Week 141: Solstice Canyon Malibu

August 05, 2018

L.A. Walks: Solstice Canyon hike in Malibu takes in Ruins of Old Estate, 3.7 miles

Scenic, exhilarating, and adventurous, today's hike through Solstice Canyon, one of L.A.'s most popular hiking spots, delivered everything Charles Fleming promised in his February 19, 2015 post in the L.A. Times...and more. Located above Malibu off PCH and Corral Canyon Road, Barbara and I parked in the lot and began our hike at a quaint stone staircase leading to the TRW Trail where we climbed along steep ridges with breathtaking views. Though we would meet several friendly hikers with kids and dogs along the path, a 1/4-mile in we stopped short—because what the hell do you do when a rattlesnake blocks your path? Barbara knew. You wait until Mr. Rattlesnake decides to slither away. So we waited. And it slithered away. Incredible views (loved the boulder giving us the thumbs up as we neared the top,) blue skies, clean coastal air, and utter peace balanced out a challenging rise to the Rising Sun Trail. Following the ridges and canyon walls, about 1.5 miles in the path took a rapid descent down stone steps and led us to our destination: the remains of the  Roberts Ranch tucked in the heart of the canyon. In the 1930s, Fred Roberts, a Santa Monica grocery chain entrepreneur, bought 556 acres in the mountains and in 1952 commissioned architect Paul Revere Williams to build a "Tropical Terrace House" of stone, brick, and wood. Williams, an architectural rock star in his time, was the first black member of the American Institute of Architects, and is known for his design of the LAX "Theme Building" along with homes for Sinatra, Lucy & Desi Arnaz, Lon Chaney, and more. Fred Roberts landscaped Williams' gorgeous structure with sycamores, sage, lavender, and banana trees, and brought in camels and giraffes to roam the property. Sadly, Fred died in 1976 (some say he haunts the property, though there was nothing creepy in the air,) and in 1982 the home was destroyed in the Dayton Canyon Fire. Barbara and I explored the foundation, imagining the rooms surrounding the brick fireplaces, steps, and patios, but the coolest feature was the waterfall on the side of the house. Part nature made, part man-reinforced, stone steps line the path of rocks with falling water and the sound of rushing water encircling the abandoned oasis. The hike back to the car along Tropical Terrace Trail was flatter and easier than the climb up, and we ended the day at the Malibu Starbucks on PCH. This hike was so much fun! Beautiful + challenging + interesting. 

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