Past Meetup

Puerco Canyon/PCH To Big Mesa! (Conditioning Hike)

This Meetup is past

11 people went

Puerco Canyon Trailhead

3800 Puerco Canyon Road · Malibu, CA

How to find us

Driving my blue X5, 818.618.7897

Location image of event venue


The PCH to Big Mesa hike is a favorite, reviled and revered for its steep ascent and stunning descent back to the Pacific. With the longer days, plan is to hike to Big Mesa and back before it is too dark, making for a challenging out & back hike of up to 9 miles and 2000 feet of gain. After a quick stop at our turnaround point, we'll descend back to PCH and enjoy the Pacific sunset together.

We will start on Puerco Canyon Road until we reach the Zev Yaroslavsky Trail which is just short of a mile up the road. We will break left on that across the plain and then head right as we reach a point above Corral Canyon. We will continue that single track up until we reach the Puerco Motorway. There is side trail that takes us into Corral Canyon but we continue up the fire road on the Puerco Motorway. At around 4 miles but just short or that, we reach a fork and we keep left to go on the Mesa Peak Motorway and onto the Backbone Trail. We will continue down on the Backbone Trail and then head up to an overlook above Corral Canyon and stop.

Please note that the guest feature is not activated for this meetup. On all my hikes, I expect everyone coming to have signed up themselves, read the write-up, and arrive informed and prepared.

Hope to see you on the trails,

Our hike format emphasizes easy-to-access and scenic 5-8 mile Malibu-area conditioning routes with[masked] foot elevation gains, a relatively fast pace with a single rest stop, and optional technique discussions and conditioning exercises (based on individual and group interest). Total hiking time is normally 2.5-3 hours.

We schedule our hikes as late in the day as the season allows, minimizing hiking in the dark while encouraging people with a variety of schedules to get one or more conditioning hikes in during the week and tune-up for bigger adventures.

Here is info on our scheduled hike…hope to see you there!

We also need to thank James Cameron for keeping this hike on the books.

Puerco Canyon to Mesa Peak

Hike Type: Conditioning

Level: Intermediate

Route Type: Up & back

Distance: 9 miles

Elevation gain: 2000 feet

Terrain: Fire road

Dogs allowed: No

Route summary:

Our hike will take us 9 miles round trip up to one of the most beautiful sections of the 60-mile Backbone Trail, which runs through the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area from Will Rogers State Park in the east to Point Mugu in the west.

The route begins at the gate on Puerco Canyon Road, just off PCH, and proceeds northerly roughly 3.5 miles and 2000 feet up to a long ridgeline trail that leads to Mesa Peak, with spectacular Pacific views. The terrain is open fire road. Depending on the group and available time, we normally add an additional 2 miles of traverse and sight-seeing along the Backbone Trail after reaching Mesa Peak, which adds roughly 500 feet of elevation gain.

The route begins near the ocean but quickly gives way to open hillsides and ridgelines. Since we begin a short distance from the beach and reach exposed areas above the Pacific, weather can range from calm and humid to misty with ocean winds to quite warm and dry conditions. We will stop at Mesa Peak, or at the endpoint of our optional traverse, to grab a snack and enjoy the great view.

Special thanks to Mark L for showing me this hike and for most of the details.


Please wear – brush-resistant pants, one or more wicking shirts appropriate to the temperature, comfortable hiking shoes or light boots, your favorite undergarments and accessories, and a light backpack.

Please bring – at least two liters of water, snacks, an extra layer of clothing, a charged cell phone, identification, a headlamp, a small first-aid kit, bug repellant and sunscreen, a waterproof shell if rain is forecast, and any medications or anything else you might need on the trail.


There is free parking on Puerco Canyon Road.

Please do not leave anything of value in your car, at this or any other trailhead.


From the 101 - Exit Las Virgenes Road and head south toward the ocean. Go approximately 10 miles to PCH. Go right at PCH, drive 1.2 miles, and then turn right onto Puerco Canyon Road.

From PCH - Go to Puerco Canyon Road, which is located on PCH, 1.2 miles west of Malibu Canyon Road.



The hike host is a volunteer and not responsible for the group. Safety should be a priority for everyone in the group. If you become fatigued and unable to continue the hike, it is expected you will advise the hike host of this and return to our starting point on your own. If you are able to proceed, it is expected that you will maintain line of sight with other members of the group at all times and help to promote the group’s safety and fitness goals.

Outdoor sports and other events we plan can be inherently dangerous and accidents may happen. By participating in any posted event, you are taking responsibility for your own safety and well-being. The Malibu Hiking Meetup Group and its organizers are not trained leaders and we do not confirm the qualifications of any of its members to lead or participate in events. All participants take full responsibility for their own actions. Your personal safety depends on your own judgment and experience.

WAIVER OF LIABILITY: This group, its organizer, assistant organizers, event organizers will not be held responsible for any injuries or accidents that may occur carpooling to and from hikes, or for any injuries or accidents before, during, and after group hikes. If you sign up and come on this hike outing you are acknowledging that you freely and voluntarily assume all risks of injuries and damages and agree to participate in the hike/outing. No +1s or guests allowed at Malibu Hiking events. All attending must be group members.

All participants must be 18 or older, or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.