Out-and-back trail, conveniently-bisected by Stunt Road, offering two options for turnarounds with shorter roundtrip mileage. Those who did the Backbone Trail with us through Hondo Canyon in early August will enjoy this, as it’s in the same general area and features similar geography, shade and another short section of the BB. We’ll see the Topanga Fire Lookout again in the distance at one point.
We begin with a bucolic (shaded and flat) walk along Cold Creek, complete with a few benches for stream-gazing (though not much water this time of year). Then we’ll turn and start climbing, passing a meadow and a side trail to the UCLA-owned Stunt Ranch eco-classroom, which was named for family that originally homesteaded the area in 1885. The structure on the reserve was destroyed in the 1993 Malibu-Topanga Fire, but a new facility is scheduled to open next year.
After passing a paved service road, we’ll continue climbing until we come to our first junction with Stunt Road. Anyone wishing to turn around here can do so for a three-mile roundtrip.
Those continuing will turn right and head uphill, then cross the road to pick up the continuation of the trail, a series of switchbacks that flatten out eventually. We’ll be able to see Calabasas Peak (2,163 ft) occasionally through breaks in the cover. After another 1.5 miles, we’ll come to a second junction with Stunt Road, marking the turnaround point for a six-mile roundtrip.
The third leg will take us across Stunt Road to join the Backbone Trail for another 1.1 miles, past some impressive sandstone formations (most likely sporting climbers), then it’s on to Saddle Peak (2,805 ft.), where we’ll take a break and take in the views before returning the way we came.
If you have the time afterward, you may want to visit the nearby King Gillette Ranch at 26800 West Mulholland Highway (at Las Virgenes Road) in Calabasas. This former home of the razor company founder is now the new Interagency Visitor Center for a number of state and local park and conservancy offices. There are also some short hiking trails at the Ranch. Parking is $7 but you can also park along Los Virgenes or Mulholland and walk into the property. Malibu Creek State Park (“M*A*S*H” filming site) is also around the corner, just south of Mulholland on Los Virgenes.
STATSLevel: ModerateGain: ~ 1,800 ftDistance: 8.2 miles (with options for turnarounds to make a 3- or 6-mile RT)Time: ~ 4+ hours to Saddle PeakType: Out and back, wide and single track dirt trailDogs: Permitted on leashWater: Not available at trailheadRestrooms: Porta-potty at trailheadParking: Free (but limited, since this lot also serves two other trailheads) in a small dirt lot at the trailhead.Bring: At least 2-3 liters of water, sunscreen, hat, snacks to share
DIRECTIONSAn approximate address for Google Maps is 1665 Stunt Road, Calabasas, CA 91302.
From the 101, exit south on Las Virgenes Road for 3.1 miles. Turn left on Mulholland and continue 4 miles to Stunt Roaad. Turn right on Stunt for about a mile to a dirt parking area on the right side of the street/west side of road. There’s a small sign that says “Stunt High Trail” at the lot (but it’s not visible from the road).
From PCH, take Malibu Canyon Road 4.6 miles to Piuma. Take a right on Piuma, go 0.8 miles and take a left on Cold Canyon. Go 2.1 miles on Cold Canyon, bear right onto Mulholland, go 0.8 miles and take a right onto Stunt Road and follow the directions above to the lot.
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