Solstice Canyon hike Malibu Trail Solstice Canyon Park

Solstice Canyon offers an easy no-fuss walk alongside a flowing creek in a wide canyon. The big attraction on the 2.6-mile round-trip hike is a small waterfall next to interesting ruins. Solstice Canyon is a great venue for a picnic and a stroll. The wide trail is so level it can be walked in flip-flops, making this one of the most family-friendly hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Canyon Trail is the main drag in Solstice Canyon, and easy to follow. Starting from the Solstice Canyon Education Shelter, take the wide trail heading west from the parking lot. To the left flows Solstice Canyon Creek, and scattered picnic tables can be found along the early portion of the trail.

Solstice Canyon
Solstice Canyon Trail

After crossing the creek, the trail turns right and proceeds upstream, remaining level as sycamores, oaks, and alders provide intermittent shade. In the springtime, flowers bloom amongst the chaparral.

The trail ends at the ruins of Roberts Ranch House, called the Tropical Terrace. Designed by architect Paul Williams and built in 1952, the brick structures found harmony with nature by incorporating the creek, waterfall, and landscape into their design. The house must have been a relaxing retreat, until it was burned down by wildfires in 1982. The remaining foundations are now protected by the National Park Service. There are several walls and fireplaces still standing as well as the outline of a pool. Palms surround the ruins, providing the tropical ambiance.

A panel at the ruins tells the story:

The history of this favorite homestead site included many fires so Fred (Roberts) insisted that fire protection be incorporated into the design. The visually striking pools supplied water for an elaborate pump system to protect the home from fires. However, the pumps and pipes were not maintained after Fred’s death and the home was lost in the 1982 Dayton Canyon Fire. The surviving features provide a unique opportunity to walk through a blueprint of a Paul R. Williams design.

Today wildfires remain a concern, and parts of Solstice Canyon have burned as recently as 2007, resulting in a temporary closure of the park.

Solstice Canyon
Ruins in Solstice Canyon

Just beyond the ruins, a short waterfall spills down the creek into a sequence of rock pools. This is a great place to spend some time exploring. There are several smaller ruins along the bank of the creek to discover. Return the way you came. There is 350 feet of elevation gain along this hike. Dogs are welcome. No fee or permit is required, so get out and enjoy!

Solstice Canyon
A waterfall near the ruins

There are a handful of other trails in Solstice Canyon. Those looking for more of a challenge should try the Deer Valley Loop off Sostomo Trail. The 3.9 miles of undulating trail offer occasional ocean views and plenty of good exercise.

To get to the trailhead: Take PCH to Malibu and turn inland on Corral Canyon Road (West of Malibu Canyon Road and Pepperdine University at the intersection with the 76 gas station). The park entrance is on the left, just around the first bend in the road. Expect a full parking lot on weekends.

Trailhead address: Corral Canyon Road & Solstice Canyon Road, Malibu, CA 90265
Trailhead coordinates: 34.037166, -118.746636

Use the map below to create your own directions:

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Photos

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These photos were taken in August of 2009 and May of 2012. Click to enlarge.
Trail Map

Solstice Canyon Map

Nearby Trails
corral canyon trailCorral Canyon
This 2.5-mile loop offers ocean and canyon views from a unspoiled section of the Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu.
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Point Dume Natural PreservePoint Dume Natural Preserve
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This easy 3-mile hike enters Malibu Creek State Park on South Grassland Trail, then forms a loop around Crags Road to visit Rock Pool, a popular park retreat.
red rock canyonRed Rock Canyon
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5 Comments on Solstice Canyon in the Santa Monica Mountains

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  3. Sassyred says:

    Did this particular hike on my Birthday weekend. Was very much looking forward to it. It was a good hike, but somewhat disappointing for me. I guess I had built up the ruins in my mind so that I was expecting so much more. However, it is beautiful and had some great ocean views. Will try this one again, also.

  4. Michael says:

    Has anyone just kept going? Can you just go all the way to Mulholland Highway?

  5. John Antczak says:

    The Roberts Ranch House ruins have been significantly vandalized with graffiti. It looks like the group that did it also damaged some of the stone and brick work that had otherwise survived the fire and remained intact for 30 some years since.

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