Corral Canyon Loop Hike

The 1,000-acre Corral Canyon 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.

Corral Canyon Loop begins at Sara Wan Trailhead, which is located just off PCH next to Malibu Seafood and Deli. A five-dollar fee is charged to park at the trailhead. Parking is not allowed on the north side of PCH near the trailhead.

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. 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 550 feet at the north end of the loop. The trail then makes a U-turn and heads south to what is labeled on the map as an overlook.

Take in 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, pass the bottom of that path headed straight up the ridge toward Puerco Motorway and Mesa Peak. The trail descends to the east and 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. A day use fee is charged to park a vehicle at the trailhead.

Woolsey Fire Update: Corral Canyon Park has reopened following the November 2018 Woolsey Fire. This park is managed by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. Check the MRCA website for additional visitor information.

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)

Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.
Trail Map

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These photos were taken in May of 2010. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
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This easy and level 2.6-mile out and back hike visits the ruins of a burned down ranch and a small waterfall.
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Mesa Peak Malibu Mesa Peak from Malibu Canyon Road (Piuma Trailhead)
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Santa Monica Mountains hike More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains
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14 Comments on Corral Canyon Loop in the Santa Monica Mountains

  1. LuvsHiking wrote:

    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 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 wrote:

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

    spunaround72's ratings for this hike: spunaround72 gives a rating of 4spunaround72 gives a rating of 4spunaround72 gives a rating of 4spunaround72 gives a rating of 4spunaround72 gives a rating of 4
  3. […] According to Corral Canyon Loop in the Santa Monica Mountains, the 1,000-acre Corral Canyon Park protects a span of the Santa Monica Mountains […]

  4. […] information: LA Mountains page here; trip description here; Everytrail report here; Yelp page […]

  5. Trish wrote:

    I was wondering if you knew of any high places in the Malibu area that would be great for seeing 4th of July fireworks and avoiding too many people. Thanks!

  6. kaydkafka wrote:

    This is a quick 1 hour hike, with enough altitude to get your legs fired up but not enough to provide a challenge, more of a leisurely hike. Stay to the left and go clockwise through the loop, the climb is gradual and the views at the end of the ocean are beautiful. Lots of lizards, funnel web spiders, and birds. Small fee-to-park lot at the the entrance, fills quickly so additional parking is available on the PCH for free, with a short walk to the park entrance.

    Nice hike, great views, but not too challenging. For those wanting a challenge, this hike is probably not the best fit!

  7. Gabi wrote:

    I was trying to understand from your post – is it possible to make this a longer hike? We are looking for a hike with ocean vistas but more challenging than this one – maybe about 4 miles.

    • hikespeak wrote:

      You could try taking the path up the ridge from the lookout point (1.5 miles into the hike) to explore a bit farther.

  8. ktmonsoon wrote:

    Hiked this today on a hot 80 degrees. It looks a lot drier than these pictures show, due to the drought…fire tinder everywhere. It almost looked like the desert once you get away from PCH and gain elevation. Nevertheless, due to the elevation, it was strenuous at times and you can keep walking for miles beyond the 2.5 mile loop to get an extended workout…as long as you continue following the trails. Lots to explore and the ocean views are wonderful. Free parking along PCH, however, I recommend parking past the trailhead on PCH…as people drive way too fast and it is very difficult to pull out onto PCH before or near the trailhead, due to a slight blind curve in the highway right there. I am not faint of heart…..but I felt like I was taking my life into my own hands just pulling out….way too stressful….do yourself a favor and park just past the seafood place. And do yourself another favor, and spend the $20 on one of their fresh seafood meals…simply delicious and so healthy :). I also took a dunk in the ocean right across the street afterwards….so refreshing. It is a clean beach, with a lifeguard to keep you safe while you swim. What a perfect day.

    ktmonsoon's ratings for this hike: ktmonsoon gives a rating of 5ktmonsoon gives a rating of 5ktmonsoon gives a rating of 5ktmonsoon gives a rating of 5ktmonsoon gives a rating of 5
  9. Angela Mayes wrote:

    Hello. I’ve enjoyed the Corral Canyon hike three times now. The 4th time was a disaster. The shrubbery were so overgrown that it made it difficult to see you next step, trail, and hand in front of you. Because of this I fell and almost took a tumble down the side of the mountain. Is there anyone I can write to or call regarding maintaining the trail? Trimming all the foliage? Thanks.

  10. Parking at the Sara Wan Trailhead is now (as of Dec. 26, 2020) $12. Parking is allowed on the inland side of PCH beyond Malibu Seafood. Just avoid parking by the fire hydrant a little way past the restaurant.

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