Week 253: Charmlee Wilderness Park Malibu

November 28, 2021

 AllTrails Ocean Overlook Loop Trail, 3.2 miles.

Barbara's and my second attempt at this hike was the charm. Our first try in April 2021 was on a foggy day that did no justice to the magnificent ocean views from the top of this 532 acre park four miles north of PCH off Encinal Canyon Road. Another patch of Mother Nature at her best, and she did her best to preserve this park as a wilderness. The park's history began thousands of years ago as the home of the Chumash Indians. The Spanish uprooted the Chumash in 1769, and in 1802 awarded a Spanish soldier the 13,000+ acre Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit that included this grazing land for cattle. Like so much of the land claimed by Mexican Independence in 1821, when Mexico ceded California to the US in 1848 to end the Mexican–US War, promises to honor old Spanish land grants in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo had to be backed up with paperwork. The original owner's grandson-in-law filed a claim that was denied for lack of documentation. He sold his iffy interest in 1857 to the first of a series of owners. In the 1960s developers tried twice to build homes and golf courses on the former cattle ranch, and twice Mother Nature intervened—first with lack of water and access, then with the discovery of an ancient landslide on the property that could be triggered at any time. LA County made Charmlee (a portmanteau of the names of two former owners) a County Regional Park, then transferred the park to the city of Malibu in 2003 with a new name: Charmlee Wilderness Park. Charmlee has 8 miles of hiking trails through former grazing lands, a Black Forest, and hills stacked with boulders. We followed the AllTrails hike clockwise along six different trails, treating us to incredible views of the Pacific, Point Dume to the left along PCH, and the Channel Islands under an umbrella of clouds to our right. I took too many photos because every turn of the trail opened a awesome new view. We started from the parking lot to rocky Botany Trail, hooked up with East Meadow, Lower Loop, and West Meadow trails for jaw-dropping ocean views and glimpses of the entrances to El Matador, El Pescador, and La Piedra State Beaches below us off PCH. Then hiked back up the hills along Kobe Trail to Potrero Road. This hike is moderately challenging—there wasn't a hill we didn't climb, and we recommend taking this hike between late October and February to avoid the fog and shadeless heat. But do go. Charmlee is stunning!





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