Hiking Project Logo

blue Nicholas Pond Loop

  4.1 ( 7 ) Favorite

Navigate on-trail with our free app

iOS App Store Android App Store

Trail

6.7 mile 10.7 kilometer loop
Singletrack
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 1,966' 599 m
Descent: -1,966' -599 m
High: 1,700' 518 m
Low: 21' 6 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 11% (6°)
Max Grade: 33% (18°)

Dogs

Unknown
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by John McKinney

Hike on this great loop to Nicholas Pond from the beach to experience the mountains high above Malibu.

John McKinney

Features Lake · Views · Wildflowers

Overview

At nearly 7 miles long, and with almost 2,000ft, of elevation gain the Nicholas Pond Loop will show you everything the Santa Monica Mountains have to offer above Malibu, such as great coastal views and blooming wildflowers.

Description

Start this hike from the trailhead located just past the Leo Carrillo State Park's entry point, across from the parking lot that is open to day use. The trail will start out along the marked Camp 13 Trail. Very quickly after joining the trail it diverges in two directions. The trail to the right is the Willow Creek Trail and the trail to the left is the Nicholas Flat Trail. Stay to the left on Nicholas Flat and head north while climbing up these coastal mountains.

Right after turning onto the designated Nicholas Flat Trail you'll start to climb steeply above the park's campground. You'll then hike some switchbacks until eventually reaching a ridgeline saddle, at which point the Willow Creek Trail re-converges with the Nicholas Flat Trail. At the saddle there is a brief offshoot of the trail that goes southward to a hilltop. Take this brief detour to catch some great coastal views before returning to the Nicholas Flat Trail.

The trail will then take you along the ridgeline as you gain even more elevation. The views will steadily become even better the further up the ridgeline you hike. After being on trail for about 2.6 miles the path will level out on top of the ridgeline as you come to a juncture with the Ridgeline Trail. Avoid taking the Ridgeline Trail by staying to the right and hike for another 4/10 of a mile before reaching a 4-way trail juncture. Head to the east here toward Nicholas Pond for 3/10 of a mile on one of the two trails that go that direction (one to the north and one to the south of the pond). The trail ends at the pond with a meadow alongside it.

Returning from Nicholas Pond, take the same route down that you did up. However, when you get to the juncture between the Nicholas Flat Trail and the Willow Creek Trail turn left to follow the Willow Creek Trail to mix up the scenery on your way down. Follow the Willow Creek Trail down the steep switchbacks and around the hill to the west before returning to the original trailhead at the parking area.

Thanks to John McKinney, The Trailmaster, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about trails in California, check out his guides at The Trailmaster Store.

Flora & Fauna

Look out for the following flowering plants along the trail, especially in the springtime: shooting star, hedge nettle, sugar bush, purple sage, chamise, burr clover, and many more.

If you're lucky you might catch a glimpse of a deer along the surrounding hillsides.

Contacts

Rate This Featured Hike

Rate Quality


   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Hike

Check In

Check-Ins

Jun 10, 2019
Breda Lund
6.5mi — 3h 00m
Oct 30, 2017
Zach S
Good trail, challenging at times. Not for a hot day, it was 80 and sunny, and we were bordering on uncomfortable due to lack of shade. 6.5/10 6.7mi
Oct 14, 2017
Matt C
7.1mi — 4h 30m

Stewarded By


Trail Ratings

  4.1 from 7 votes

#2361

Overall
  4.1 from 7 votes
5 Star
14%
4 Star
86%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Rankings

#370

in California

#2,361

Overall
62 Views Last Month
694 Since Jul 18, 2017
Intermediate Intermediate

0%
40%
40%
20%
0%
0%

0 Comments

Hiking Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Hiking