Trek takes adventure seekers from canyon to coastline

Trail cuts through Cameron Nature Preserve



 

 

The Santa Monica Mountains boast more than 500 miles of hiking paths, and for adventurers who are up to the challenge, they can journey from canyon to coast on the Puerco Canyon Trail.

The 8-mile trek from Calabasas to Malibu offers panoramic views of mountains to the north and ocean to the south. It travels along a portion of the famous Backbone Trail— a 67- mile route along the spine of the Santa Monica range—known as the Mesa Peak Motorway before connecting to the Puerco Motorway to the south.

The journey takes hikers through the Cameron Nature Preserve, a 702-acre site named for director James Cameron, who sold the land to the Mountains

Conservation and Recreation Authority in 2014 for $12 million.

A portion of the preserve is home to a defunct pig farm after which the canyon was named (puerco means pig in Spanish). The farm supplied pork to Los Angeles for decades before being abandoned and falling into a state of disrepair.

VARIETY—It’s not all beauty on the Puerco Canyon Trail, which runs between Calabasas and Malibu. Above, the remains of a pre-1950s car sit near the entrance to the Cameron Nature Preserve. Photos by DAWN MEGLI-THUNA/Acorn Newspapers

VARIETY—It’s not all beauty on the Puerco Canyon Trail, which runs between Calabasas and Malibu. Above, the remains of a pre-1950s car sit near the entrance to the Cameron Nature Preserve. Photos by DAWN MEGLI-THUNA/Acorn Newspapers

Several warehouses still stand on the site. Constructed from corrugated aluminum, the buildings have decayed from years of exposure to the elements. A vintage car without tires or windows sits outside the warehouses, rusting in place. The walls and foundation of the laborers’ quarters remain intact nearby.

The excursion ends at Pacific Coast Highway near the parking lot for the Malibu Seafood Fresh Fish Market and Patio Cafe. The restaurant opens at 11, so if you time your hike accordingly, you can end your adventure with a quick bite to eat.

To find the trailhead, park at the lot for Tapia County Park, about three miles south of Malibu Creek State Park on the west side of Las Virgenes Road. There are a sign and restroom at the trailhead. From there, take the trail to the left and begin hiking uphill.

To avoid making the 8-mile return trip to the trailhead, hikers should make arrangements to leave a car at the hike’s endpoint before setting out or plan to call a ride-sharing service to make their way back.

PUERCO CANYON TRAIL

Distance: 8 miles
Difficulty: 4 out of 5
Total time: 4 hours