Hike Number 12. March 29, 2015. Tuna Canyon.

Distance: 3.67 miles (Likely closer to 3.8 miles – we accidentally turned off tracking for a bit on MapMyHike)

Elevation Change: 728 feet

Temperature day of hike: 78 degrees

Directions: From PCH in Santa Monica, head north until you reach Big Rock Drive. Turn right onto Big Rock Drive, and follow it 1.7 miles to the top until it dead ends. There is limited parking at the top of the hill.

Abby: Sasha and I had a much more eventful weekend than usual, with a late night comedy show on Friday, and a full day of making pasta from scratch (and drinking a lot of wine) on Saturday. By the time Sunday rolled around, we were exhausted and a little cranky. I’m writing this as a caveat to what may be a slightly bitter review.

Around noon, we finally made our way to Starbucks before heading to Malibu. When we got to the mountain, we made our way up a super windy road overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was really beautiful but also quite sharp, so drive slowly. As we hit a curve nearing the top of the hill, we saw a creepy animal, which Sasha recognized as a coyote. I didn’t know I was afraid of coyotes until this point. So now, on top of being cranky, tired and maybe a touch hungover, I am also anxious and without cellphone service. Not my best combination.

When we got to the top, it was a total dead end, so we weren’t certain where to park. We noticed that there were a couple of cars on a pseudo sidewalk, and with a small car, we were able to squeeze in. Not sure if this is legal, but we figured a tow truck wasn’t going to make its way up that windy hill, so we risked it.

After a few minutes of complaining, we made our way to the gated entrance to the service road to begin our hike.

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Sasha: After we awkwardly climbed over the locked gate, we started on the paved road up to the top of the mountain. As Abby mentioned, we were both feeling under the weather, so neither of us was thrilled when we realized we had quite a climb ahead of us. Since we didn’t have cell service, we weren’t really sure what path to follow, so we headed straight up Big Rock Drive. If you’ve ever met either one of us, you’re probably aware that we can be quite verbose, so it was pretty telling that we said maybe 5 words to each other over that first 2/3 of a mile.

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Abby: When we finally made it to the end of that miserable hill, we were shown two options. One was to head down a hill (Big Rock Lateral), the other was to keep climbing up Big Rock Drive. We decided to keep climbing up, so that the end of our hike was downhill rather than uphill. As we trekked up, we noticed two different spots where someone had buried an animal and now I’ve not only seen a coyote, and climbed straight up a concrete hill, I’ve also seen memorials to dead animals on the side of a mountain. Sasha put it into perspective by saying this was reminiscent of “Pet Sematary.” I am officially no longer interested in this hike.

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Sasha: Once we saw that second shrine, I turned to Abby and said “Let’s just find a good point to turn around and end this thing.” We knew there was a meditation maze somewhere on the hike, and were hoping to get to it but weren’t sure how to find it. After a little more walking, I noticed a meditation maze to our right, through some heavy bushes. We continued on, hoping to find an easy path to the maze. We finally found a small opening in the brush and tried to head towards the maze, but quickly realized we had no idea where we were going and turned around, pushing past overgrown plants to make it back to the main trail.

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At that point, we decided we had spent more than enough time on the trail. We were pretty spooked after the animal shrines and the feeling of total isolation on the trail, so we picked up our pace on the way back to the car. As we reached a flat section bordered dry rocky ground and low plants, we heard the unmistakable sound of rattles surrounding us. I paused to listen, and Abby said “don’t even say anything,” so we booked it until we were clear of the sound.

Abby: When I learn that there are rattlesnakes in addition to all of the aforementioned, I just start laughing as this whole thing has become a big joke. We picked up the pace, and quickly made our way back down the hill. I’m fairly certain I’m going to fall down the concrete hill as icing on the cake, but somehow I don’t.

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Pro’s:

  • Great views
  • Wide trails
  • Easy to find your way back down

Con’s:

  • The concrete climb at the beginning is incredibly steep
  • There is no shade
  • All of the deadly animals and burial sites

Holy shit view factor: 7/10 If it would have been a clearer day, the views would have been significantly better, so there is potential.

How good your ass will look afterwards: 7/10 That first .6 miles will bring your ass up at least an inch.

Post hike grub spot: Since we were at the tip of Malibu, we drove back to San Vicente and stopped at À Vôtre Santé because Gwyneth Paltrow like their food. Their mimosas were only $4 and the food was delicious.

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