Saturday, September 6, 2014

Hike Sandstone Peak (Santa Monica Mountains)

A hike to Sandstone Peak in the Santa Monica Mountains is a must do for hiking enthusiasts in Los Angeles. At 3,111 feet, it is the tallest mountain in the Santa Monica Mountains and offers sweeping panoramic vistas of the greater Los Angeles area and the Pacific Coast Line. Ashley and I hiked to the summit of Sandstone Peak in June of this year and would highly recommend this hike to others. The hiking trails in this area of the Santa Monica Mountains are easy to follow and were well maintained. We also made the side journey to the Tri Peaks, which is a fun add on to this hike. This is a must do hike for hikers in Los Angeles. For more pictures, make sure to check out our Facebook Page.

Directions to Trailhead: To hike to Sandstone Peak, there are two general options to get to the trailhead. From the Coast: Take the Pacific Coast Highway to the far west end of Malibu. Make a right onto Yerba Buena Road which is right near Neptune’s Net (which is a good place to eat) and drive up Yerba Buena for 5.5 miles to the Circle X Ranch Ranger Station. The trailhead is located 1 mile east of Circle X Ranch, so continue past the ranger station up Yerba Buena Road and turn left into the Sandstone Peak trailhead parking lot. From the 101: Exit onto Westlake Blvd from the 101 Freeway, and follow it south for several miles as it merges with Mulholland highway. Turn right onto Little Sycamore Canyon and it will become Yerba Buena Road as you cross the county line. Proceed on Yerba Buena Road for about 4 miles to trailhead (about a mile before you hit the Circle X Ranch Ranger Station). There is no cost for parking and there is a restroom at the trailhead and the Circle X Ranch Ranger Station.

Description of Hike: The Sandstone Peak Hike starts off pretty strenuous with a steep 1.5-mile hike to the summit of Sandstone Peak. This is the most challenging section of the hike, but the summit of Sandstone Peak offers commanding views of the pacific ocean and inland valleys. On clear days, you can also see Anacapa Island, Santa Cruz Island and to the east, Mount Baldy. Many of the rocky outcrops that rise out of the chaparral covered slopes were created some 13-16 million years ago through explosive volcanic activity. The last push to the summit is a little scramble and is a little steep.

Once you come back down from the summit, you continue on a long loop exploring the vast terrain of the Santa Monica Mountains taking the Backbone Trail to the Mishe Mokwa Trail. At the intersection of these two trails, you can take a short trip to the top of Tri Peaks, which is an exposed peak at just about 3,000 feet that offers amazing views. The Tri Peaks Trail is significantly more rugged and overgrown than the Mishe Mokwa or Backbone Trails. You should immediately notice the difference once you proceed to the Tri Peaks which adds 1 mile roundtrip to the hike.

After returning from the Tri Peaks Trail Continue on the Mishe Mokwa Trail and you will see notable sites such as split rock and balancing rock on your completion of the loop. The remainder of the hike is a gradual downhill hike for the remainder of the journey with a couple of uphill sections. For a printable map of the Sandstone Peak hike and general area in the Santa Monica Mountains, click Here.

Further Thoughts: Ashley and I really had a great time on our Sandstone Peak hike. This is a very popular hiking spot and the parking lot was virtually full when we arrived. We parked on an informal parking area just outside of the official trailhead parking location. This hike is very popular because it is packed with a wide variety of experiences and in reality has a little bit of everything, from rock formations, to riparian canyons, to epic coastal views.

Dispite the popularity of this hike, be on the lookout for wildlife because there is a wide variety of animals that inhabit this area. We were lucky enough to see a coyote while out on our hike in this area. The views from the summit are breathtaking and far-reaching on a clear day. Mount Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains to the east, Los Padres National Forest to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the south, and the Channel Islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara) to the west. Make sure to bring plenty of water if you are doing this hike during the summer because sections of the hike are exposed.

Rating: Without Tri Peak: Elevation Gain: 1,400 ft. (Moderate), Distance: 6.1 Miles Roundtrip (Moderate), With Tri Peak: Elevation Gain: 1,700 ft. (Moderate), Distance: 7.1 Miles Roundtrip (Moderate).

Time to Complete Hike: 3 - 4.5 hours.

View Sandstone Peak in a larger map

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Ashley and I encourage and welcome our readers to submit comments about their experiences on the trails we have posted on our blog or about their own hiking experiences in general.