Solstice Canyon has a storied past that includes being the site of early research for space missions, homes featured in architectural magazines, and the location of what is believed to be the oldest stone building in Malibu, which today sits in ruins following the 2007 Corral Fire.
Now managed by the National Park Service, Solstice Canyon is one of several trails in the area that take hikers through the low dry brush of the Santa Monica Mountains to the scenic "Tropical Terrace," the site of a ranch house owned by the Roberts family. Only the sprawling cement floors, multiple chimneys, and stone foundations remain. Just beyond the house ruins is one of the only year-round waterfalls in the Santa Monica Mountains, which forms a pool that is deep enough to swim in following a rainy period.
The trail itself traces the route of the old road along the canyon bottom to the Roberts House, though the remaining paved portions of this road have fallen into disrepair, and sometimes only the worn roadbed exists. Though the trail is dry and can get hot during the warmer seasons, there are plenty of shady areas. Inclines vary from gentle to moderate, with a 330-foot elevation gain over the 1.6 miles to the waterfall.
Several trails intersect at different points with the Solstice Canyon Trail, the most popular being the Rising Sun Trail, which also leads to the Tropical Terrace and can be incorporated to form a loop hike if one is up for additional elevation gain. Most intersections are well-marked, but the simplest way to remain on the Solstice Trail is to stick to the more-traveled path.
Being near Los Angeles ensures that you will likely encounter crowds along your hike, though there seem to be enough areas near the ruins and waterfall to stake out your own private corner for a snack.
The main parking area has a pay phone booth and informational kiosk with maps of the area's trails. A bathroom with a water fountain sits about 1,000 yards down the trail. If the parking lot is full, more parking is available near the beginning of the road to the parking area.