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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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