Best Hiking Trails in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


The unique Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the largest urban national park in the United States with oceans vistas, rock formations, canyons, and mountain summits. The Mediterranean climate ecosystem protects over 1,000 plant species and inhabits numerous mammals, 400 species of birds, and 35 reptiles and amphibians. Hike to the Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the designated area. Don't worry, with 500-plus miles of hiking trails, you have plenty to choose from to stretch your legs in the hills or rest them by spending a day on the beaches.

Getting Started

Located roughly 20 miles northwest of Los Angeles, California, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area welcomes hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, climbers, and campers. Plan your trip ahead of time and try to visit during the week to avoid the weekend crowds.

Stop in at the Santa Monica Mountains Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center and chat with a ranger for up-to-date trail conditions and information.

The Mishe Mokwa Trail to Split Rock boasts views of Carlisle Canyon and Balanced Rock. For a gentle hike, consider walking 3.6 miles along the Solstice Hill Loop via Rising Sun Trail. Or, plan a multi-day trip and traverse the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area on the Backbone Trail, which spans 67 miles and connects the park from east to west.

Stay at the Circle X Ranch Group Campground or choose from one of the many state park campgrounds. Find various camping options here.

When to Go

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area's temperate location welcomes visitors every month of the year.


Access to the park, visitor centers, and trailheads are free.

Dog Info

Dogs are permitted within the area as long as they are kept on leash. Find out all the areas you can bring your pets here.


Seasonal Popularity