Do you want to combine a hike with a stair workout? If the answer is yes, head for the Calabasas Stairs, a long, straight flight of 375 steps that climb a slope in the Santa Monica Mountains below a Calabasas neighborhood. It is a 0.6-mile hike from Calabasas Road (just off Highway 101) to the base of the steps. Venturing to the top of the steps and back to the road is 1.4 miles round trip with 330 feet of elevation change (every repetition on the stairs adds 0.2 miles to the outing).
To reach the Calabasas Stairs, you’ll hike half a mile up Anza Loop Trail. If the beginning of this trail does not make you want to interrupt the hike with a giant concrete staircase… exploring the full loop is another option. Also, if you’d like to tackle a short hike that’s as steep as a staircase, but without the steps, you can check out nearby Heartbreak Hill Trail.
Hiking to the Calabasas Stairs
Set out from Juan Bautista de Anza East Trailhead, which is located off Calabasas Road, just south of the 101 Freeway. Don’t take the dirt trail going west from the end of the road (this is another branch of Anza Loop Trail). Instead, find mile marker 0.06 and take a paved trail dropping off the south side of the road. A metal chain crosses this paved trail as it plunges to a gully. A sign to the right reads, “Anza Loop Trail (3.7 mi round trip).”
Follow this short stretch of introductory pavement as it dips across the gully and curves to the left. Rise to the end of the pavement, just 0.05 miles from the start. Take the dirt single-track parting to the right, next to a sign for Anza Loop Trail with a not-so-helpful directional arrow. Venture up the single-track trail, heading south toward the Calabasas Stairs.
The trail goes gradually uphill across a grassland that slopes from right to left. Pass a solitary oak and make your way up to a second confusingly-marked junction, 0.2 miles from the start. At this split in the trail, one branch drops to the left toward trees gathered in the drainage below. This is New Millennium Loop Trail. Bear right instead and proceed up Anza Loop Trail.
The trail weaves through creases in the grassy ridges, offering perspectives back toward the 101 Freeway and the hills beyond. Ahead of you, the Calabasas Stairs come into view, cutting down the center of a manicured bowl in the landscape that is topped by a row of houses in the neighborhood above.
After 0.4 miles of hiking, come around a bend to find head-on views of the staircase. At this point, you may be tempted to take one of the footpaths angling across the ravine toward the Calabasas Stairs. However, it is more sensible to stick with the trail for another tenth of a mile, reaching a shorter approach to the base of the staircase.
Wrap around a crease in the terrain that takes you away from the stairs. Next, ascend a slope that is higher than the base of the staircase itself. (It’s good to get the extra exercise, right?)
After half a mile of hiking, come to an unmarked split. Anza Loop Trail continues up the slope to the right. Turn left and descend a steep rutted track toward a lone oak beneath the staircase.
Ease your way down past the tree and cross a drainage channel to a paved walkway. Turn right and walk up to a gate at the bottom of the Calabasas Stairs. This gate should be open, while a gate near the top of the steps will be locked closed.
The Calabasas Stairs take a straight shot southeast, rising a total of 375 steps. Every 25th step has been numbered with spray paint, so monitoring your climb is easy. The staircase is broken up by a handful of landings, where you can take a deep breath before heading even higher.
The view from the top of Calabasas Stairs is actually pretty broad, looking back over the landscape you crossed toward the 101 Freeway. The Simi Hills, the Santa Susana Mountains, and a bit of the San Fernando Valley are visible to the northeast.
The stairs are a tenth of a mile long and climb 185 feet of elevation (the riser for each step is about 6 inches tall). One trip up the staircase results in a 1.4-mile round trip hike with 330 feet of elevation change. If you go up and down the steps 4 time, for example, that would be a 2-mile round trip outing.
When you’re ready to leave the Calabasas Stairs, return the way you came. The hike to the stairs is short, but not completely straightforward.
The basic directions to the Calabasas Stairs are:
- Hike south for Calabasas Road (0 miles)
- At the end of the paved trail, turn right up a single track (0.05 miles)
- Bear right at the next marked split (0.2 miles)
- Descend to the left from an unmarked split (0.5 miles)
- Cross a drainage channel and bear right to reach the base of the Calabasas Stairs (0.6 miles)
Anza Loop Trail allows hikers to bring dogs, but bikes are not allowed. No permit is required for this hike in Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Zone Parkland. Parking along Calabasas Road is free, so get out and enjoy!
- For other staircase hikes around Los Angeles, check out Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook and Murphy Ranch from Sullivan Ridge.
To get to the trailhead: From Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, go west on the 101 Freeway North to exit 30 for Calabasas Parkway. At the end of the offramp, bear left onto Ventura Boulevard. Make an immediate left onto Parkway Calabasas. Cross over the freeway and turn right on Calabasas Road. Drive 1.5 miles down this road to the trailhead on the left, just before the end of the road. Halfway down Calabasas Road, you’ll need to bear left past Mureau Road to stay committed to Calabasas Road.
Coming from the Conejo Valley, go east on the 101 Freeway South to exit 30 for Calabasas Parkway. Bear left at the end of the offramp onto Calabasas Road. Drive 1.2 miles west on Calabasas Road to the trailhead.
Trailhead address: Calabasas Road, Calabasas, CA 91302
Trailhead coordinates: 34.1499, -118.6769 (34° 08′ 59.6″N 118° 40′ 36.8″W)
|Anza Loop Trail |
This 3.8 to 4.5-mile hike follows a historic route through rolling hills in Calabasas south of the 101 Freeway.
|Heartbreak Hill Trail |
This 2.1-mile round trip hike offers a condensed workout, shooting up a ridge to a panoramic crest above Agoura Hills in the Santa Monica Mountains.
|Calabasas Peak via Calabasas - Cold Creek Trail |
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|Calabasas Peak from Old Topanga Canyon Road |
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|Grassland Trail to Crags Road and Rock Pool |
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|M*A*S*H Set |
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|Talepop Loop |
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|Phantom Trail |
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|Cistern, Lookout, and Cage Creek Trails |
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|Lake Vista Trail |
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|Paramount Ranch |
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|More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains |
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|Malibu Creek State Park |
The year-round campground has 63 sites with picnic tables, fire rings, flush toilets, coin showers, and a dump station.