Solstice Canyon Hike and Bouldering, Malibu, CA - March 2012

My good friend V (long time Angeleno and current UK resident) was in town and wanted to reconnect with LA's beautiful open spaces so I took her to Solstice Canyon for the views and the wildlife and the waterfall. Plus, it's near some tide pooling areas which we thought we'd catch during low tide on the way back to LA. Here's where we were:

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I'd been to Solstice Canyon a few times before but never in the spring and I wondered what types of wildlife and wildflowers we might see.

Right when we arrived I saw some woodpeckers in the parking lot and, as I was checking them out, a man riding by on his bike told me about a hawk's nest nearby that we should check out. We found the nest and the hawk was inside, waiting for the chicks to be born. What a cool thing to see!

We hiked up the Rising Sun Trail to the Ranch with all of the fireplaces. We encountered a variety of wildflowers along the way including a couple of lupine, common deerweed (which is much more beautiful that the name implies), California cudweed and an elder in bloom. There had been a fire at some point in the canyon and the charred trees stood out against the lush green.

After a pit stop to do some maintenance on a stubborn camera, we headed to the waterfall. I'd been over to the top of the main falls before but never continued up. This time, we decided to explore and bit and found more waterfalls and pools of cool melt water. V even got to dip her feet in a bit. We decided we'd come back in the summer when the weather was hot and the icy water would be refreshing. Luckily the waterfall at Solstice Canyon runs all year.

Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea)
Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis)

 While near the Roberts house I was able to take some more photos of a plant I'd seen there before and that I hadn't been able to identify. It turned out to be Wigandia urens (AKA Fiberglass plant?). It was planted there on the so-called Tropical Terrace when the Roberts family lived in the house and now it is naturalized. 

Once we'd had our fill of bouldering we headed down the Solstice Canyon Trail back to the car and stopped for a quick visit to the tide pools at Malibu Lagoon. The low tide had been an hour earlier and only 0.4 feet (so not a super low tide) and there wasn't too much exposed rock to explore, but it was worth it to see some birds and a sea lion sunning on a rock.

During certain times of the year, the snowy plover nest in the sand and, although I'd never seen it before, this year that area was blocked off with ropes. The plovers and so small and sand-colored that they are hard to see and, I'm sure without the protected area, they are liable to get squished. Indeed, their eggs are also in danger without some protection.

For more photos of these locations from this and previous visits, see my Flickr sets: Solstice Canyon and Malibu Lagoon.