Parking is located off Bonsall Driver in Malibu, CA
Zuma Canyon is another hidden gem in the Santa Monica Mountains. There are 3 options for parking and hitting various trails. For our first visit, we took a sharp right turn off PCH, across the street from Zuma beach. If you’re not paying attention, you can easily miss the turn onto Bonsall Drive. It’s a short neighborhood drive, including a drive over a very full Zuma creek, to a small parking lot.
Since it was a cool and foggy morning, we decided to start off with the Zuma Loop Trail, hike part of the Zuma Canyon Trail, head out of the canyon on the Camyon View Trail, and back down to the parking lot on the Ocean View Trail. All in all, we hiked about 5 miles.
It was a beautiful morning. Baxter enjoyed himself immensely. We passed small groups of hikers and the lower part of the canyon appears to be heavily used by horseback riders. We kept running into one rider and her horse. There’s often little room to move to the side to let horses pass. Baxter did bark and startle the horse initially but then soon lost interest. The horse on the other hand was completely terrified of this little 20 pound ball of sound and fury. We felt so bad.
There was moderate shade in the canyon itself. The creek was very full from recent rains and had washed out parts of the Zuma Canyon Trail. We had one tricky crossing to get to the Canyon View Trail. Since Baxter is portable, we could pick him up and hop from rock to rock. Even though it was cold, he still went into the creek up to his chest enjoying the water. The creek was moving too fast for us to feel comfortable letting him cross on his own. The Canyon View Trail had moderate elevation gains and no shade at all. Since it was so overcast, it wasn’t an issue but I’d be careful on sunny days. The Ocean View trail was mostly downhill back to the parking lot and also had no shade.
It could have been the cool weather or the early hour, but this was a low key, peaceful area to hike with small crowds and gorgeous surroundings. But word of warning, there were a lot of ticks! We spotted several on Baxter and ourselves while hiking. We had to do a very careful check on our shoes, pants, and Baxter afterwards.