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Solstice Canyon, CA

no permit
52 4 0
Guide 4 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > Los Angeles
3.5 of 5 by 2
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Loop 3.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 139 feet
Elevation Gain 625 feet
Accumulated Gain 700 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.7
Interest Ruins, Historic, Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
9  2018-10-12 fricknaley
3  2016-07-01 WanderingDad
40  2014-12-26 winotron
Author winotron
author avatar Guides 2
Routes 6
Photos 1,167
Trips 298 map ( 1,218 miles )
Age 37 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, May, Nov → Early
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:39am - 5:59pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
A Lush Riparian Canyon in the Santa Monicas
by winotron

Solstice Canyon is a lush riparian canyon in Malibu, in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Santa Monica Mountains stretch about 40 miles from Hollywood at the east end, to Ventura County at the west end. This is a popular, family-friendly hike, with ruins of an old mansion called the "Tropical Terrace", a perennial creek, a perennial waterfall, and if you're a little more adventurous, breathtaking ocean views.

This hike is a 3.2 mile loop combining the the Rising Sun Trail and the Solstice Canyon Trail. I will describe this hike going CCW starting with the Rising Sun Trail. The perennial creek flows all the way to the trailhead, and it's a great way to start your hike. From the north side of the parking lot head up the set of stairs on your right to get on the Rising Sun Trail. You'll start getting some nice views of the Pacific Ocean right away as you climb. You'll get almost all of your AEG on this trail, but it's nothing too steep. The whole Rising Sun Trail is also very exposed, with little to no shade. The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow. You'll slowly ascend the east side of the canyon, checking out all the crazy mansions up in the hills.

About a mile into the trail you'll start descending into the canyon through a series of switchbacks. You'll start to see the ruins of the Tropical Terrace below you, obscured by all the huge oaks, sycamores, and non-native tropical plants, including some palm trees. The ruins are very cool to see, and are very photogenic and well-preserved. It must have been amazing living in a place like this. The Tropical Terrace was owned by Fred Roberts, a wealthy owner of a chain of grocery stores in the Santa Monica area. Fred and his wife, Florence, commissioned renowned architect Paul R. Williams in the early 1950s to design their dream retirement home. Solstice Canyon was known for frequent wildfires, and unfortunately the Tropical Terrace met its demise in 1982.

The creek runs right next to the ruins, and you'll see a sign directing you just upstream to the waterfall. The Roberts family had a view of this waterfall right out their back window. The small, cascading waterfall is maybe 25 ft tall, with a small pool at the bottom. It's a very nice, serene area. When you've had your fill of the waterfall, head to the west side of the ruins and take the mostly-paved Solstice Canyon, which is really a wide fire road, back to the trailhead. It's just over a mile back to the trailhead, and is very pleasant and shaded most of the way. You parallel the creek to your left the whole way, and it's lined with huge old oaks and sycamores. Most people just hike this trail up to the ruins and back, which is about 2.5 miles round trip and 400 AEG. There are a few interpretive signs along the way that give you some history of the area, and there are some ruins of another small stone house that burned down in 2007 that you can check out. You'll be back to the parking lot before you know it.

If you want those spectacular ocean views, you can extend your hike in a couple ways. Immediately when you start heading back from the ruins on the Solstice Canyon Trail you'll see a sign for the Sostomo Trail on your right. This trail will immediately take you up and out of the west side of the canyon, then down to a creek crossing and back up again. It's fairly steep and a heck of a workout... you'll climb about 1000 ft in just over a mile.

You'll meet a junction with the Deer Valley Loop Trail, which is another optional 1.3 mile loop that will just bring you back to this point. The signs here are a bit confusing, but no matter which way you go you'll end up back at this spot. Watch out for signs marking private property. Keep heading south on Sostomo to an absolutely breathtaking panoramic ocean view. From here you can keep following Sostomo and loop back around on Deer Valley, or just return the way you came. On our trip we did the entire loop and our hike came to about 7.5 miles and 2000 AEG.

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2014-12-30 winotron
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Review
    Solstice Canyon
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Our 2nd and unfortunately last hike of our Christmas vacation in LA. I wanted to visit Santa Monica and the Malibu/Santa Monica Mtns area. I read about this hike and it really interested me. A perennial creek and waterfall, and some ruins to explore...count me in. So we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway and got to the trailhead around 10am. We were surprised to find plenty of parking available.

    You have a few different loop options here. We took an immediate right up the stairs and got onto the Rising Sun Trail. It was a pretty good climb up and out of the east side of the canyon. We had ocean views behind us pretty much right away. There's no shade on this trail at all, but it was very chilly and breezy today, so we welcomed the sun. We saw hardly anyone on this part of the hike. About a mile and a half into the trail we started descending the switchbacks down to the creek and the Tropical Terrace house ruins area.

    The ruins were awesome, but there were a lot of other people hanging around there. It was cool to see the vegetation reclaiming the area. There were a lot of non-native tropical plants, and some palm trees. The ruins are well-preserved. We went over to the waterfall just behind the ruins and hung out there for a bit. Very serene, and I always love the sound of running water. Crazy to imagine this place being someone's back yard.

    We started back on the main Solstice Canyon Trail, which was far busier than the Rising Sun Trail. We didn't want to cut the hike so short, so we ended up taking a right onto the Sostomo Trail. I really couldn't find a whole lot of useful information on the trails in this area, so I wasn't exactly sure where it was going, except that it obviously went up. It ended up taking us pretty steeply up and out of the west side of the canyon, down to a creek crossing, and then back up out of the canyon again. The view down into the canyon was nice, and as we climbed the ocean views got even better. We climbed probably ~1000ft in just over a mile. Definitely a workout!

    We came to a junction with the Deer Valley Loop Trail. I wasn't sure where that went either, but we figured what the heck. It ended up looping us back around to this very same junction. It was mostly uneventful up here, except for when we came to a southern overlook and we had an absolutely spectacular panorama of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding mountains. As a native Arizonan that very rarely sees an ocean, an ocean view like this just stopped me in my tracks. We stopped and took in the views for several minutes before continuing. This spot alone was worth all the extra mileage and AEG.

    We looped back to the main trail and followed that back to the trailhead. It was a nice, peaceful stroll, and we were back to the parking lot in no time. This ended up being a MUCH more strenuous hike than I intended, which I was fine with. My girlfriend, not so much. :) This was a really great day hike.

    A lot of the sycamores actually still had a bit of fall foliage on them.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Los Angeles, take the Pacific Coast Highway north to Malibu. A few miles after Pepperdine University, look for Corral Canyon Rd. on your right and turn there. Take an immediately left onto Solstice Canyon Rd. and follow that for 0.5 miles to the trailhead. If the main lot is full, there is overflow parking back at the beginning of Solstice Canyon Rd.
    page created by winotron on Dec 30 2014 10:10 am
    3 pack - loud whistle
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