Big Sycamore, Big Views

A Hike in Big Sycamore Canyon, a Dip in Sycamore Cove Beach

The coolest part of the Big Sycamore Canyon Loop Trail in Point Mugu State Park? Every stretch offers something new, from rocky bluffs to grassy valleys, coastal views to majestic mountains. This 9-mile (round-trip) trail is best hiked in a counterclockwise direction. That way, the scenery gets more awe-inspiring mile by mile, as you climb about 1,200 feet from the Malibu coast into the Santa Monica Mountains and back.

As you leave the trailhead, the trail progresses at a gentle incline into the canyon. The first section along Sycamore Canyon Fire Road offers some shade as it passes through groves filled with towering oaks, native walnuts, and, you guessed it, sycamores. Cross over several streams as you head deeper into Sycamore Canyon, where you’ll share the trail with mountain bikers and, possibly, rattlesnakes.

Big Sycamore Canyon Point Mugu State Park

 

Once you turn onto the Canyon/Overlook Fire Road, things get tough. This section is very steep, with no shade and no breeze in the protected canyon. But as soon as you pass the intersection with the North Overlook and Valley Fire Roads (stay on the Overlook Fire Road), it’s all smooth sailing for the rest of the hike.

Big Sycamore Canyon Point Mugu State Park

When you’re on the east side of the mountains, panoramic views of Big Sycamore Canyon and the jagged pinnacles of Boney Mountains State Wilderness Area surround you, and when the trail wraps around to the west side, it’s views of the Pacific Ocean as far as the eye can see, with waves crashing onto the scenic Malibu beaches below.

NOW, THE BEACH! Post-hike, treat yourself to some beach time at Sycamore Cove. Just past the restrooms on the north side of the parking is an underpass leading to the beach, where there’s plenty of sand to sprawl out on to the left of the tunnel exit. A perfect beach for kicking back and relaxing tired feet! The waves and currents can get intense here, so it’s best to stay where you can easily stand. Be careful near the rocks at the tunnel exit. And don’t forget to look back toward the canyon to see what you just conquered!

Big Sycamore Canyon is in Point Mugu State Park in Malibu, 20 miles up the coast from the intersection of PCH and Kanan Dume Rd. Turn inland on Sycamore Canyon Rd. to park in the day-use parking area (fee applies). Big Sycamore Canyon trailhead is at the far end of Sycamore Canyon Campground—just follow the signs. No dogs on the trails.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Cañada Collage

    This 4.3-mile loop through Cañada Del Oro Open Space Preserve showcases all the highlights of the season, thrumming with wildlife and wildflowers.

    View
  2. The Beauty of Bainbridge Island

    You know a place is special when locals head to it for their in-state vacations. Follow the lead of Seattleites and venture to beautiful Bainbridge Island in the heart of Puget Sound on the Kitsap Peninsula. Hike the Grand Forest here, meet Pia the Peacekeeper, and enjoy tasty food and drinks.

    View
  3. Little Norway

    There aren’t many small towns in America that look and feel like Europe, but Washington State sure seems to have a few! Lesser known among them is Poulsbo on the Kitsap Peninsula. Dubbed “Little Norway,” this hamlet on the waterfront of Liberty Bay is charmed with Scandinavian influence.  

    View
  4. old church on Monterey Path of History

    Path of History Walk (+ Food Bonuses)

    Monterey’s 2-mile yellow tiled, multilingual Path of History is a do-it-yourself stroll among some of the area’s most interesting, beautiful, and culturally significant sites, including through the Old Town, past Mexican-era adobes, and to the beautiful Royal Presidio Chapel.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Sponsored

    A Very Bavarian Spring

    Ready to change up your spring scenery? Pack your bags for this alpine adventure in Washington State’s Cascade Mountains. The Bavarian-style hamlet of Leavenworth could be a stand-in for a mountain village in Europe.

    View
  2. Be Dune-spired!

    There’s only one urban park on the planet that helped inspire a major theme in Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi book, Dune. Herbert was born and raised in Tacoma, and Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park is named in honor of his famous novel—a tribute to one of the book’s main ideas ...

    View
  3. Go Big in Bremerton

    Make your way to the largest city on the Kitsap Peninsula, Bremerton. Best known for its naval and maritime heritage, there’s also plenty of outdoors to explore, including a hidden treasure within the Puget Sound Basin: the Keta Legacy Foundation Rhododendron Preserve.

    View
  4. Dume in Bloom

    During wildflower season, nature puts on a spectacular show, and one the best places to see it is at Point Dume Natural Preserve in Malibu. 

    View