Sandstone Peak – Mishe Mokwa Trail Return

A year ago I began documenting my trips.  To celebrate I headed back to trail that inspired me to carry a camera, Sandstone Peak – Mishe Mokwa Loop.  I planned to change things up a bit with the highlight being a trek out to Balanced Rock on an unmaintained trail.  More on that later.  It was great to return to this area, my favorite in the Santa Monica Mountains.

1     2     5   Photo 1Sunrise, from the lower Sandstone Peak parking lot.  I headed up and began the loop in a clockwise direction, taking the Backbone Trail section first.

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8   Islands in the Sky


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From the Backbone Trail one can see Echo Cliffs and Balanced Rock in the distance.

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I reach the stairs that lead up to Sandstone Peak.  Photo 4On the way up to the peak there is an antenna. This shot shows Sandstone Peak in the middle of the picture.

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16   The plaque at the top of Sandstone Peak

21   I’ve carried these pictures with me for the last year.

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Four photos from the summit.

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25   Back on the main trail again.


26   There are two other side trails – this one leads up to two water towers and right next to Exchange Peak.

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30   Exchange Peak and the view to the south


Tri-Peaks, I believe.  There are caves to explore here.  I’ll get to it someday.

31     32     33   I had to backtrack to find the side trail to Inspiration Point.  The sign is very difficult to see if you are hiking in a clockwise direction.  Photos 2 and 3 show the plaques on top of Inspiration Point.

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Views from Inspiration Point

39     38     40     Photo 2 – Now back on the main trail, you can see the water towers in the middle of this photo, dwarfed by Exchange Peak.  Photo 3 – As the afternoon approached the shade on Mishe Mokwa Trail was very welcome, and the reason I chose to hike in the direction I did.

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Around the five mile mark is Split Rock with it’s flat shady area and single picnic table.  A good place to rest and have some lunch.

43   Here is the trail that leads out to Balanced Rock – overgrown and loaded with poison oak.  As I tried to make out the trail another hiker emerged to my right.  He had lost the trail twice, coming and going, and seemed quite relieved to see another person.  I chose to forgo this “trail” and come back a little better prepared – covered from head to toe and wielding a machete.

44   Manzanita Red


Here is a nice view of Echo Cliffs with Balanced Rock sitting above.  The next few shots are of Balanced Rock from various angles, some with the zoom lens. How can it just sit there?

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Balanced Rock from various angles, some on zoom.  How can it just stand there?

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End of the hike.  I hope to come back to this area every year.



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