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.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