This hike is located north of Malibu in Point Mugu State Park.
This is a 10 mile loop hike from PCH through the Sycamore Canyon Campgrounds and loops through varied environs mixing a creek-side wooded trail with open grasslands and wonderful views of the Boney Mountains and some ocean views.
There is also a fantastic beach across PCH (see slideshow). Highly recommended you visit there before or after the hike for a snack, swimming or just relaxing.
Elevation gain is about 900 ft. It's an easy-to-moderate hike. Except for possibly the length of the hike, this is a good family hike because it's pretty easy.
This is a loop hike which starts out on a fireroad called Big Sycamore Canyon Trail and then travels off into Serrano Canyon along a semi-shady and shady woodland that travels alongside and over the creek. Then the trail climbs north up and away from the creek into the beautiful grassland valley with the gorgeous Boney Mountains (above) perched in the distance. Once you reach the top of the grasslands valley you head further north down the other side of the hill back down to the fireroad for the walk back to the trailhead.
The best time to take this hike is in the spring or fall when its cooler, the creek should be flowing and the sycamore trees have leaves. The summer can get very hot in here and the creek won't be flowing. The creek won't be flowing in the fall either unless there has been some rain.
We went in February when the trees were bare, so we didn't get to see the full beauty of the sycamores.
Please run the slidewhow below to see hike taken in February:
To start the hike find the trailhead in the campground, where the fireroad starts at a large yellow gate. Follow the fireroad until the fork at about 1.4 miles into the hike from PCH (note: all mileage in this description starts from PCH, not the trailhead). Turn right at the trail sign onto Serrano Canyon Trail.
Travel along this trail that goes alongside the creek and crosses over the creek at least 10 times. After rains you will likely get wet at a few creek crossings as boulder and tree limb crossings are not well maintained by hikers or rangers. Just be prepared to get a little wet.
The wooded creek-side trail is about 1.6 miles in length and is really the only shady part of the hike, the rest is mostly exposed to the sun.
You get to a point near the end of the creek trail where it appears to dead end into the creek (see slideshow). However, you cross the creek her and follow the small trail to the right on the other side of the creek. This trail eventually hooks up into the main trail which takes you up to the north, away from the creek and into the grassland valley. This trail is where the workout part of this hike begins.
The trail goes mostly all uphill from here to the highest point of the hike about 2 miles up from the creek. The trails before and after this workout portion are mostly quite easy. But this isnt a tough climb, so don't get me wrong. What would a hike be without a workout anyway?
As you climb up the trail you get into the grassland valley with the gorgeous Boney Mountain perched in the distance. It's a beautiful area to walk in and take in all the sights. You keep heading north keeping the Boney Mountain to your right as you continue the climb. Occasionally, if you look to your left (west) and to the rear (south) you can spot the ocean over the tops of the hills (opposite Boney Mountain, which is to the east).
Eventually as you get to the top of the hill of the valley, you will start to see Sycamore Canyon off to the north, and the trail will veer right. Take the trail until you see the point where the trail hard angles (90 degrees) left. This is the highest point of the hike, about 4.9 miles in and about 975 ft elevation Look carefully at the slideshow photo where two hikers are on a blanket at this exact point. This is the end of the workout portion. Take a rest here and enjoy the views, the mountains, the hills, the grasslands and valleys below and the ocean off in the distance. Quite beautiful.
The rest of the hike is all downhill from here. Take the angled trail down the hill to the north, away from the grasslands. On your way down you will cross the Backbone Trail and eventually get back to the fireroad, Big Sycamore Canyon Trail. On you way down you will see the fireroad as it travels through the large valley below. Take a left at the fireroad, about 6.2 miles into the hike. Take the fireroad back to the campground and PCH. At about 8.8 miles you will see the Serrano Trail fork which you took on the way up, this completes the actual loop portion of the hike. You continue back to PCH for a total of about 10 miles.
This hike is basically mostly exposed to the sun. As noted above, the only shady part is the roughly 1.6 miles along the creek. So be prepared.
The final 3-4 miles of the hike on the fireroad back to PCH is pretty boring. You may find this easy flat final portion a blessing if this is a long hike for you.
However, if you are anti easy and boring fireroads, I suggest you consider making this an out-and-back hike instead of a loop. Follow the hike as outlined above, but at the topmost point turn around and go back to the creek and the way you came up instead of going north down to the fireroad. It's a lot more interesting this way. The total mileage is about the same.
This is just one of the many hikes and trails in this park and general area. Click here for trail map
Location and Directions:
North of Malibu off of PCH. Drive up PCH north past Yerba Buena Rd and Deer Creek Rd, after which there aren't roads as much as there are signs for state park venues. You want to turn on the road that's marked for Sycamore Canyon Campgrounds. Park on PCH or in the campground for a fee. Go straight into the campground and keep going straight until you see the trailhead, which is where the fireroad enters the campground, marked by a large yellow gate (see slideshow). There are restrooms in the campground.
Click here for trail map
See general location map below.
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