views of santa monica hikes

Santa Monica Hikes

Visitors to Santa Monica who want to spend a day away from the sandy beaches and polished cityscape will be delighted to discover there are multiple beautiful hikes near Santa Monica. Although Santa Monica proper doesn’t have wilderness areas, you don’t have to go far to find great trails. Some of the best hikes near Santa Monica and the surrounding Los Angeles area are free and include amenities like a nearby parking lot and are rarely overcrowded. Lace up your boots and get ready for cliffs and ocean views while you discover Santa Monica hikes, treks and trail loops – some of the most gorgeous in the United States.

santa monica hiking trails

Can You Hike in Santa Monica Mountains?

Some of the most impressive and beautiful hikes near Santa Monica are found in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area’s coastal hills and nearby areas. The area is known for panoramic views of Los Angeles and the coast, and hundreds of hiking options that span thousands of acres.

No matter which of these or the many other Santa Monica hikes you choose, you’re sure to enjoy the gorgeous views and natural beauty of the area. Hikes near Santa Monica are plentiful and with something for everyone, they are a great way to spend a day during your visit to Santa Monica, California!

Read on for some of the coolest Santa Monica Hikes that the area has to offer.

Santa Monica Hiking Trails

Los Leones Trail

Los Leones Trail is a scenic hiking trail about 6 miles from Santa Monica. It Is a 4.4 mile train with an elevation gain of around 1190 feet. This is a popular trail and you will often find other hiker, bird watchers or runners along the way. Here you will get some amazing views of Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean.

Mishe Mokwa Trail

The Mishe Mokwa Trail is open to hikers and their leashed dogs all year-round and features beautiful and diverse landscapes. It has an elevation gain of around 1,500 feet, so it is considered a good trail for hikers of a moderate skill level. You can follow trail markers on this hike all the way to a few famous landmarks, the first being Split Rock near some amazing oak trees, and another being Sandstone Peak, the tallest point in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area at over 3,100 feet! Be sure to bring some water and a snack – this Santa Monica hiking trail is almost 7 miles if you continue on to see the mentioned landmarks.

Solstice Canyon Loop

The Solstice Canyon Loop is a family-friendly hike that is considered moderate, though it is relatively brief. Enjoy a beautiful babbling creek alongside your journey until you reach a quaint waterfall. The elevation gain is about 800 feet on this 3-mile loop, and the trail is well manicured. Other fun features of this hike include panoramic ocean views and the ruins of an old ranch house mansion that locals call the “Tropical Terrace.” The National Park Service maintains these ruins so visitors can explore this unique attraction during their Santa Monica hikes.

Paramount Ranch

Another unique attraction that can be seen during hikes near Santa Monica is the Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Paramount Pictures Corporation used the area to film many iconic movies and television series over the decades, and now the attraction is maintained by the National Park Service where visitors can enjoy several short hiking trails around the ranch area and see where famous titles like M*A*S*H and Westworld were filmed. Check out other opportunities like mountain biking trails, wildlife viewing and horseback riding while you’re there.

Temescal Canyon Loop

A great hike within Topanga State Park is the Temescal Canyon Loop Trail, located near the Temescal Gateway park area. The trail offers a parking lot for a small fee and features just under 900 feet of elevation gain in about 3 miles. If you want to complete a longer and slightly more challenging extension of this hike, you’ll be able to see the famous Skull Rock and some breathtaking views of the Santa Monica Bay.

Paseo Miramar Trail

Another Santa Monica hiking trail that can’t be missed in Topanga State Park is the Paseo Miramar Trail. It’s known for being extremely scenic, although slightly more challenging than moderate. Hikers can expect to gain over 1,200 feet in elevation during the 5-mile hike. It features gorgeous views of the homes near the Pacific Palisades neighborhood, as well as panoramic views of the sea that will awe anyone on this Santa Monica hike.

Rustic Canyon Trail

Will Rogers State Park is an historic state park full of hikes near Santa Monica. It also is the beginning point for one of the more difficult Santa Monica hikes in the area, Rustic Canyon Trail, which leads hikers along beautiful views and past a World War II historic site. This route is not for the faint of heart, however. It is about 4 and a half miles with around 1,000 feet of elevation gain on rugged terrain. Although it is open year-round, be sure to check conditions before embarking, as the quality of the trail varies with the weather.

Inspiration Point Trail

Inspiration Point Trail is a quicker and more moderate hike near Santa Monica in Will Rogers State Park that’s friendly for hikers of all experience levels. It’s family-friendly at just over 2 miles and a very mild elevation gain of just over 300 feet. This Santa Monica hiking trail also allows visitors to see the Will Rogers ranch house and panoramic view of the surrounding Los Angeles area.