Solstice Canyon Coda


View from Rising Sun Trail, Solstice Canyon Malibu

Continued from previous post

What I love about Solstice Canyon is that this area is really tangled with trails with varying degrees of difficulty from a casual stroll to navigating switchbacks, all mixed with a lot of nature, architecture, and history to see along the way. I consistently recommend Solstice Canyon to a lot of Angelenos looking for places to hike.

The easy path:

The path from the parking lot leads you east on a shaded trail into the canyon. Solstice has water all year round and for most of this trail you are guided in by a stream which source is a surprise at the end.

Not far into the hike you will notice a house hiding in the trees up on a hill from the main trail. Another trail brings you up for closer look at Keller House the first stone house built in Malibu. (Dates for this house vary, but the plaque in front reads 1904) The walls are all that remain after a fire swept through the area a hundred years later. It had been, so I have heard, completely intact before the fire.

Hiking through Malibu’s canyons really is the cheapest aromatherapy session you can get in Los Angeles. Solstice is rather exceptional in the various therapeutic flora. The sweetness of wild sage fills your nostrils, hints of rosemary from the wild bushes that grow in the area, both better when you crack and release the oils and rub them between your fingers. Suddenly something that smells like dill makes you feel calm but also hungry for Thanksgiving dinner. This aromatherapy lasts your entire hike no mater which trail you decide to take.

Last time I hiked the area there was still a lot of evidence of various fires that have swept through the area in the last three decades. Hollowed out and dead trees were transformed into beehives, sometimes the buzzing of the bees and wasps was so loud that it is hard to hear the person next to you. I was lured to take a picture of a heart shaped hole in one tree only to notice movement of its bark. When I moved closer I realized it was a snake feasting on bees or honey, I didn’t get close enough to figure that out.


Snake feasting on bees, Solstice Canyon


Stairs to Tropical Terrace, Solstice Canyon

The second house in Solstice Canyon also sits in its shell like form. Tropical Terrace/Roberts Ranch once graced the pages of Architectural Digest is now nothing more than its foundation and the five fireplaces that were once boastful features of the property. Now it looks like ancient ruins inhabited by a tribe of sunbathing lizards. It is fun to explore and imagine what living here was like. Martini’s in hand alternating fireplaces on certain days of the week. Monday’s fireplace, Tuesday’s fireplace etc., etc.

If you want to know more about Tropical Terrace and the people who built the house and lived there here is a piece from LAist.

South of Tropical Terrace is a waterfall. Heavily shaded, cool, and humid, this spot serves as a nice break for either the walk back or one of the trails that branch off from this point.

The difficult:

This trip we followed a trail to see where it went, unfortunately for me, where it went was teetering on the side of a mountain. (Not the biggest fan of heights) The switchbacks up to the Rising Sun Trail confuse you a bit, back and forth, back and forth, until suddenly you realize that you are on top of the world. A world no one seems to visit too much. The trail isn’t maintained and the bushes that are being pollinated by bees hang into the trail. Be careful if you are allergic to bees. You often hear rustling from different parts of the trail. Expecting a coyote, it is actually small lizards that dart off the trail and away from you. An audio illusion.

The trail up here alternates between inward turns that bring you close to the grand houses that sit close the park and outward turns that hug the ridgeline with views down into the canyon. At one point you are brought upward with a postcard view of the Pacific. This part is very beautiful and a great reward for the climb. I think it is one of the best views in the area.

This Rising Sun Trail ultimately ends at the parking lot. Both the easy path, Solstice Canyon Trail, the more difficult Rising Sun, make a really good pairing if you want to visit this area.

Website: Solstice and trail map 

Cost: There is no entrance fee for the park, but there may be a cost for parking. After combing through the website and other info, I couldn’t find it. Please see this post for a good deal on parking at beaches and national parks in Southern California. 

Ages: All. Refer to the flyer website and trail info for more detail about the hikes and their level of difficulty

[Getting there by bus: 534]

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