The Rising Sun Trail is constantly compared with and listed beside Malibu's popular Solstice Canyon Trail, like the less-attractive sibling of a more well-known and loved figure. After spending some time in Solstice Canyon, it may become apparent why.
Solstice Canyon is a well-trafficked trail that climbs from a parking lot just inland from the Pacific Ocean up a shady canyon to a ranch house left in ruins following a 1982 wild fire and a waterfall, and it tends to see large crowds on its steadily climbing oak-canopied paths. The Rising Sun Trail, on the other hand, is reachable from the trailhead by a short climb on the TRW Trail, and it forks away from the trail immediately inside the gate and quickly begins climbing the shadeless south-facing slopes of the lower Santa Monica mountains. After an initial climb of over 500 feet, the trail eventually levels out to a saddle that offers views of the Pacific Ocean to the rear and a look down at the riparian ribbon at the bottom of Solstice Canyon.
A half-mile of jagged switchbacks leads from views overlooking several stone remains of past wildfires and down into the Tropical Terrace, the name of the area of the Robert's Ranch House, the largest set of ruins in the canyon. Just beyond the ruins is a waterfall and pool set into the canyon bottom at 1.9 miles from the trailhead.
To its benefit, the Rising Sun Trail sees far fewer hikers than the constant flow of people heading up and down the Solstice Canyon Trail, and it also gives some good terrain for trail runners. An ideal option may be to incorporate the Rising Sun Trail into a loop hike to the ruins and waterfall.
Maps are posted on the signboard in the parking area, and tables, water, vault toilets, and trash cans are available at the parking area. Dogs must be leashed throughout this trail and are not allowed beyond the Tropical Terrace.