Best Hikes in Santa Monica: A Hiker’s Dream Destination

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Ah, Santa Monica! Famous for its picturesque beaches, iconic pier, and of course, those mesmerizing sunsets that paint the Californian skies. But did you know, nestled just a stone’s throw from the beach, lies a haven for hiking enthusiasts? That’s right! Santa Monica boasts a variety of trails, each promising breathtaking vistas and a unique hiking experience. Whether you’re a casual stroller or an avid trekker, Santa Monica has something for everyone. Let’s dive into the best trails, categorized by level of difficulty.




Easy: Perfect For Beginners

1. Santa Monica Beach Path

santa monica route 66 pier sign
  • Distance: 3.5 miles

  • Vibe: A laid-back stroll with ocean views


This flat path is a quintessential Santa Monica experience. Walking beside the Pacific Ocean, with the soft sand on one side and bustling life of the city on the other, it’s a must for first-timers. Bask in the serene ocean views and feel that soft sea breeze on your face.

2. Palisades Park Trail

palisades park, santa monica
  • Distance: 1.5 miles

  • Vibe: A serene escape amidst the city

Located atop the coastal bluffs, this trail offers panoramic views of the ocean. The pathway is adorned with native plants and sculptures, making it not just a hike, but a cultural journey. Ideal for families and those looking for a gentle walk.

3. South Bay Bicycle Trail

  • Distance: 22 miles (but you can choose shorter segments)

  • Vibe: A scenic coastal ride or walk

Though primarily a bike trail, this path is also great for walkers. Starting from Santa Monica, you can venture as far as Torrance Beach, passing through Venice, Manhattan, and other picturesque beach towns along the way.



Intermediate: For Those Seeking A Bit Of A Challenge

1. Los Liones Trail to Parker Mesa Overlook

  • Distance: 7.3 miles

  • Vibe: Dense greenery leading to panoramic ocean views


Starting from the lush Los Liones Canyon, this trail winds its way up to the Parker Mesa Overlook. Once there, you’re rewarded with awe-inspiring views of the Pacific, making the uphill trek absolutely worth it!

2. Temescal Canyon Loop

temescal canyon loop, santa monica
  • Distance: 2.6 miles

  • Vibe: Waterfalls and canyon views

This loop trail, not far from Santa Monica, offers a perfect blend of shaded canyons and sunlit ridges. The occasional waterfall and the sweeping canyon views provide a refreshing experience for hikers.

3. Will Rogers State Historic Park Trails

  • Distance: Varies (up to 5 miles)

  • Vibe: Historic landmarks and green meadows

Home to several trails, Will Rogers offers a glimpse into California’s history, with its preserved ranch house and polo field. The Inspiration Point Loop is a favorite, offering panoramic views of Santa Monica Bay.

Advanced: For The Adventurous Sou

1. Backbone Trail

santa monica mountains trails
  • Distance: 67 miles (in sections or its entirety)

  • Vibe: The ultimate Santa Monica Mountains experience

This extensive trail traverses the entire length of the Santa Monica Mountains. While you can tackle individual sections, completing the entire trail is a badge of honor among avid hikers.

2. Topanga State Park: Eagle Rock Loop

  • Distance: 4.5 miles

  • Vibe: Rocky outcrops and expansive views

Located in nearby Topanga, This loop takes you to Eagle Rock, an iconic formation in the Santa Monica Mountains. The climb might be tough, but the panoramic views from atop make the sweat and strain worth it!

3. Malibu Creek State Park Trails

  • Distance: Varies (up to 8 miles)

  • Vibe: Rugged terrains and serene lakes

This park is home to a web of trails that offer varying degrees of difficulty. Though located about 25 miles from Santa Monica, its unique attractions, including the MAS*H site, with its remnants from the famous TV show, and the Rock Pool, a popular spot for climbers, are must-visits.

So there you have it, fellow adventurers! Santa Monica isn’t just about sandy beaches and bustling promenades. Its trails promise a delightful escape into nature’s embrace. Lace up those hiking boots, pack some snacks, and hit the trails. After all, the mountains are calling, and in Santa Monica, you must go! 🌄

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