Solstice Canyon offers an easy no-fuss walk alongside a flowing creek in a wide canyon. The big attraction on this 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.
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. Several walls and fireplaces still stand 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.
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. Several smaller ruins along the bank of the creek can be discover. Return the way you came. This hike has 300 feet of elevation change. Dogs are welcome. No fee or permit is required, so get out and enjoy!
A handful of other trails explore 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: 34.03765, -118.7477 (34° 02′ 15.5″N 118° 44′ 51.7″W)
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