Santa Monica Mountains


The Santa Monica Mountains is a mountain range that extends from the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles County to Point Mugu in Ventura County. Communities located on the slopes include Agoura Hills, Bel Air, Bell Canyon, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Calabasas, Encino, Hollywood Hills, Lake Sherwood, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Studio City, Thousand Oaks, Topanga, and Westlake Village. The Chalk Hills merge into the Santa Monica Mountains in Woodland Hills.

A substantial portion of the Santa Monica Mountains are located within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, National Park Service, and California State Parks are all involved in preservation of the area. Over twenty state and municipal parks are located within the Santa Monica Mountains including Griffith Park, King Gillette Ranch Park, Circle X Ranch, Leo Carrillo State Park and Beach, Malibu Creek State Park, Tapia Park, Paramount Ranch Park, Point Mugu State Park, Topanga State Park, and Will Rogers State Historic Park.  The Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space is also within the Santa Monica Mountains

Save Open Space is a non-profit organization, based in Agoura Hills, dedicated to maintaining, protecting and preserving open space in the Santa Monica Mountains.

The fifty-five mile Mulholland Scenic Parkway and Corridor winds through the Santa Monica Mountains and is one of the most famous thoroughfares in the country.

The Backbone Trail is a trail extending nearly 70 miles over the Santa Monica Mountains from Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades to Point Mugu State Park north of Malibu. Saddle Peak Mountain, located in the central part of the Santa Monica Mountains, can be accessed from the Backbone Trail.


Wildlife - Santa Monica Mountains

The Santa Monica Mountains are rich in wildlife. The most common medium sized and larger mammals include mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, skunks, and raccoons. Mountain lions, grey fox, long-tailed weasels, and ring-tailed cats are also present, but are rarely seen. Seven species of hawks, eight species of owls, golden eagles, northern harriers, peregrine falcons, American kestrels, and white-tailed kite, are commonly observed, as are rabbits and squirrels. The 18 species of snakes include gopher snakes, pacific rattlesnakes, California Kings, and striped racers. Only the rattlesnakes are venomous. Black Bears are found in the nearby Santa Susana Mountains and San Gabriel Mountains.


Malibu Creek Watershed

The Malibu Creek Watershed is located in the northwest section of Los Angeles County. It is bounded on the north, west, and east by the Santa Monica Mountains and on the south by the Pacific Ocean. The watershed area is approximately 109 square miles. Its major tributaries are Las Virgenes Creek, Triunfo Creek, and Cold Creek. The watershed is comprised of all or parts of Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Malibu, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, and unincorporated areas in Los Angeles County, and Ventura County.


Southern California Watersheds

A watershed is an area of land that collects water whenever it rains or snows and from irrigation. Through gravity, water channeled into soils, groundwater, creeks, and lakes, drain into larger bodies of water and eventually to the ocean. Due to the large volume of storm water, it cannot be treated before it reaches the ocean. Since we all live in a watershed, we can all help in keeping our area free of harmful chemicals and other waste.


Brents Mountain

Brents Mountain is a 1,713 foot peak in the Santa Monica Mountains located east of Malibu Creek State Park and west of Tapia Park. It is easily recognized because a large white cross is located on the summit. Reaching the summit is difficult because there is no established trail. However, the views from the summit are panoramic and include the Pacific Ocean.


Salvation Army Camp Mt. Crags and Camp Gilmore

The Salvation Army operates a youth camp for children ages 7 to 16 in the Santa Monica Mountains, south and east of Malibu Creek State Park and west of Tapia Park. Brents Mountain is immediately to the west of the camp. The purpose of the camp is to serve children from low-income families and to meet their physical, social, and spiritual needs.


Castro Peak

Castro Peak is the highest mountain peak in the central Santa Monica Mountains reaching 2,826 feet. The mountain is located within the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, south of Seminole Hot Springs, and north of Malibu. It be can be accessed from the Backbone Trail. Castro Peak offers great views of the surrounding mountains.


Camp Bloomfield

Camp Bloomfield is a 40 acre, non-profit campground in the Santa Monica Mountains near Malibu. It was founded by Henry Bloomfield and the Junior Blind of America. It runs several sessions each summer for children who are either blind or severely visually impaired. It also runs sessions for children without visual disabilities and is utilized regularly by local schools. Activities include hiking, swimming, fishing, horseback riding, camping, and more.


Rocky Oaks

Rocky Oaks Park

Rocky Oaks Park is a 200 acre undeveloped open space that serves as a wildlife refuge in the Santa Monica Mountains. Its large pond provides water to a diversity of wildlife and was an important resource for the Chumash People who lived in the area for thousands of years. Access is located on the north side of Mulholland Highway, west of Kanan Road, just south of Agoura Hills and north of Malibu. The park was once a cattle ranch.


Zuma and Trancas Canyons

Zuma Canyon and Trancas Canyon are neighboring canyons in the western Santa Monica Mountains that support an abundance of plant and animal wildlife including deer, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, rabbits, and more. There are hiking trails, perennial streams, dense plant growth, sandstone boulders, deep scenic gorges, and incredible views. The canyons were home to the Chumash People for more than eight thousand years.


Zuma Canyon

Zuma Canyon Trail

Zuma Canyon Trail, one of the most popular trails in Malibu, is a 2.8 mile hiking trail in the Santa Monica Mountains that explores the Zuma Canyon. Both the Ocean View Trail and Canyon View Trail can be accessed from the Zuma Canyon Trail. The Zuma Canyon trailhead is at 5875 Bonsall Drive in Malibu. The hiking trails offer great views of Santa Monica Bay, Malibu, and the Santa Monica Mountains.


Mishe Mokwa Trailhead

The Mishe Mokwa Trailhead is located at 12896 Yerba Buena Road north of the Circle X Ranch near Sandstone Peak in the Santa Monica Mountains of Ventura County. You can take the trail to Sandstone Peak, the Backbone Trail, and Balanced Rock. The 5.9 mile Mishe Mokwa Trail is only open to hikers. Conejo Peak is to the north and Malibu is to the south. The views from the trail are excellent and wildflowers are absolutely beautiful.


Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock is a 40 foot high bowling-pin like rock perched high in the Santa Monica Mountains that is visible from the Mishe Mokwa Trail. It is absolutely stunning making it a popular hiking destination and photo opportunity. You must see it to believe it.


Big Sycamore Canyon

Big Sycamore Canyon Trail

The Big Sycamore Canyon Trail is an 8.4 mile one-way mountains to the ocean trail through the Point Mugu State Park and Santa Monica Mountains through a deep, wooded canyon, with many trees. It is considered a difficult trail by many experienced hikers. The trail starts in the Newbury Park community of Ventura County and ends at Sycamore Cove Beach in Ventura County which is the location of the Sycamore State Canyon Campground. The trail joins the Backbone Trail at one point and later separates from it. The area is especially beautiful after the winter and early spring rains.


Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park

The Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park is a 1,500 acre wilderness area located in the eastern Santa Monica Mountains within the city of Los Angeles. It is bordered by San Vicente Mountain Park, Mandeville Canyon, Sullivan Canyon, and Mission Canyon.


Tuna Canyon Park

Tuna Canyon Park is a 1,255 acre park and nature preserve in the western Santa Monica Mountains approximately two miles north of Malibu. The views from Tuna Canyon Park are fantastic and include the Santa Monica Bay east to the San Gabriel Mountains. Tuna Canyon Park links more than 18,000 acres of continuous, protected open space from Topanga State Park west to Las Flores Canyon. For access take Pacific Coast Highway, turn north on Topanga Canyon and then left on Fernwood Pacific Drive.


San Vicente Mountain

San Vicente Mountain Park

San Vicente Mountain Park is a 10.2 acre open space park located in the Santa Monica Mountains, south of Mulholland Drive, south of Encino, and west of the 405 freeway. The park offers spectacular 360 degree views of the Santa Monica Mountains, Encino Reservoir, San Fernando Valley, and most of the Los Angeles Basin. San Vicente Mountain is a favorite location for viewing sunsets and offers a large network of trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians.

In addition to being a beautiful place to visit, the park is also a part of U.S. military history as it was once one of sixteen Nike-Ajax anti-aircraft missile launch sites that protected Los Angeles from 1956 to 1968. Today there are displays that provide a self-guided tour of the former military base.

The Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park and Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park are accessible directly from San Vicente Mountain Park.


Benedict Canyon

Benedict Canyon Drive

Benedict Canyon is a ravine and street in the Santa Monica Mountains that connects Sherman Oaks in the San Fernando Valley to Beverly Hills. Some of the most expensive homes in the Los Angeles Basin can be found in Benedict Canyon from its high point at Mulholland Drive, south to Beverly Hills where it meets Sunset Boulevard at the site of the famous Beverly Hills Hotel. Benedict Canyon Drive splits into N. Rodeo Drive and N. Cannon Drive south of Sunset Boulevard.


Santa Monica Mountains

Natural History Association

The Santa Monica Mountains Natural History Association funds and supports educational programs at Leo Carrillo State Park, Point Mugu State Park, and Point Dume State Preserve. The Association accomplishes its goals through the work of dedicated volunteers and members. Funds are raised from generous business and individual donors, and from grants and foundations.


Resource Conservation District of the
Santa Monica Mountains

The Resource District of the Santa Monica Mountains is governed by a board of directors appointed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. The District is financed through property taxes. The District is involved primarily in education, consulting, and conservation.


Santa Monica Mountains Fund

The Santa Monica Mountains Fund is a local non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the National Park Service and the California State Parks in their role of protecting the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.


Allied Arts of the Santa Monica Mountains

The Allied Artists of the Santa Monica Mountains and Seashore is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote the appreciation of our environment through art and to support conservation and maintenance of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Artists are invited to participate in local art shows and sell their work with 20% or more of the proceeds being donated to various organizations in the Santa Monica National Recreation Area. Memberships are available and donations are greatly appreciated.


Piuma Overlook

Piuma Overlook is a local overlook in the Santa Monica Mountains, on Piuma Road east of Malibu Canyon Road and Malibu Creek State Park. Piuma Overlook provides spectacular views of the San Fernando Valley, Malibu Creek State Park, Santa Monica Mountains, Las Virgenes Valley, Pacific Ocean, and Catalina Island.


Hollywood Hills

The Hollywood Hills are part of the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains and the name of an affluent, low density neighborhood in Los Angeles. Studio City and Burbank are to the north, Griffith Park is to the north and east, and Hollywood is to the south. Within the Hollywood Hills are the communities of Beachwood Canyon, Cahuenga Pass, Franklin Village, Hollywood Heights, Hollywoodland, Outpost, and Whitley Heights.


Fritz and Alma Meier Nature Preserve

The 120 acre Fritz and Alma Meier Nature Preserve is immediately north of Red Rock Canyon Park in the Old Topanga Watershed area of the Santa Monica Mountains. The preserve includes large colored sandstone formations, lush vegetation, a year-round source of water, and lots of wildlife. A hiking trail runs through the nature preserve. Access is at the end of Zuniga Road in Topanga. The property was made available to the public through a generous gift from Fritz and Alma Meier.


Trebek Open Space

Trebek Open Space is a 62 acre open space in the Hollywood Hills adjacent to Runyon Canyon Park. It is north of Hollywood Boulevard near the north end of Nichols Canyon Road. The open space provides trails for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians.


La Sierra Canyon

La Sierra Canyon is a valley located in the Santa Monica Mountains near Seminole Springs Mobile Home Park and Seminole Hot Springs. The valley is a habitat for bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, mountain lions, and other wildlife.


Calamigos Ranch

Calamigos Ranch is a beautiful 130 acre privately owned ranch, that includes a lake and waterfall. It is located in the Santa Monica Mountains. The ranch has been available for private use since 1947 for weddings, banquets, conferences, company picnics, and other events. Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, and Rocky Oaks Park are to the north, Malibu and the Pacific Ocean are directly south. Malibu Creek State Park is to the east.


Malibu Springs

Malibu Springs is a scenic area along the Backbone Trail in the central Santa Monica Mountains, north of Malibu and Leo Carrillo State Park. It is located on the boundary between Ventura County and Los Angeles County. The Circle X Ranch is to the northwest.



Santa Monica Mountains Area Communities

Communities along the north slope of the mountains include (from east to west):

Studio City Calabasas
Sherman Oaks Bell Canyon
Encino Agoura Hills
Tarzana Agoura
Woodland Hills Westlake Village
West Hills Thousand Oaks

Communities along the south slope of the mountains include (from east to west):

Los Feliz Pacific Palisades
Hollywood Hills Beverly Hills
Bel-Air Topanga
Benedict Canyon Malibu


Santa Monica Mountains Land

If you would like to sell or acquire land in Santa Monica Mountains or in the surrounding areas, please contact an agent in our land division. We have land specialists that can help you buy or sell land anywhere in California.


Peaks in the Santa Monica Mountains

Sandstone Peak - 3,111 ft
Also known as Mt. Allen
Mesa Peak - 1,844 ft
Tri-Peaks - 3,010 ft Cahuenga Peak - 1,820 ft
Exchange Peak - 2,950 ft Brents Mountain - 1,713 ft
Boney Peak - 2,825 ft Mt. Lee - 1,640 ft
The Hollywood sign is on the southern slope
Castro Peak - 2,824 ft
Highest peak in the eastern end of the range
Mt. Hollywood - 1,625 ft
Saddle Peak - 2,805 ft Mount Chapel - 1,622 ft
Calabasas Peak - 2,165 ft Mount Bell - 1,587 ft
Temescal Peak - 2,126 ft La Jolla Peak - 1,567 ft
San Vicente Mountain -
1,965 ft
Former Nike missile base
Laguna Peak - 1,457 ft
Clarks Peak - 1,965 ft    


Ring of Open Space

There are approximately 15,163 acres of open space within the City of Thousand Oaks’ Planning Area, representing more than one-third of the land within the Planning Area. Following is a summary of the current open space in the Thousand Oaks’ Planning Area, all of which is under public ownership. Public agencies which own open space in Thousand Oaks’ Planning Area include COSCA, the City of Thousand Oaks, the Conejo Recreation and Park District, the National Park Service, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, and the County of Ventura. COSCA manages the majority of the open space set forth below:


Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit

Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit was the 13,316-acre Spanish land grant given in 1804 to present day Los Angeles County that included Malibu, parts of Topanga, and a portion of the Santa Monica Mountains. Adamson House, built in 1929, is a historic site in Malibu.


Santa Monica Mountains Horse Property

If you want to buy or sell equestrian zoned property in or near Santa Monica Mountains, please contact us. We have several real estate agents with extensive experience representing buyers and sellers of horse properties.


Placerita Canyon State Park

Placerita Canyon Nature Center

Placerita Canyon State Park, in Los Angeles County, was created to preserve and protect the site of the first discovery of gold in California in 1842. Its location links the Angeles National Forest, the Santa Susana Mountains, the Simi Hills, and the Santa Monica Mountains. The 342 acre state park features a nature center with gardens, extensive hiking trails, picnic areas, a waterfall, and various educational programs. The park contains the “Oak of the Golden Dream” site of the first discovery of gold in California and the historic Walker Cabin built in 1920. The Placerita Canyon Nature Center is located at 19152 Placerita Canyon Road in Newhall. Placerita Canyon was home to the Tataviam People, also known as the Tataviam Indians for thousands of years before the area was claimed by Spain and later by Mexico. Wildlife includes coyotes, bobcats, black bears, mountain lions, deer, rabbits, fox, badgers, and skunks.



Thousand Oaks Planning Area Open Space

Open Space Area Acres
Alta Vista Open Space 43
Arroyo Conejo Open Space 302 
Conejo Canyons Open Space 1,628
Conejo Ridge Open Space 404
Deer Ridge Open Space 188
Dos Vientos Open Space 1,216
Fireworks Hill Open Space 33
Glider Hill Open Space 57
Hope Nature Preserve 359
Knoll Open Space 21
Labisco Hill Open Space 24
La Jolla Open Space 15
Lake Eleanor Open Space 513
Lang Ranch Open Space 901
Los Padres Open Space 187
Los Robles Open Space 331
Los Vientos Open Space 28
Lynnmere Open Space 114
McCrea Open Space 148
Mount Clef Ridge Open Space 212
North Ranch Open Space 2,614
Oakbrook Regional Park 436
Old Conejo Open Space 38
Old Meadows Open Space 49
Potrero Open Space 203
Rancho Portero 316
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area 928
Skyline Open Space 59
South Ranch Open Space 662
Southshore Hills Open Space 13
Summit House Open Space 34
Sunset Hills Open Space 410
Tarantula Hill Open Space 45
Ventu Park Open Space 141
Walnut Open Space
Wildwood Park 1,732
Woodridge Open Space 608

Zuniga Ridge Open Space





Many of the communities located within the Santa Monica Mountains are members of The Federation of Hillside and Canyon Associations.


The Santa Monica Mountains were home to the Chumash People for thousands of years before the area was claimed by Spain and later by Mexico.








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