Sandstone Peak is one of the most popular hikes in Los Angeles, and an absolute must-do if you are looking for a great hike in the area. Best done in winter months to take advantage of the cooler weather and lush green from the rain, this trail hits all the marks for a perfect day in the Santa Monica mountains. Ocean view, mountain view, Malibu Lake and valley view paired with a good mix of ascents and descents, get ready for a great afternoon at Santa Monica mountain's tallest peak!
Length: 6.25 loop | Level: Moderate | Duration: 3 hours | Elevation: 1075 | Dogs: Yes on leash
There are two parking lots to arrive at the trail- the main one located HERE is the one most people park at for quickest access to the peak, or to do the full loop. There are two ways to do this hike. The way you choose depends on how fast you want to get to the highest peak and the time you have. For a quicker hike, take a left at the trail fork past the first ascent from the parking lot where the sign points 1.4 miles directly to Sandstone Peak. If you want to save that for last and do the full loop trail, take a right and follow signs for Mishe Mokwa Trail, and hike the full 6.1 miles. I chose the latter so the view point photos you see here follow that path. There's a map at the parking lot showing the overview of the whole trail system here as there are several turnoffs.
This is the first view you get once you ascend the Sandstone Peak hike trail head and get walking up Mishe Mokwa Trail. This also marks a perfect place for a group shot- love this hiking crew! Lots of great lunch spots and turnoffs along the way which is also why this hike is great for groups and all hiker levels. Dogs are also welcome on leash!
As you make your way through Sandstone Peak trail, there are some noted landmarks- Skull Rock, Balance Rock, Split Rock. All have little turn-offs from the main trail that you can explore to extend the hike longer up to 6.8 miles. We opted to not do those on this trip due to time, so the rest of the trail continues on through these rolling green mountains, and depending in rainfall a couple light river crossings as well.
Eventually as you make your way around the back of Sandstone Peak, you'll end up on the Santa Monica mountain's main connector trail, The Backbone trail. You'll want to follow signs to stay on Mishe Mokwa Trail, in the direction toward Inspiration Point which is the first major view point on your last few miles up to Sandstone Peak
Turn off the trail for a quick little stop at Inspiration Point. The view here is already pretty amazing and it only gets better from here! If there is one thing that Sandstone Peak hike offers, it's breathtaking overlooks!
And, it really doesn't get much better than that, until you go around the corner to the next peak as in the photo below. On this clear day, I got the mountains, ocean, and all this green! This is also one of the best places to have a picnic or just sit and enjoy the view. The road to the top is only about a mile or so from here and it will be less crowded than at the actual Sandstone Peak.
Not too far after that, you'll begin your final ascent of the Sandstone Peak trail. It's a bit steep on the last stretch, but totally manageable. You will see groups of people who bypassed the whole loop trail and ascended here right from the parking lot. In your view, you'll see the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains, Sandstone Peak! The bottom point of the mountain has this epic view below which ended up being my favorite spot on the hike!
The reward on this hike is definitely worth the work, as finally you've made it to the top. There's a little bit of scrambling to reach the ridge of the actual peak, but just be careful and be weary of the edge. If you time your hike right, there's no better place to catch the sunset than here!
I have to agree, Sandstone Peak hike is one of the best hikes and day outing in Los Angeles, especially after a good rain! Directions and info HERE in case you missed it above. Not one to miss! What is your favorite LA hike?
Thanks @cdubs872 for your photo contributions!
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