Paseo Miramar might be the most iconic California trail. There are many stereotypes that the world has created about California – everyone surfs, we don’t understand the concept of seasons, and we all go hiking along beach bluffs each morning, to name a few. But the hike along the bluffs is something that Angelinos can actually do each morning. Rising up above Santa Monica and Malibu is the Santa Monica Mountains. This small mountain range is so well know because of its rich film history, largely due to the proximity to the city and variability of its terrain. There are a number of hikes that take you up and above the ocean and are easily accessed from Santa Monica. Paseo Miramar is perhaps the most scenic of these trails.
What Makes It Great
It is great because if you had to tell someone where you were hiking you could say ‘It is where Sunset Boulevard hits the ocean.” The imagery there is quite poignant, but it is also an accurate statement. From the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), turn onto Sunset Boulevard and take the second left onto Los Liones Drive. Conitinue on Los Liones for a half mile, then you should see the trailhead on the right. This route takes you up Los Liones Trail for 0.9 miles, then you hit Paseo Miramar and then Paseo Miramar is another 3.4 miles of meandering climbs with views of the ocean. The trail is mostly double-track or fire road and the last section leads to the Parker Mesa Overlook, which is without a doubt the best view of Santa Monica and the coastline.
The trail takes you up and over the famous Getty Villa, a museum and home that was designed by J. Paul Getty to resemble an extravagant Italian residence. If you haven’t been to the Getty Villa, it would be a nice complement to the hike – admission is free and the café is quite tasty.
Who is Going to Love It
The hike is a traditional out-and-back climb. There are plenty of options to extend the hike if you would like to explore the Topanga Canyon trails that are just above the Parker Mesa Overlook. If you like high tempo hikes in the morning or afternoon, then this might be a great spot for you. The terrain is predictable and the route not too long, so this can easily be worked into a routine if you live locally. This spot is a wonderful area to go and be introspective in nature. There is a lot to think about and more than enough beauty.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From the PCH, turn onto Sunset Boulevard and take the second left onto Los Liones Drive. Drive up Los Liones for 0.5 miles until you see a trailhead on the right and parking on the left. This is the Los Liones Trailehad – hike up Los Liones for 0.9 miles until you encounter Paseo Miramar. Go left on Paseo Miramar and stay it for 3.4 miles. After taking in the views at the overlook return the way you came.