Mulholland Trail – Etz Meloy Motorway

Finally back to hiking after the longest break I’ve taken in five years. It was certainly good to be back on the trail. I’ve hiked just about everywhere in the Santa Monica Mountains but not this short stretch. A closed, one mile section along Etz Meloy Motorway was the last piece needed to complete the grand 67-mile long Backbone Trail, and it can now be legally hiked in it’s entirety. You can read more here: Link
Even though I’ve hiked in the vicinity, I always find it fascinating (and sometimes a bit confusing) to get a slightly different visual perspective on things.
Distance: Approximately 8.5 miles

Directions to the Mulholland Trailhead: From Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, take Decker Canyon approx. 4.5 miles up into the hills. At the junction with Mulholland Hwy., go straight/right. The trailhead is on the left in approx 0.5 miles, just before Lucky Ranch. HOWEVER, there will be very little parking here. I found a spot alongside the road on the right, about a hundred yards past the trailhead.  It may be more wise to park down on Encinal Canyon Road.
Directions for the Encinal trailhead: There is a large lot here and a loop trail that travels up the mountain to Mulholland Hwy. and the trailhead where I started today. Should you choose to park off of Encinal Canyon Road, you will be adding approx. 2.6 miles to your total miles. But the loop is nice, profiled in this entry: Five Little Mulholland Hikes  From Pacific Coast Highway, exit on Encinal Canyon Road and drive 5 miles to a road split with Lechusa Rd. Turn right, staying on Encinal, and continue 1.1 miles to the posted trailhead on the left.

        I parking my car and hiked to the trailhead. Only after taking a few shots did I realize my camera was set on a strange special effect which makes photos look like paintings.

            I reach the trailhead for Mulholland Trail. Directly across the street is where Encinal Trail ends.  Photo 3 – Into the hills I head.

Most prominent were the mountains that sit near Kanan Dume Road. I believe that’s Buzzard’s Roost, highpoint along Zuma Ridge Trail, topped with a cluster of trees on the left.

              

Also to the east, the antennae which mark the inaccessible peak on Castro Crest.

And there are several striking rock formations in view as well. Could these be the rocks I see while driving near Rocky Oaks Park?

        The trail climbs on an easy to moderate grade. About a mile in, a light rain began to fall.

              

Photo 1 – Buzzard’s Roost again  Photo 2 – Despite the gray weather, many of the Channel Islands could be seen quite clearly, including little Santa Barbara Island shown here on extreme zoom.

        After 2.6 miles I reached Etz Meloy Motorway. To the right the trail ends in 0.1 miles. I went left toward Yerba Buena Road, 1.7 miles away according to this sign.

Catalina Island, seen through beams of sunlight.

              

AT&T Earth Station below to the southwest.

            My guidebook spoke of an overlook marked by a saddle between two small hills. There are actually two overlooks here, accessed by traveling around the backs of both hills.  I went to the right first, following a thin trail to the top.  Photo 3 – Looking west, Etz Meloy Mtwy. continues on for another mile or so.

              

              

   Looking down on Conejo Valley to the north, and then panning clockwise toward the ocean.

              

   A beautiful rock formation looked familiar.  Just below the rocks is a small body of water which, after looking at my map, I think is the tip of Lake Sherwood.  Photo 3 – On extreme zoom  – Mount Wilson and the other peaks in the front range of the San Gabriel Mountains.

        Looking down at the second overlook.  It has a concrete slab.

                  

I hiked over and down to the slab. I was sheltered from the wind for a bit due to the adjacent wall of dirt. If you stop here, beware of rusty nails.  Photos 2 and 3 – There’s a creepy ladder leading down into a dark, scary pit. I like to think of myself as adventurous but no way was I going down into that hole.  Photo 4 – Looking back at the first overlook.

              

I spotted the Santa Monica Mountains highest peak, Sandstone Peak, and all the amazing rocks which surround it.

Panoramic shot from the second overlook.

   Also, there are stunning views of more islands – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel, stacked one after the other. I don’t believe I’ve seen all four islands at once.  The close-up is on Anacapa Island.

        I continued west along the fire road.

Rock formations across the way looking like twisted, half-formed faces.

            With less than a half mile to Yerba Buena, a marked trail breaks off the fire road.

              

More rock creatures

        I reached my turnaround point, Yerba Buena Road.  The trail continues across the street and comes to the northern Mishe Mokwa trailhead in 4.8 miles. I covered much of this gorgeous terrain on one of my favorite hikes, Triunfo Pass.

        Heading back, the rain became steady and a bit heavier. Photo 2 – Wet Yerba Buena Road.

   I stopped at the second overlook to rest. I paused to remember my cat Reggie, who passed less than a week ago. He will truly be missed. His photo now joins those of my other cats, lost but never forgotten. I carry them on every hike so they may share my adventures, in spirit, I hope.

A steady rain fell until I reached my car.

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