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Malibu, California, United States

Solstice Canyon

A moderate hike to a ruined mansion in the Santa Monica Mountains, complete with waterfall!

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 (5 votes, 3 reviews)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 5.9 miles / 9.5 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
 
Overview: This is an incredibly picturesque, mostly shaded canyon hike in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Solstice Canyon Trail is a popular, well-maintained route with some spur-trail opportunities for more adventurous travelers.

Some of the highlights include the oldest still-standing stone building in Malibu, a small waterfall and creek, and several ruins - including the ruins of a moderate mansion.


Tips: While the Solstice Canyon Trail is mostly shaded year-round, the Rising Sun and Sostomo Trails are above the canyon floor and often in the full-sun. If it's hot and sunny out, you may not want to attempt those routes.

Parking at the trailhead is free, but limited. Try to get there early if possible.

Dogs are allowed, but must remain on-leash.

Points of Interest

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Trailhead

The trailhead is at an often-crowded parking area on Corral Canyon Road. There are a few restrooms and a National Park Service Ampitheatre.

On this loop, get the elevation gain out of the way right in the beginning - look for a trailhead on the north side of the lot for a set of stairs leading to the Rising Sun Trail.

This trail does a healthy bit of elevation gain and doesn't have a lot of shade, but it should be manageable for most hikers in moderate weather.
Junction
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El Nido Junction

At the 3-way junction with the El Nido Trail, stay to the right to continue on the Rising Sun Trail.

The El Nido Trail drops back down into Solstice Canyon.

As the trail rises, you'll start to get a better view of the canyon itself, as well as the Pacific Ocean to your south.

Building
map

Tropical Terrace Ruins

After a few steep switchbacks, the Rising Sun Trail descends back into Solstice Canyon near a creek, putting you near the ruins of the Tropical Terrace Mansion, which burned down in 1982.

Take your time to explore this area - there's plenty to see.
Junction
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Sostomo Trail Junction

When you are done exploring the ruins of Tropical Terrace, start hiking south on the paved path leading down Solstice Canyon.

Just past the house, keep an eye out for the Sostomo Trail on your right. This trail ascends above the canyon on the west side, passing a few more ruined buildings along the way.
Junction
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Deer Valley Loop Trail

Here, the trail ends at the Deer Valley Loop Trail, a 1.3 mile roundtrip with some great views of the Pacific Ocean.

Take a right on the trail if you'd like to complete the full-loop -- the route is easier to follow counterclockwise. If you'd like to, you can also just head left to a picturesque meadow, have a snack, and call it a hike.
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Meadow

An unnamed meadow on the Deer Valley Loop Trail. The trail here is a bit indistinct, and may be difficult to spot. However, it also makes for a nice place to settle down for a quiet snack or lunch. This part of the trail system is very rarely traveled.

Either continue on the loop, or turn back the way you came, heading south on the paved Solstice Canyon Trail toward the trailhead.
Landmark
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Keller Family Oak

The Solstice Canyon Trail is a partly paved, partly dirt path down the center of Solstice Canyon. Although it dips down to the water's level a few times, it is a relatively flat and easy trail - suitable for more rugged strollers.

On the way toward the trailhead, you'll pass this old, gnarled oak tree. A plaque marks this as the ‘Keller Family Oak,’ named for ‘Don Mateo’ Keller, an Irish immigrant who owned 13,300 acres of Malibu and Topanga after the Mexican-American War. His family’s stone residence is across the river, and is believed to be the oldest existing stone building in Malibu.

Continue south on the Solstice Canyon Trail until you arrive back at the trailhead.
Water
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Waterfall

A small but constantly-flowing waterfall lies just to the east of the mansion ruins.
Building
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Statuary

A small statuary lies on the east side of the creek, just across from the Tropical Terrace.
Building
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Chimney

Pass the ruins of a chimney along the trail.
Pictures in this guide taken by: modernhiker
Reviews
sfla
Great easy hike. If you don't head off onto Rising Sun or Sostomo the hike is great for all ages, pets are welcome on a leash.

We parked out on Corral Canyon Road as the two parking lots were full, and walked up solstice Canyon Road skipping the actual trail head. The trail is concrete for most of the way. The trail was not crowded but was pretty active, especially at the waterfall. There is plenty of easy rock climbing and small side trails all around the waterfall to get up to different heights with some nice secluded parts.

Great place to go with beginners or children.

Visited on Feb 10, 2013

by sfla on Feb 11, 2013
kmakous
This was a very nice hike. The ruins were ok, I'm from the East Coast so I wouldn't consider these 1950's homes to be very old. But it was still cool to walk around in a house in the middle of the forest. I did the full loop to get some exercise and if that's the kind of thing you're looking for - then this hike has some great inclines that can really get you some exercise. Also, very nice views! Worth the trip, but like other people mentioned parking is limited so go on a weekday or get there early on the weekends.
Visited on Jul 19, 2012

by kmakous on Jul 29, 2012
dedantz27
Parking is limited so arrive early. We took the rising sun trail which is total incline... But awesome sense of accomplishment, the view is spectacular and you feel like your on top of the world... You look down at the solstice canyon trail and can see the ruins below you... There wasn't too much shade on this trail, but way worth it... I suggest you pack plenty of water and a snack to keep you energized and hydrated... The ruins were amazing and the hidden Virgin Mary statue and the waterfalls.... This is a grat trip... if your going to take small children under 7 I would suggest sticking to the trails on the bottom of the canyon.. The rising sun trail is a very narrow dirt road along the sides of the mountain... Enjoy and have fun!
Visited on Mar 06, 2011

by dedantz27 on Mar 07, 2011

Solstice Canyon Trail Map


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