The Ocean and Canyon View Trail is one of the best hikes in Malibu that offers amazing ocean views and a serene hiking experience through the Zuma Canyon wilderness.
The Ocean – Canyon View Trail is a popular spot for hiking, walking, trail running, and horseback riding. This is a great place to come and enjoy a bit of peace and solitude while also taking on a leg-burning workout with two steep uphill climbs over a 4-mile-long route.
In this blog post, we cover details on where the Ocean and Canyon View Trail is located, where to park, trail difficulty, and what to expect if you plan to hike it!
Trail Location & Parking
To get to the trailhead you can take PCH/Highway 1 to Malibu and turn on Bonsall Drive. It’s easy to miss this turn so be sure to keep an eye out for it!
There is a designated visitor lot at the end of the narrow road where you can park your car. This parking lot is quite large so there should be plenty of available space.
On Google Maps, you can find the starting point marked as ‘Zuma Canyon Trailhead’. If you’re using the AllTrails hiking app, you can look up the ‘Ocean and Canyon View Trail’ and set directions through the app. Both will lead you to the same location.
The trailhead starts at the end of the visitor parking lot. You will see a few large signs and trail rules.
Soon after you start the hike, the trail will fork off in several directions so I used AllTrails and Maps.Me hiking apps to keep track of the route. This trail is 4.2 miles long and gains around 1000 feet in elevation.
Ocean and Canyon View Trail Map from AllTrails:
About The Ocean And Canyon View Trail
The Ocean and Canyon View Trail is a moderate hike that takes a few hours to complete. The route that I chose to follow combines several trails into one hike:
- Zuma Loop Trail
- Canyon View Trail
- Ocean View Trail
This option follows two loops with steep up-and-down climbs. The first climb gains around 450 feet in elevation and the second climb gains 850 feet along exposed terrain so it can be quite challenging, especially on hotter days.
I recommend starting clockwise and hiking the Zuma Loop first before continuing on to the Canyon-Ocean View loop. This way you get to enjoy ocean views the entire time on the way down. If you’re looking for a shorter option, you can do just the Zuma Loop Trail which is around 2 miles long.
The Ocean and Canyon View hike offers very little to no shade so it’s best done early in the morning before it gets too hot. While there are some trees in the dry river bed at the bottom, once you start the climb up it’s completely exposed to the sun with no place to take a break.
I’ve had to turn around and exit this trail before because my dog was having a bit of a rough time with the heat.
My Hiking Experience
After parking, I found the trailhead at the end of the parking lot to the left. You will see a few signs where the hike officially starts.
Soon after entering the trail, I reached the first junction. If you’re following the AllTrails route, it goes clockwise which is the option that I recommend. Make a left to follow the Zuma Loop Trail and you will start a gradual climb up a hill.
The trail here is very narrow and you might need to move over into the grassy areas to let other hikers and horseback riders pass. During the week you might be the only person hiking out here but this trail can get busy on the weekends.
The trail will follow along a ridge with some deep ruts from rain runoff. Be sure to watch where you step so you don’t accidentally roll or hurt your ankle.
After trekking to the first summit, you will descend into a partially shaded forest with many fallen trees. You will need to walk through a dry, overgrown river bed for a bit before making the second climb.
At 1.5 miles into the trail turn left onto the Canyon View Trail to start the second ascent. This section is much longer, steeper, and a pretty great workout for the legs and cardio.
Despite the leg-burning switchbacks, the ocean views along this section are just phenomenal! On a clear day, you’ll be able to see the Malibu coastline with its pristine blue water in the distance.
This part of Zuma Canyon does not have any large trees along the trail, but the landscape was very green and covered in lush plants and some wildflowers.
Overall, this trail is pretty overgrown with lots of shrubs, bushes, and vegetation. On a quiet weekday, you may notice all the surrounding bird sounds and see little lizards running across the path.
Near the top, you might get some much-needed ocean breeze to cool you down. The higher you climb, the better the views will get!
At the summit, the trail will flatten out for a bit before starting the descent. At 2.9 miles you will need to make a right turn onto the Ocean View Trail to continue onto the loop.
If you miss this turn, you’ll end up on the Kanan Dume Road and you’ll need to backtrack.
During the climb down you’ll get to enjoy panoramic views of the coastline. This part of the trail is very sandy and by the end of it, I was completely covered in dust.
The trail ends at the dry river bed at the bottom. Cross the river and find the Zuma Loop Trail to continue back to the parking lot.
Other Visitor Tips
- Pack plenty of water for your hike. Due to the heat exposure, this hike is best done in the winter or on cooler, overcast days.
- Bring a towel to wipe off dust, dirt, and any horse manure from your shoes before getting into the car.
- There is a trashcan in the parking lot if you need to dispose of any trash before or after the hike.
- This region is dog-friendly but pets must stay on a leash.
- There are no bathrooms at the trailhead so use a restroom before arriving.
- When hiking in California hills and canyons with my dog, I usually bring a venom extractor kit in case there are rattlesnakes on the trail. Rattlesnake bites are very rare but it’s best to go prepared.
Shop My Favorite Hiking Gear:
- Merrell Trail Running Shoes that are perfect for day hikes
- Nike One Luxe leggings that are made from sustainable materials
- Polarized Sunglasses to help with harsh sunlight
- Headlamp and a first aid kit for emergencies
- Portable phone charger in case your phone runs out of battery
- A light day pack. I use the REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack which fits everything I need for a day hike and comes with a breathable back & mesh straps for extra comfort.
Where To Stay Nearby
If you’re planning to visit Malibu for a quick getaway, there are many incredible places to stay nearby:
- The Surfrider Malibu is a boutique hotel located just steps away from the beach and Malibu Pier. The star of this property is the guest-only roof deck bar & restaurant overlooking the ocean. Other notable amenities include complimentary surfboards and stand-up paddleboards.
- Malibu Beach Inn is a sophisticated hotel with rooms overlooking the ocean. This hotel also boasts an incredible luxury spa, a Beach Club, and direct access to its private beach.
- Calamigos Guest Ranch and Beach Club is located on a 200-acre property and exudes a cozy ranch chic atmosphere. During the stay, guests can arrange a day at their Beach Club, go horseback riding in the mountains, wine tasting, and take a helicopter tour. This hotel is also pet-friendly!
Looking for more things to do around the coast? Check out these posts next:
- How To Hike The Solstice Canyon Trail In Malibu
- Ocean Overlook Loop Trail At Charmlee Wilderness Park In Malibu
- How To Hike Escondido Falls Trail In Malibu
- 5 Great Breweries In Ventura For Amazing Local Beers
- 10 Best Hotels In Santa Barbara For A Perfect Seaside Escape
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