Nestled amongst the Santa Monica Mountains and adjacent to the popular Malibu Creek State Park lies the lesser-known Las Virgenes View Trail, an undemanding 4-mile hike offering an incredible display of wildlife, flora, and views galore.
A winding path up through the hills, Las Virgenes View Trail ends in a panoramic 360-degree view of the gorgeous canyons, mountains, and horizons that the surrounding Malibu area has to offer for any hiker, biker, or outdoor enthusiast.
- Trail type: Out-and-back
- Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
- Length: 4 miles
- Elevation gain and loss: 700 feet, -700 feet
- Trailhead Coordinates: 34.104268, -118.710881
- Location: Santa Monica Mountains
- Season: Year-round
Getting to Las Virgenes Trail
Las Virgenes View Trail is a simple drive to get to, with the trailhead right off the street at the intersection of Las Virgenes Road and Mulholland Highway with plenty of parking either close to the path or nearby at Malibu Creek State Park.
The car ride to the trail is half of the experience in terms of a scenic drive no matter what direction you’re departing from. Coming from the San Fernando Valley, you can take the 101 until the Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon exit and then take the beautiful (and usually traffic-free) road through the hills all the way to the trailhead.
Alternatively, take the Pacific Coast Highway for some extra sightseeing before turning on Malibu Canyon Road up to the destination.
While it may seem a nondescript, dusty path at its beginning, Las Virgenes View Trail will surprise you by frequently changing in terms of environment and landscape throughout your journey to the top.
Starting out with a typical switchback trail, the path eventually climbs up into the hills and further away from society, engulfing the hiker in an array of succulent plants, tall trees, and fascinating rock formations.
Even while the start of the trail is just tall grass and a dirt walkway, the views of the surrounding Calabasas area can be appreciated the entire way up, and by the time one itches for something different to look at, the trail changes trajectory and the opposite horizon becomes the new focal point.
Eventually, the track will become a little steeper, and a little more difficult to climb, but still nothing too hazardous for even beginner hikers. The simple dirt trail gives away to rockier terrain and an increase in elevation, but the trail is leisurely and there are plenty of places to take a break and soak in your surroundings.
Along the way, the open trail will condense into a tighter walkway bordered by the type of towering trees and growing brush known to the area. As the noise of the outside world turns into just the whistle of canyon winds and the music of the birds, the area becomes almost magical as one gets lost up into the winding knolls and rises. Take your time getting in tune with nature, and just at the perfect moment, the climbing path will lead to its highest point and present its climactic view.
At the top of Las Virgenes View Trail, there may not be a specific observation deck or flag to let one know they’ve arrived at their destination, but the surrounding display of rolling California countryside is all one needs to feel like the hike was more than worthwhile.
Walking along the remainder of the path, there is a 360-degree, unobstructed view of the entire area with no two directions giving the hiker the same sort of perspective.
Gaze West towards Malibu until the sky becomes hazy over the canyons where it meets the Ocean. Look East for undulating peaks and almost untouched, preserved nature stretching as far as the eye can see.
There are no bad viewpoints, and it’s a great type of hike to stop at the top and breathe it all in before heading back down. In fact, while any time of day, or even season, is a fine time to visit, Las Virgenes is one of the trails on the list that almost demands to be traversed near sunrise or sunset to experience its splendor.
Some of the bonus benefits of Las Virgenes are what really make it a prime destination for lone adventurers. While neighboring Malibu Creek State Park is equally gorgeous, Las Virgenes is much less populated and much quieter (of my three trips, two of them were devoid of any other hikers).
A big selling point for me is that, also unlike Malibu Creek, here you’re allowed to bring your canine companion to enjoy the hike along with you. In fact, Las Virgenes allows for pedestrian hikers, equestrian riders, and even mountain bikers to explore the surrounding paths, and while I personally only went by foot, I want to return and try a different mode of transportation. And because it’s quieter, I witnessed a bounty of more wildlife on Las Virgenes than I ever have while wandering around the bordering Malibu beach and canyon trails.
Most memorably, my dog and I went up about a half-mile accompanied by a mother coyote and her two young pups watching us with caution and curiosity. Do keep in mind, though, to be careful when out and about as the trailhead does warn of snakes, ticks, and spiders (though I’ve never had encounters with any.)
Overall, the Las Virgenes View Trail is a low-effort but worthwhile hike that is just enough off the beaten path to quench the thirst of hikers looking for something new. Whether you’re experienced and need a break from Runyon Canyon, or you’re brand new and don’t want anything too daunting, Las Virgenes offers a change of pace and a refreshing hike ending in views of the West Coast that are unique and hard to beat.
And if you’re lucky, you might visit on a day where one of the local and delicious taco trucks is hanging out around the trailhead as a reward for your hard work.