Solstice Canyon Falls

Santa Monica Mountains / Malibu, California, USA

About Solstice Canyon Falls


Hiking Distance: 2 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2001-12-16
Date last visited: 2014-04-13

Waterfall Latitude: 34.0506
Waterfall Longitude: -118.75524

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Solstice Canyon Falls (also called Roberts Ranch Falls) is a tiny 30ft waterfall in the coastal Santa Monica Mountains.

This was one of the easier waterfalls to visit as we pretty much hiked along a paved driveway for almost the entire length of the trail to this waterfall.

Solstice_Canyon_Falls_030_03142010 - Solstice Canyon Falls in early Spring flow
Solstice Canyon Falls in early Spring flow

In fact, this trail was so easy that we had enough confidence to bring our daughter here multiple times (once as early as three or four months old).

I think the most challenging thing about this excursion might be trying to find a parking spot, especially if you got a late start on the weekend (like we did on our last few visits).

Julie and I have done this hike multiple times, and it didn’t seem like the trail had changed much over those years.

The Solstice Canyon Stroll

We say this was one of the easier hikes even though it involved walking around 2 miles round-trip from the official trailhead (see directions below).

Solstice_Cyn_036_03272011 - The Solstice Canyon Falls walk was easy enough that we even tried bringing a baby stroller when our daughter was barely three months old
The Solstice Canyon Falls walk was easy enough that we even tried bringing a baby stroller when our daughter was barely three months old

That said, we’ve had occasions where we had to add an additional half-mile or so each way because we had to park in one of the overflow spaces or pullouts.

In any case, most of the walk was flat and on pavement, and I’d argue calling it a hike might be a stretch.

The hikes felt really more like a stroll, and that allowed us to pay attention to the surroundings, where we got a sense of the tug-of-war Mother Nature has with developers and homeowners.

There was evidence of fires that had run through this canyon in the past (not unsual in the Santa Monica Mountains).

Solstice_Canyon_Falls_006_03142010 - Looking up towards some expensive homes perched atop the ridges overlooking Solstice Canyon, which exhibited lots of signs of fires in its past
Looking up towards some expensive homes perched atop the ridges overlooking Solstice Canyon, which exhibited lots of signs of fires in its past

Yet at the same time, we witnessed expensive homes perched atop the ridges overlooking this canyon.

Sometimes we wondered if these homes were going to survive the next fire that would come through here.

And in between all that, we managed to see lots of blooming wildflowers on the canyon slopes as well as right besides the mostly paved trail.

At about the half-way point, there was Keller House, which was a hunting abode built of tin and stone (in an attempt to thwart destruction by fire) by Henry Keller.

Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_033_04132014 - This was the remnants of the Keller House at about the half-way point of the trail
This was the remnants of the Keller House at about the half-way point of the trail

Over the years, even this structure eventually succumbed to fire despite the more fireproof design, and only the supports stood now.

A bridge that went straight to the front of the house was closed, but the road/trail swung around a sturdy concrete bridge towards the backside of the house where we took a closer look.

Beyond the Henry Keller hunting house, the trail kind of split up beyond the bridge.

At first, we weren’t sure if we were going the right way, but we eventually figured out that these trails converged later on so as long as we kept heading in the same general direction upstream, we were fine.

Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_106_04132014 - Julie and Tahia crossing a creek where we chose not to take the driveway and went with the narrower path instead (where the trail had split) en route to Solstice Canyon Falls
Julie and Tahia crossing a creek where we chose not to take the driveway and went with the narrower path instead (where the trail had split) en route to Solstice Canyon Falls

The path nearest the stream actually crossed it twice in easy boulder hops.

However, the leftmost path climbed a bit before descending back to where the trails joined up once again.

The latter path was probably where the well-developed almost-concrete path persisted, but it undulated a bit more than the lower path, and I’d imagine it was noticeably longer as well.

Anyways, that undulating paved path was meant more for vehicles as opposed to foot traffic.

Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_092_04132014 - What's left of the Roberts Ranch home
What’s left of the Roberts Ranch home

At the end of the main trail, we saw what was left of the home of Fred Roberts who once made his fortune off the Roberts Public Market grocery chain (apparently it flourished before our time).

The home was designed by an African American architect Paul R. Williams who was directed to put all sorts of fireproof features into the design of the home since Roberts encountered many fires here.

But it was ultimately destroyed in 1982 after Roberts’ death when the property was no longer maintained.

Around Solstice Canyon Falls

Right behind the remnants of the home was the Solstice Canyon Falls.

Solstice_Canyon_Falls_020_03142010 - Context of the Solstice Canyon Falls as seen from around the Roberts Ranch area, including some intermediate cascades fronting the main drop
Context of the Solstice Canyon Falls as seen from around the Roberts Ranch area, including some intermediate cascades fronting the main drop

Given the proximity of the falls to the remnants of the home, it made us wonder whether this was like a private waterfall to the Roberts’.

The path did get a little rough around the falls so I’m sure you’d have to keep an eye out on the kids who may not be cognizant of the mild drop-off hazard here.

Even Julie and I were nervous about carrying our daughter right up to the falls when she was barely four months old.

On the opposite side of the stream, we noticed some primitive paths (which were just as rocky and rough) going by some chimney-looking remnant.

Solstice_Canyon_022_09032012 - Some kind of chimney-like structure opposite the Solstice Canyon Falls
Some kind of chimney-like structure opposite the Solstice Canyon Falls

This afforded us an unusual view of the falls and the usually busy viewing area down below.

We saw people continue higher up the trail, but we had never gone past the falls so we can’t say anything more about what would be up there.

Finally, something that surprised both Julie and I on a Labor Day visit here in 2012 (which was a very dry year) was that Solstice Canyon Falls was still flowing even this late into the Summer!

While the flow wasn’t impressive, it did have significant enough flow to be able to tell it was a waterfall.

Solstice_Canyon_034_09032012 - Contextual look back at the Solstice Canyon Falls and the people checking it out as seen from a higher vantage point in September 2012
Contextual look back at the Solstice Canyon Falls and the people checking it out as seen from a higher vantage point in September 2012

It also made us wonder whether this could be counted as another one of the few year year-round waterfalls in Southern California based on this observation!

That said, we also showed up in April 2014 when Solstice Canyon Falls had a similar trickle, which didn’t give us much hope that it’d flow into Summer.

Authorities

Solstice Canyon Falls resides in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area near Malibu in Los Angeles County, California. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about this area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_001_04132014 - On our April 2014 visit to Solstice Canyon Falls, we had to park pretty far back from the entrance before we could even get started. It just seemed like the parking situation continued to worsen year over year
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_004_04132014 - During our April 2014 visit, we parked further up the hill as the lower spots were all full. So we had to do a little road walking before we even got started
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_007_04132014 - Julie and Tahia continuing the road walk along Corral Canyon Road en route to the Solstice Canyon Park turnoff during our April 2014 visit to Solstice Canyon Falls
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_008_04132014 - Julie and Tahia descending the Corral Canyon Road as they approached the turnoff for the Solstice Canyon Park on our April 2014 visit to Solstice Canyon Falls
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_009_04132014 - Julie and Tahia making it to the actual trailhead for Solstice Canyon Falls on our April 2014 visit
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_018_04132014 - Julie and Tahia continuing on the stroll towards Solstice Canyon Falls in April 2014
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_021_04132014 - Continuing along the wide open driveway towards the Roberts Home as well as the Solstice Canyon Falls in April 2014
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_028_04132014 - Context of the driveway or road acting as a foot trail en route to Solstice Canyon Falls during our April 2014 visit to Solstice Canyon Falls
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_034_04132014 - They only started fencing the Keller House after the Corral Fire in 2007, which was further evidence of how often the Malibu area can see fires
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_039_04132014 - A close-up look at the Keller House about half-way along the Solstice Canyon Trail as seen in April 2014
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_047_04132014 - Julie and Tahia getting past this sign about the Tropical Terrace as we were approaching the Roberts Ranch Home during our April 2014 visit to Solstice Canyon Falls
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_048_04132014 - Looking towards the Roberts Ranch (or at least the ruins of it) during our April 2014 visit to Solstice Canyon Falls
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_050_04132014 - Another look towards the steps leading up to the so-called Tropical Terrace of the Roberts Ranch during our April 2014 visit to Solstice Canyon Falls
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_054_04132014 - Solstice Canyon Falls wasn't doing so well on our April 2014 visit even though we were in the middle Spring! That gives you an idea of how bad of a drought California was getting at the time
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_056_04132014 - Broad look at the struggling Solstice Canyon Falls as seen on April 2014
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_075_04132014 - Context of the Solstice Canyon Falls with lots of rock jumbles around it as seen in April 2014
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_096_04132014 - Looking up at some kind of pinnacle formation near the Roberts Ranch Home as we were leaving Solstice Canyon Falls in April 2014
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_097_04132014 - Julie and Tahia heading back from Solstice Canyon Falls after our visit in April 2014
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_103_04132014 - Context of Julie and Tahia heading back from Solstice Canyon Falls with cliff formations on the topleft as seen in April 2014
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_107_04132014 - Julie and Tahia going past some blackened trees along the trail from Solstice Canyon Falls during our April 2014 visit
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_111_04132014 - Julie and Tahia continuing back on the paved part of the walk on the return from Solstice Canyon Falls in April 2014
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_113_04132014 - Julie and Tahia continuing their return from Solstice Canyon Falls in April 2014
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_114_04132014 - Back on the Corral Canyon Road where I went to go get the car while Julie and Tahia waited by the overflow parking area during the end of our April 2014 visit to Solstice Canyon Falls
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_14_121_04132014 - When I got back to the parked car to end the Solstice Canyon visit in April 2014, this was the view of the Malibu coastline that I was treated to
Solstice_Canyon_001_09032012 - During our visit to Solstice Canyon Falls in September 2012, I had to carry Tahia pretty much the whole way so it was strenuous for me, but an easy ride for her
Solstice_Canyon_007_09032012 - Context of me carrying Tahia while walking the path to Solstice Canyon Falls in September 2012
Solstice_Canyon_012_09032012 - Some people chilling out around the Roberts Ranch area during our visit to Solstice Canyon Falls in September 2012
Solstice_Canyon_015_09032012 - The Solstice Canyon Falls was actually not in bad shape even on a Labor Day visit in September 2012
Solstice_Canyon_048_09032012 - Looking up at the Solstice Canyon Falls' main drop during our Labor Day visit in September 2012
Solstice_Cyn_004_03272011 - Finally at the parking lot for Solstice Canyon during our March 2011 visit to Solstice Canyon Falls
Solstice_Cyn_008_03272011 - Julie pushing Tahia around on the Solstice Canyon Falls walk in March 2011
Solstice_Cyn_011_03272011 - Julie continuing to push Tahia on the walk to Solstice Canyon Falls walk in March 2011
Solstice_Cyn_015_03272011 - Julie pushing Tahia on a slightly rougher path that seemed to have gotten some mud across its surface during our walk to Solstice Canyon Falls in March 2011
Solstice_Cyn_025_03272011 - Solstice Canyon Falls flowing well in March 2011
Solstice_Cyn_043_03272011 - I don't think our stroller was designed to handle this (but I'm not certain this was under normal conditions for it rained the day before). This photo was taken during our March 2011 visit to Solstice Canyon Falls
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_001_03142010 - On our March 2010 visit to Solstice Canyon Falls, we found parking from almost as far as PCH by the 76 station there
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_004_03142010 - Sign warning us that the parking lot for Solstice Canyon was full so we had to walk this quarter-mile stretch during our March 2010 visit
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_008_03142010 - Wildflowers blooming alongside the paved path in the Spring in March 2010 en route to Solstice Canyon Falls
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_010_03142010 - Julie on the Solstice Canyon Falls Trail amidst some fire-affected vegetation as seen in March 2010
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_012_03142010 - The Henry Keller hunting house, where the side bridge access was fenced off during our March 2010 visit to Solstice Canyon Falls
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_016_03142010 - The front of what's left of the Roberts Home during our Solstice Canyon Falls visit in March 2010
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_020_03142010 - A smaller 8ft waterfall fronting Solstice Canyon Falls in the distance
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_040_03142010 - A more set back look at Solstice Canyon Falls in decent flow in March 2010
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_045_03142010 - Looking back at what's left of the Roberts Home as we were headed back from Solstice Canyon Falls during our March 2010 visit
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_049_03142010 - Heading back to the Solstice Canyon Trailhead with some nice cliffside scenery under a pretty, clear day in March 2010
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_001_scanned_12162001 - This was what Solstice Canyon Falls looked like when we first saw it back in December 2001
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_002_scanned_12162001 - How Solstice Canyon Falls looked back in December 2001
Solstice_Canyon_Falls_003_scanned_12162001 - Another old school photo of the Solstice Canyon Falls as seen more directly in December 2001

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We accessed the Solstice Canyon Falls Trailhead by driving to Malibu along Hwy 1.

Then, we’d turn right at Corral Canyon Road (traffic light just north of Malibu Seafood).

Solstice_Canyon_Falls_003_03142010 - The turnoff going into Solstice Canyon Park. The immediate spaces shown here were actually spillover parking spots.  The white sign was actually telling drivers that the main lot was full
The turnoff going into Solstice Canyon Park. The immediate spaces shown here were actually spillover parking spots. The white sign was actually telling drivers that the main lot was full

Next, we’d follow Corral Canyon Road for about 0.2 miles before turning left at the signed turnoff for Solstice Canyon Park.

Depending on the parking situation, we can drive another quarter-mile or so to the parking lot at the end of the road.

Or, we could use one of the overflow parking spaces then walk to the official trailhead to begin the stroll.

In the worst case, we’d have to look for street parking outside the Solstice Canyon Park, which would obviously increase the overall hiking distance even more.

Solstice_Cyn_001_03272011 - The main parking lot at Solstice Canyon Park
The main parking lot at Solstice Canyon Park

Malibu is roughly 30 minutes west of Santa Monica (without traffic) or roughly 45 minutes drive west of downtown Los Angeles (again without traffic).

Direct bottom up sweep of Solstice Canyon Falls


Looking down from across the stream at the base of the falls on a busy and warm Labor Day

Tagged with: santa monica mountains, los angeles, malibu, california, southern california, waterfall, roberts ranch, corral canyon, pacific coast, point dume



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