Zuma Canyon Trail
in the Santa Monica Mountains
This 2.8-mile hike leaves a coastal Malibu neighborhood to explore rustic Zuma Canyon. The sandy single track shoots north through a brushy open space, crossing and following a stony creek bed. Sporadic oaks and sycamores become more concentrated as the mouth of the canyon closes. Enjoy the increasing shade and lush canyon views. The easy trail climbs only 115 feet and has no steep sections.
Woolsey Fire Update: Zuma Canyon is closed following the November 2018 Woolsey Fire. Check the NPS Zuma Canyon webpage for more information.
After 1.4 miles, the canyon narrows and the trail dissolves. A cluster of large boulders fill the creek bed, signifying the end of the Zuma Canyon out-and-back. Adventurous hikers may continue up the untamed canyon for two more miles through the Zuma Canyon Narrows to a crossing with an Edison Service Road. This slow-going route requires serious bolder-hopping and bushwhacking.
Other short trails in Zuma Canyon make nice additions. All trail junctions are well marked. Extension options include:
- Scenic Trail, which leaves Zuma Canyon Trail for an additional 0.2-mile loop
- Zuma Loop Trail, which travels west exploring another 1.5-miles of the valley floor beneath Zuma Ridge
- Ocean View Trail and Canyon View Trail Loop, which forms a 3.1-mile circuit up the east side of the canyon
The Zuma Canyon Trail is one of the easiest strolls in Malibu, making it popular with joggers, dog walkers, and horseback riders. For more of a challenge, hikers can climb out of the canyon on either the Ocean View Trail or the Zuma Ridge Trail. No fee or permit is required, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: Take PCH to Malibu and make a right on Bonsall Drive, one mile west of Kanan Dune Road (If you pass Zuma Beach, you have gone too far). Drive north on Bonsall Drive for one more mile to the dirt parking lot at the end of the road. The trail leaves from the northwest corner of the lot.
Trailhead address: 5875 Bonsall Drive, Malibu, CA 90265
Trailhead coordinates: 34.0317, -118.8122 (34° 01′ 54.1″N 118° 48′ 43.9″W)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding Los Angeles trails and campgrounds.
|Zuma Ridge Trail |
This wide dirt service road which weaves northwest up the back of the ridge west of Zuma Canyon offering access to several trails in the area.
|Zuma Canyon Narrows - Zuma Ridge Loop |
This off-trail trek crosses the narrow canyon between Zuma Canyon Trail and Edison Road. Hikers may return along the Zuma Ridge Trail to form a challenging 8-mile loop.
|Ocean View Trail - Canyon View Trail Loop |
This 3.1-mile loop demands more effort than Zuma Canyon Trail and provides great ocean and canyon views.
|Point Dume Natural Preserve |
This one-mile hike explores overlooks on a scenic headland jutting into the Pacific at the northwest end of Santa Monica Bay in Malibu.
|Charmlee Wilderness Park |
This 3.25-mile loop is one of several possible hikes in this bluff-top park with ocean views over Malibu.
|More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains |
Explore other destinations in the range.
|Solstice Canyon |
This easy and level 2.6-mile out and back hike visits the ruins of a burned down ranch and a small waterfall.
|Grassland Trail to Crags Road and Rock Pool |
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.
I just hiked Zuma Canyon with my dog today and it was absolutely amazing! While the trails cater to horses as well as hikers, it is a stunning hike (especially if you take the full loop) that is slightly challenging but very doable and worth it. I saw one other hiker the whole 2 hours or so I was there, which made it all the better. Great if you want to get away and enjoy a little bit of quiet in the mountains in Malibu!
[…] in the valley underneath the Zuma ridge. If you’re looking for adventure, there are plenty of other trails nearby to explore this ocean […]
Will you please reconsider the decision to no longer put maps at the trail head? I met two young ladies, in the evening, that knew nothing about the trails. They had no phone service so could not get an app. They set out “blind”. Thank you for your reconsideration.