Malibu is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Southern California. Lining up the shores of the Pacific Ocean with its colorful homes and canyons, the ‘Bu (as the locals call it), is gorgeous enough without having this delightful hiking opportunity.
The hike is about 3 miles, with like half a mile of walking through the breathtaking neighborhood before you get onto the trail. Be careful looking for parking on the street though, that Pacific Coast Highway (better known as PCH or ‘the 1’) can be a deathtrap.
I went on this hike with my friend Carmen, a girl who isn’t really the outdoorsy type (Sorry, Carmen), and we made it to the waterfall just fine. It is a mostly easy hike, not too much of an incline and I do not remember seeing cyclists, so there’s not really a chance you’ll become roadkill (well, unless you’re on PCH). There were plenty of dogs, and a few children. The hike to the beginning of the waterfall is doable for most anybody.
And then you get to the rock climbing part …
To go further up the canyon, to see the top of the waterfall, you’ll need to go up a steep stretch of about another mile. This part is definitely challenging. There are two ways to get there:
- By rope and rock climbing
- By steep hiking
The first one is the toughest because it’s literally a rope hanging and you pulling yourself up, climbing the rock trying not to lose your balance and scrape yourself. I consider myself pretty active, but I’m also very feminine and so thoughts like “am I going to chip my nail polish” come into play when I think about how “adventurous” I want to be. My enthusiastic, not-so-active friend though thought it’d be “fun” to do the rope, and so we did. And yes, my nail polish DID chip.
We needed some help, but it was doable. Though I didn’t go up through option 2, it looked arduous in its own rite. They too had a rope to guide them along , but it wasn’t suspended from the top, it was like a rail – very tightly secured. On either of these options, I didn’t see too many kids (but the dogs seemed to be surviving okay).
Carmen and I did not make it to the top of the waterfall, even though we might as well have after that rope climb. The truth is we made some buddies along the way and as we tend to do, chatted so much with everyone that we ran out of time. That’s the thing about this town that people complain about — we don’t get as much face-to-face time with each other in this commuter city, but when doing activities such as these, you get the opportunity to strike up a conversation, say hello, or plead for help as you foolishly thought you’d crawl up the mountainside like Spiderman.
If you go on this hike – take a hat, take some water, pee beforehand. DON’T get a manicure right before this, don’t wear shorts (many people chose to slide down the steep parts), and take a backpack to hold your stuff in since you may be climbing.
Escondido Falls – 27751 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA, US