Corral Canyon Loop Hike

The 1,000-acre Corral Canyon State Park protects a span of the Santa Monica Mountains between Dan Blocker Beach and Malibu Creek State Park. This is the only canyon on the Los Angeles County side of the range that remains undeveloped from the ridge top down to PCH, allowing the 2.5-mile loop through the park to plunge hikers in to a world of natural scenery and vegetation.

The Corral Canyon Loop begins at Sara Wan Trailhead, which is located just off PCH next to Malibu Seafood and Deli. There is a five-dollar fee to park at the trailhead and there is no parking allowed on the north side of PCH.

Corral Canyon Trail
The start of the trail along PCH

Pick up the trail at the northeast corner of the lot, where it descends immediately to Corral Creek. Hop over the creek and hike through a small marsh, before turning left and heading in to the canyon. Alders and willows provide some rare shade as you come to a fork, 0.17 miles from the start. This is the beginning of the loop. To the left, the trail continues up the canyon, while to the right it heads south wrapping up the terrace to the east.

To avoid spending half the hike looking over your shoulder, continue up the trail to the left. You will pass the remains of an old chimney (perhaps this canyon isn’t as pristine as it claims) and begin switching up the east side of the canyon. Tall grasses act like saloon doors that must be brushed away as you hike. Definitely wear long pants on this one.

Corral Canyon Trail
Looking up Corral Canyon

The views improve, both up canyon and down, as the trail climbs to its highest elevation of 525 feet at the north end of the loop. The trail then makes a U turn heading-south to what is labeled on the map as an overlook. There is a nice view up and down the coast from this shelf on the ridge, 1.5-miles from the bottom of the loop. The turnoff also connects to a footpath that makes a straight shot up the ridge toward Puerco Motorway and Mesa Peak. Step out and enjoy the view here, then return to the trail.

Corral Canyon Trail
The view from the overlook

Below the overlook comes the most scenic stretch of the hike as the hillside of purple sage gives way to the curving coast of Malibu. A quarter mile below the overlook, you will pass the bottom of that path headed straight up the ridge toward Puerco Motorway and Mesa Peak. The trail descends to the east, then swings back toward the canyon.

Corral Canyon Trail
Returning to the trailhead

Back at the junction, two-thirds of a mile below the lookout, make a left to return to the parking lot on the trail where it all began. Corral Canyon Loop is a short gradual hike with nice ocean and canyon views. No bikes are allowed, but dogs are welcome.

To get to the trailhead: Drive west on PCH and pull in to the parking lot on the north side of the highway next to Malibu Seafood Restaurant, 1.8 miles west of Malibu Canyon Road and half a mile before Corral Canyon Road.

Trailhead address: 25653 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Trailhead coordinates: 34.034336, -118.734362 (34° 02′ 03.60″N 118° 44′ 03.70″W)

Use the map below to create your own directions:

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Photos

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These photos were taken in May of 2010. Click to enlarge.
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Solstice Canyon hikeSolstice Canyon
This easy and level 2.6-mile out and back hike visits the ruins of a burned down ranch and a small waterfall.
Mesa Peak MalibuMesa Peak from Tapia Trailhead
This 6.5-mile round trip hike ascends 1,400 feet up the Backbone Trail from Malibu Creek State Park to a subtle summit with substantial ocean views.
Escondido Falls hikeEscondido Falls
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Explore other destinations in the range.
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5 Comments on Corral Canyon Loop in the Santa Monica Mountains

  1. LuvsHiking says:

    I love this hike, and the food at Malibu Seafood is a plus. I also enjoy Solstice Canyon (just the next canyon over, nice waterfall hike. Enough hikes close together here to make a full day.

    Hikespeak have you ever hiked the Rancho Palos Verdes area? Beautiful this spring 2011. You would think so close to the city it might not be so great but tucked away are quite a large network of challenging trails through natural reserves. It can be tricky to find, my pages might help http://caopenspace.org/pv1.html maybe your readers who like coastal bluff hiking might like this one too if you are interested in giving it a try.

    Love your site! Thank you!

  2. spunaround72 says:

    Simple hike. Good for a moderate or slightly warm day since there is not much shade. Nice breezes and beautiful views of the ocean.

  3. […] According to hikespeak.com: Corral Canyon Loop in the Santa Monica Mountains, the 1,000-acre Corral Canyon State Park protects a span of the Santa Monica Mountains […]

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