Week 183: Zuma Beach, Point Dume

August 11, 2019

John McKinney's Walking Los Angeles, Zuma-Dume Trail, 3.85 miles

Inevitably, at some point in so many of our hikes Barbara and I see some impossibly high spot in the distance and say, "Bet we're going up there." And we do. And the journey up and the view from the top are always incredible. Point Dume, the promontory named by an English explorer in 1796, is a rocky triangle jutting into the Pacific at the western terminus of Santa Monica Bay. Once a sacred space for the native Chumash, this California Historical Landmark became an important indicator for navigators since the late 18th century, to serve as a warning to avoid nearby rocks. Today, it's a hiking destination, especially for whale watchers from mid-Dec through March, and straight-up rock climber's dream (there's a climber in the photo.) Barbara and I left the car at Westward Beach, the southern half of Zuma Beach with the craziest collection of private staircases leading from the $$$ bluff houses down to the beach. We hiked south to the trail leading up into the Point Dume Headlands, a well-marked path through sea figs, sage, and prickly pear cacti, with supportive metal ropes—helpful over rocky and sand-slippery points. Nearing the top, we sidetracked to an iffy, rocky path leading out to the western tip of Point Dume and its amazing, 180-degree view from Zuma to the north, the ocean to the west, and south over Pirate's Cove to Malibu, etc. A rest for pix, then back to the main trail, continuing south to the Dume Cove Beach observation platform where, below us, sea lions snoozed on black Zuma volcanic rocks. Point Dume is a marine-protected conservation area and nature preserve, and we had fun guessing the non-human footprints into the brush along the path, from birds to rabbits to worm trails to hoofs. We continued along the wooden trail to Dume Cove Beach but, unfortunately, the staircase down to the sand was closed. The dirt path ended at the trailhead at Cliffside Drive, where we turned around, and took the literal "high road" up into the preserve (and found the Historic Landmark plaque) then hooked up with the trail back to Westward Beach. A challenging, fun, and utterly GORGEOUS hike!

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