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Ruins of the estate built by Fred and Florence Roberts in 1952, burned by fire in 1982

Ruins of Fred & Florence Roberts’ Estate

JOURNAL : April 4, 2010

Hiking Solstice Canyon

Malibu > California > United States

Series Hiking Solstice Canyon

More of a pleasant walk than a hike, Solstice Canyon is a great place to escape from the city or the beach for a rustic stroll through the woods.

Jennifer on the Solstice Canyon Trail

Jen on the Trail

Just down the road from Malibu, the park hosts many great features like a refreshing stream, exotic wildlife, scenic ruins, and great views as you ascend.

The Solstice Canyon Creek and Roberts house ruins

Solstice Canyon Creek and Ruins

How to Get There

Cruising along the Coast Highway, the entrance to Solstice Canyon is across from Corral State Beach, less than 2 miles west of Pepperdine University, or perhaps 10 miles west of Santa Monica. Take Corral Canyon Road and at the first sharp curve turn left onto Solstice Canyon Road.

Check out the map at bottom for exactly where it's at.

Right away there's a small parking lot, or go up the drive a few hundred feet to the visitor's center and the more spacious second parking lot. In that area are some picnic spots, benches, restrooms and a small amphitheater. The Solstice Canyon Creek runs through the shady oak trees all the way up to the waterfall.

Solstice Canyon Stream near the Waterfall

Solstice Canyon Stream

Trail Conditions

The main trail is usually wide and exposed, but parallel trails often meander through the woods closer to the stream so that on hot days it is possible to stay cool most of the way. Again, it's an easy hike with some mild grades, suitable for seniors and kids as well as leashed dogs. Total round trip distance is about 4 miles.

Jen in front of the Hearth of the Roberts’ Estate

Jen in front of the Hearth

Ruined Buildings

One of the most intriguing features of Solstice Canyon are the burned-out buildings. About halfway up on the right is the Keller house, a stone building built in 1901 with a tin roof to withstand the regular fires that rage through the canyon. According to plaques at the scene, over time wooden porches and fixtures were added that made it vulnerable until it was gutted by the Corral Canyon Fire of 2007. At the top near the waterfall are the ruins of Fred and Florence Roberts's house, known as the Tropical Terrace. Designed in 1952 after acquiring Solstice Canyon via numerous parcels of land over as many years, the house was burned in a fire in 1982, and eventually the land became part of the public park.

View of the ruins of the house from the Solstice Canyon waterfall

View from the waterfall

Black-Hooded Parakeets in Solstice Canyon, Santa Monica Mountains

Black-Hooded Parakeets

Strolling through the ruins is a surreal experience. Several fireplaces, a bathtub and water features sit melancholy amongst the intricate foundations of what was probably a beautiful house in its heyday.

A shrine to the Virgin Mary in a grotto near the Solstice Canyon waterfall

Shrine Grotto

Shrine Grotto

At the very top and to the right of the ruins, the Rising Trail branches off and offers an alternate route down. Just before the trail begins, don't miss the decorated shrine complete with a statue of the Virgin Mary nestled in a grotto. Unfortunately the statue is partially decapitated, but it's still a neat memorial and adds character to the place.

Local Wildlife

We've been through on several occasions and have seen flocks of wild parakeets a couple of times. The birds in the photo are most likely black-hooded parakeets. The mountains surrounding Los Angeles are reported to have numerous feral parrots that have probably escaped from pet shops or careless owners, or were intentionally set free. Besides these noisy yet colorful birds the Santa Monica Mountains also teem with coyotes, raccoons, squirrels and the occasional mountain lion. As with any outdoor hike, exercise caution, watch out for poison oak, and have fun!

Map of Solstice Canyon

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