Rising high above the city smog, surrounded by green, rolling hills and framed by the famous, endless summer waves of Malibu, rests Sandstone Peak, aka Mount Allen – the tallest point in the Santa Monica Mountains. At 3,111 feet, this peak can be reached via a 6.25-mile loop with a 1,075 elevation gain, granting you major bragging rights, as well as stellar views.
Our favorite way to start this hike is a with a cook out! – yep that’s right – we pack a picnic, bring our mini grill along and head towards Malibu until we find just the right spot. Some days we opt for a seaside view, while other days we go for a heightened sense of perspective up in the canyons:
For so many reasons we tend to take every single LA visitor we get on this hike – from mom and dad to cousins and friends, and it’s even dog friendly! This hike just packs all the things that we love about LA into 1 pretty little package:
Getting to the trailhead is simple, we drive up Yerba Buena road until reaching a dirt parking lot (map here). There’s a restroom available for one last pit spot before hitting the trail, which starts at the North end of the lot. Here’s a view of the lot from above:
The first part of the journey starts on the Backbone Trail – and let me and all our visitors tell you, this baby is steep. Luckily, after .3 miles, you’ll make a left onto the Mishe Mokwa Trail, which is a wide dirt and rock path with a much more gradual ascent, offering some unforgettable views early on:
As the trail continues, the views only get better and vaster. The deep and lush ravines, the sandstone Echo Cliffs lined with rock climbers, and the wildflowers and colorful critters that greet you along the way! There is never a dull moment on the journey to the top:
How beautiful is this little guy?!
And this stunning blue bird!:
Just before reaching the top there is an sign letting you know that you are almost there! This is then followed by a set of steep stairs, making you realize… you are still not there yet… but keep on keeping on! – it’s totally worth it.
After this final set of stair steppers, it’s just a few more feet of steep rock scrambling before reaching the summit! Once you see the plaque at the top of the mountain, you know you have arrived – it’s now time to relax and enjoy the view:
Check out the full moon:
Oh and you have to be sure to write a little something in the adventure book at the top! It’s in the slot under the Mount Allen plaque – you can’t miss it:
Thanks to the amazing California weather patterns, we have been blessed with some of the most beautiful of days – nothing but clear, blue skies for miles:
Then, there have been those other days… those days with fog so thick it’s as if we have to push it out of our way to get through:
Regardless of the weather, time of day, or season, every time we do this hike we experience something uniquely special… but we do have to admit – we are total suckers for that hour right before sunset where the entire California coast turns to gold, they don’t call it LA la land for nothing:
And how do we make an already incredible hike even more memorable? We drive back to Malibu, park at Neptune’s Net and walk down to the beach to watch the sunset over the Pacific – which is of course followed by a d’lish meal at Neptune’s, one of our favorite SoCal spots:
No wonder we keep coming back for more, can you blame us?! I can’t wait until the next repeat… more like eight-peat 😉