Solstice Canyon, Malibu - July 2011

After almost 2 months of traveling (Michigan, Ohio, Palm Springs, Las Vegas) I was ready to reacquaint myself with Southern California hiking. A friend had recently been to Solstice Canyon, part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and recommended it (waterfall all year long!) so 4th of July weekend we headed to Malibu to check it out.

Here's where we were:

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The traffic was pretty terrible on the way (that's what we get for going on Sat afternoon of a holiday weekend), but once we got there it wasn't crowded enough to be annoying. There's a parking lot right when you turn off Corral Canyon Rd., but if you keep driving you'll soon get to another, larger lot that's right at the trailhead and near some restrooms. Parking is free.

The main trail is the paved Solstice Canyon Rd. You can get a nice trail map here.

We kept to the main trail and passed the ruins of the Keller House on the right. The stone house was built in 1907 and although it survived many wildfires in the area, it was burned down in the 2007 Corral fire. Make sure to go over the bridge on your right to get a closer look.

We hiked up to the Roberts Ranch House (which is in ruins, but still features 5, yes 5, fireplaces) . . .

Built in 1952, the house was designed by renowned architect Paul Williams. The house incorporated stunning natural features within its design, including waterfalls, springs and trees.

I really enjoyed this leisurely hike. The water and shade made the temps cool and refreshing even in the heat of summer. There were many wildflowers, butterflies, lizards and birds along the way. Bees had made hives in the burnt out trees and, although they didn't bother us, the sound was deafening relative to the quiet of the canyon - and strangely soothing. I even saw some tadpoles in the stream (maybe bullfrogs).

Here are some more photos of our trip.

Palms and Pines

Scarlet Monkeyflower
(Mimulus cardinalis)
Genus Plumbago
(probably Cape Leadwort, Plumbago auriculata)

Chaparral Mallow
(Malacothamnus fasciculatus)

Genus Calystegia
(Possibly Island False Bindweed, Calystegia macrostegia)

Next time I'm at Solstice Canyon, I want to take the Rising Sun Trail which I hear is beautiful but isn't for the weak of heart (or anyone afraid of heights or falling from them!). Sounds like fun! (UPDATE: I went back to Rising Sun Trail a couple of weeks later. Check out the post here).

For more photos from this location see my Flickr set here.


  1. I love Solstice Canyon! I used to live there when I worked for the Park Service... but the building I once lived in also burned down in the 2007 fire. The Rising Sun trail isn't actually that bad for heights, it's a bit steep but not that precarious unless it's changed a lot since I've been there (entirely possible due to the fire).

    The best thing about Solstice Canyon is the creek, it is springfed and one of the only ones in the mountain range that runs all year. Thus it can support alders which can't survive in creeks that dry out. The fire knocked the alders back but they are growing in again. It is also a potential Steelhead Trout spawning site, once they fix the bridge on Highway 1 that blocks the fish.

    Enjoy the canyon!

  2. Thanks Charlie! I'm pretty sure I saw some Alders there when I went back this weekend. I didn't know what these strange plants were but once you mentioned it I looked at some photos and it seems right. I'll upload to iNat and you can decide. We took the Rising Sun Trail this time and you're right, it's steep but not precarious - although it could be if you have a fear of falling. Thanks again for the comment.


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