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Sandstone Peak: Hiking to the Highest Point in the Santa Monica Mountains

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It's no Mount Whitney, but hiking to the top of Sandstone Peak is truly satisfying. Your journey to the top, elevation 3,111 feet, has sights and sounds different than the Santa Monica Mountains we know closer to Los Angeles. Forget the city noise below Runyon Canyon or the families splashing about at Malibu Creek--the trails of Circle X Ranch on the western part of the range are mostly quiet with lone birds heard echoing through the canyons and the sights of sheer cliffs dropping off into deep canyons is exhilarating.

There are a couple trails to the top of Sandstone Peak. On this particular journey shown in the photos, it was the less than two-hour three-mile roundtrip route. Albeit short, it is a bit strenuous. A longer six-mile roundtrip trail can also be done along the Mishe Mokwa Trail. There are other trails, too, such as the Grotto Trail, which is much cooler (once you're down in the "Grotto"), yet more rugged.

There are no obvious trailhead markings from the road, so check out this map where two parking lots (it's free) are located (elevation, 2030 ft.). The National Park Service also has various maps and more info on Circle X Ranch.