A Haven From City Life
Solstice Canyon—a place where nature greets you
with the sights and sounds of a babbling brook set amidst towering alder and
sycamore trees. Green leaves surround you like a giant cocoon, even in hot,
dry summers, filling you with a sense of peace and solitude.
The solitude, serenity, and abundant natural resources have attracted
people to Solstice Canyon for centuries. The Chumash historically used the
land for food, water and shelter. Ranchers grazed cattle in the area for
many years. Around 1865, Matthew Keller built a stone cottage, which is
still visible from Solstice Canyon Trail. The cottage is believed to be the
oldest existing stone building in Malibu.
Another home was built on the property in 1952. Renowned African-
American architect Paul Williams designed the house for property owners Fred
and Florence Roberts. The house was later featured in an issue of
Architectural Digest for its stunning blend of natural features within the
design, including waterfalls, creeks and trees. Today, you can see a small
part of the past in the horseshoes and colorful pieces of glass glittering
in the walkways at Tropical Terrace, near the building’s foundations.
Other evidence of human interaction with the land includes two tall, tan
buildings on the hillside, which stand as landmarks to another era. Space
Technology Laboratories, Inc., a subsidiary of Thompson-Ramo-Wooldridge
(TRW), rented 10 acres from the Roberts family from 1961-1973. TRW tested
satellite equipment for space missions, including the Pioneer series, and
conducted medical research in magnetic resonance imaging. Solstice Canyon
was chosen to conduct such tests, due to its convenient location, and its
lack of human-made and natural disturbances.
Today, Solstice Canyon still serves as a haven from city life. The Santa
Monica Mountains Conservancy first opened Solstice Canyon as a public park
in 1988. It is now managed by the National Park Service.
Visit Solstice Canyon, where the old meets the new. Help us preserve and
protect its serenity and beauty for all to enjoy.
Dry Canyon Trail 1.2 miles round trip, easy—
Don’t let the name fool you—this canyon isn’t always dry. Walk through
woodlands next to an intermittent stream. Look for signs of wildlife,
including deer, quail and bobcat. At the end of the trail, winter rains
bring a 150-foot waterfall to life.
TRW Loop Trail 1.5 miles round trip, easy—
Begin at the trailhead across from the bulletin board. Continue past the TRW
Buildings, through chaparral and an oak woodland. Cross Solstice Canyon
Trail by the bridge to connect with the southern portion of the loop. From
the picnic area, the trail follows the road back to the parking lot.
Solstice Canyon Trail 2.1 miles round trip, easy—Stroll
down Solstice Canyon Trail and look for the Keller House, believed to be the
oldest existing stone building in Malibu. On your way to Tropical Terrace,
see if you can spy the low concrete retaining walls of a former fish pond in
a grassy area overlooking the creek. Many other clues to the past remain
even though the Roberts’ Family home, once located at Tropical Terrace,
burned in 1982. Look for house foundations and a concrete bomb shelter. Walk
across the creek into a hidden sanctuary and garden. It’s hard to imagine
now, but at one time giraffes, camels, buffalo, African deer and exotic
birds roamed the canyon on the Roberts’ Ranch.
Rising Sun Trail 1.5 miles, moderate—This trail
is believed to be named after the Rising Sun Vineyard, a winery established
in the Los Angeles area by Matthew Keller. Consider hiking the trail as a
loop in conjunction with Solstice Canyon Trail for a variety of scenery from
canyon floor to ridgeline. Look for a postcard-perfect view of the ocean,
framed by the canyon walls at the TRW Buildings. Sostomo Trail/Deer Valley
Loop 3.9 miles, moderate to strenuous—Locate the trailhead off of
Solstice Canyon Trail, southwest of Tropical Terrace.
Hike through chaparral and coastal sage scrub to the west ridge of Solstice
Canyon, to see some of the best ocean views in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Look for “Deer Valley,” an area near an oak woodland and meadow known for
its abundance of wildlife.
Note: Bicyclists are limited to the paved areas only. Carpooling is
encouraged since parking is limited.
Information & Safety
- Be prepared: take water, food, flashlights and first-aid supplies when
hiking, biking or horse- back riding. Watch for and avoid rattlesnakes and
- Water from streams is not safe to drink due to possible contamination
or the presence of the giardia protozoan.
- Dogs must be on leash at all times. They are allowed only on trails
and access roads.
- Trail closures will be in effect during and follow- ing significant
rainfall to protect park resources. Trails will be re-opened when dry
enough to sus-tain public use.
- Fire is a constant danger. Fires and barbeques are prohibited. Smoking
is not permitted while traveling on trails.
- Natural and historic features are protected by law and may not be
- Bicyclists must ride courteously and yield to hikers and horseback
riders. Bicycles are allowed only on fire roads and designated trails.
Speed limit is 15 mph. Bicycles are required to have lights when riding at
- Hikers must yield to horseback riders.
- Firearms are not allowed in parklands.