With year-round access and the Pacific Ocean as its backdrop, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the perfect destination with its blend of more than 150,000 acres of soft rolling hills, rugged mountains, wooded backcountry, and sandy beaches
Located just minutes from the urban sprawl of downtown Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Mountains are L.A.’s backyard and is the largest urban national park in the United States. A seamless system of federal, state, and local parklands, with places for endless outdoor activities
Ten Fun Things To Do Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area
King Gillette Ranch
Upon arrival to the area, a great place to start your trip is the visitors at King Gillette Ranch at Las Virgenes Road and Mulholland Highway. The center houses a gift shop and a display of interactive exhibits designed to educate visitors about the history, ecology, and wildlife of the Santa Monica Mountains. It also has a large interactive map of the entire recreation area with a trip planner and information about what activities are available. website. Address: 26800 Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas, CA 91302.
One of the highlights of visiting Paramount Ranch is its Western Movie town. Hundreds of movies and TV shows have been filmed here including several classic westerns. Paramount ranch is still used as a backdrop for filming so don’t be surprised if you see a film crew at work, especially if you visit during the week. Address: 2903 Cornell Rd, Agoura Hills, CA 91301.
Visitors to Peter Strauss Ranch enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery in the Santa Monica Mountains. There are several hiking trails to explore and the original ranch house is still on the property. The park also features events, including concerts, weddings, picnics, and art exhibits. Address: 30000 Mulholland Hwy, Agoura Hills, CA 91301.
Malibu Creek State Park
Most of the park’s trails are well marked and graded for easy hiking if you follow the main fire service roads. However, for those that seek a more challenging experience, there are plenty of other smaller hiking trails that branch off to various areas of the park. Address: 1925 Las Virgenes Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302.
Hikers have a choice of gentle or more energetic walks. Yellow Hill Fire Trail, suitable for all ages, offers panoramic views of the beach, and on a clear day, you can see Anacapa, Santa Catalina, and Santa Cruz Islands. The park also features a popular campground. Address: 35000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265.
Point Dume is at the northernmost point of Santa Monica bay about 18 miles along Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica. This 30-acre preserve features spectacular ocean views and secluded beach coves. On a clear day, you can see the Malibu coast all the way to Santa Monica. Address: Cliffside Dr & Birdview Ave, Malibu, CA 90265.
A nice feature of the park is the two-mile trail. You can access the trail from the tennis courts, west of the park headquarters. The trail has a 300-foot elevation gain and provides views of Rivas Canyons. There is a side spur to Inspiration Point where you can see stunning views of Santa Monica Bay, the city skyline, and the San Gabriel Mountains. Address: 1501 Will Rogers State Park Rd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272.
Known as the “jewel of the Santa Monica’s” and features a wide range of flora and fauna can be observed from the Backbone trail that spans from the west, all the way to Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades in the east. Address: 9000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265.
This architectural marvel is covered in thousands of ornate tiles and is perfectly situated on two acres of prime Southern California real estate. Also on the property is the Malibu Lagoon Museum adjacent to the Adamson House. The museum contains a collection of artifacts, rare photographs, and documents depicting the colorful history of Malibu. Address: 23200 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265.
The Backbone Trail System stretches for nearly 70 miles across the length of the park. Along the trail, hikers can expect stunning ocean views, hidden canyons, oak woodlands, and amazing rock formations. Camping areas are few along the trail so its best to plan multiple visits to enjoy the entire route. About the Backbone Trail.
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is located just off the Ventura Freeway approximately 51 miles from downtown Los Angeles. The area provides a seamless system of federal, state, and local parklands, with places for outdoor activities such as biking, birding, camping, horseback riding, and hiking,