If you’re ever feeling inspired to ditch the beach and that drink in your hand, Santa Monica and the surrounding area have a wealth of nature parks and trails with gorgeous ocean views, picturesque waterfalls, and even fascinating history. For a change of pace, pack a picnic, lace up your hiking boots, and try out one of these scenic coastal hikes.
Near the coastal neighborhood, Pacific Palisades, Paseo Miramar is a moderately difficult, 5-mile out-and-back hike that offers sprawling views of downtown LA, Catalina Island, and the Pacific Ocean. It is known as one of the most scenic coastal trails in the region.
Los Leones Trail
If you’re looking for a full day trip, head to Topanga State Park for a moderately difficult, 7-mile hike on the Los Leones Trail. Be sure to bring plenty of water if you’re planning a visit during the warm summer months—the trail becomes more and more exposed to the SoCal sun as it rises to its breathtaking peak.
Point Dume Cove Trail
At just 1.5-miles, Point Dume Cove Trail is deceptively difficult, with soft sand and rugged terrain forcing hikers to slow down. Fortunately, moving at a more relaxed pace allows visitors to take in the wildflowers that dot the trail, and to scout out gray whales, sea lions, and dolphins in the waters below.
Rustic Canyon Trail
Beginning in Will Rogers State Park, this 5-mile loop takes adventurous hikers across ambling creeks and often-wet, rugged trails. Around mile two, the trail opens up to an abandoned ranch founded in the 1930s by Nazi sympathizers. If World War II history isn’t your thing, keep climbing for a spectacular view over Rustic Canyon.
Eaton Canyon Natural Area
Eaton Canyon Natural Area is a 190-acre zoological, botanical, and geological nature preserve that features three family-friendly trails, with the most popular one ending in a stunning, 40-foot waterfall. For many, the main attraction lies at the end of the trail, where a natural wading pool makes for the perfect cool-down in warm summer months.
Mishe Mokwa Trail
Inside Santa Monica Hills National Recreation Area, this 3.5-mile trail heads through sage and chaparral scrubland to a beautiful oak grove at Split Rock. Enjoy views of Carlyle Canyon and Balanced Rock throughout the hike.