For a long time I had been telling my mom about Sandstone Peak and the Santa Monica Mountains. She never seemed willing to go there because of the long drive through L.A. Finally, on Saturday morning I said, “We’re going.” We left San Diego at 9am, which was a rather late start, but we weren’t in a rush. Fortunately, the traffic wasn’t too bad as we were able to take the carpool lanes. The Santa Monica Mountains are in Ventura County, near the landmark Malibu State Beach. Off the 101 freeway I took the Westlake Boulevard exit and headed west towards the ocean. Our destination was the Sandstone Peak trailhead. To get there you have to drive on a very curvy, steep, and narrow road, (watch out for the road cyclists), but it is very beautiful. Just keep your eyes on the road and let the passengers marvel at the scenery. After driving the hairpin turns we arrived at the lot at 11:45am. And yes, it was full, as this is a popular hiking destination. We got are gear together and started around noon. This is a beautiful area with interesting rock formations, canyons, cliffs and views of the valley and ocean. It’s popular with rock climbers as well. From the trailhead we took the Mishe Mokwa Trail.
There is plenty of shade along the trail and it’s well-maintained although I did see a lot of trash along the trail which irked me. I don’t think they were conscientious hikers. On the trail you’ll see interesting boulders and rocks, such as Balanced Rock. We tried to access Balanced Rock, but the trail is not maintained by the park.
The Mishe Mokwa Trail meets the Backbone Trail, which goes to Point Mugu State Park. We went in the direction of Sandstone Peak. Once you pass the two water tanks you’ll find yourself on the way to some spots with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. It was overcast along the coast so we couldn’t see the islands, but I liked the way the clouds hugged the coast.
And then you get to the part where you can go up to Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains. I had already been up there, but my mom didn’t feel like going up there as it was too crowded. So we continued on to the trailhead. From here it’s a descent to the parking lot. Overall, this is a neat place to visit if you’re in the L.A. area.