Solstice Canyon is itself a hidden treasure, but the Sostomo and Deer Valley Loop Trail is a treasure within the treasure. This 6.5-mile (round-trip) loop trail starts out on the uber popular Solstice Canyon Trail. Relatively flat and with tons of shade, it’s easy to see why this trail gets so crowded. After 1.3 miles, the trail forks and the Sostomo Trail begins snaking uphill. But before you turn off the main trail, take the brief side trip to see Robert’s Ranch House and waterfall. It’s like a jungle oasis, worth the extra effort.
The Sostomo and Deer Valley Trails are completely different from the Solstice Canyon Trail. Sostomo begins to climb immediately, and then descends, and then climbs … and descends. Over the next 3.9 miles the trail climbs 1,811 feet, but the awesome views help ease the pain. Sostomo Trail ends at the Deer Canyon Loop, forming a lollipop loop trail. Hiking the loop clockwise is easier to tackle, with gentler grades on the uphills.
As you hike deeper into the canyon, listen to the squawks of the wild parrots who call this area home. No crowds, breathtaking views of the canyon, tranquil stream crossings. The only downside to this trail? It isn’t well maintained, and it’s overgrown with invasive wild mustard (long pants are a must on this hike). And there is very little shade. Arrive either really early in the morning when the gates open or late in the afternoon to beat the heat. Either way, you’ll definitely beat the crowds.
NOW, THE BEACH! Treat yourself to some beach time at Corral Canyon Beach, just across Pacific Coast Highway from Corral Canyon Road. It’s perfect for an evening stroll or post-hike swim. Parking is free on PCH. Keep your eyes open for dolphins!
Solstice Canyon is in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in Malibu, 15 miles up the coast from the Santa Monica Pier, 4 miles down the coast from Kanan Dume Road. To reach trailhead parking (free), turn inland from Pacific Coast Hwy. on Corral Canyon Rd., then left through the gate toward Solstice Canyon. Continue a half-mile to the parking lot. Arrive early or late in the day for the best chance of nabbing a parking spot. Worst case, you can park on PCH, adding about 0.8 mile to your walk. Dog-friendly!