On warm spring mornings, when the snowy blue ceonothus perfumes the air with honeysuckle, there’s no better place to be than this 6-mile loop trail that winds through a red-rock canyon dotted with climbers, into the oak oasis at Split Rock and up to Mt Allen (aka Sandstone Peak), the tallest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains.
The mountain is a spectacular perch overlooking the sea and the West San Fernando Valley, with golden eagles and red-tail hawks riding the thermals – this is what silence sounds like.
Take the Pacific Coastal Hwy past Trancas to Yerba Buena Rd (look for Neptune’s Net). Make a right on Yerba Buena and follow it to the ranger station at Circle X Ranch. Maps and trail conditions are available at the ranger station, but it’s usually only staffed on weekends. You can also download a map online. The trailhead is 1 mile past the station, on the left. Hike for 0.5 miles up the fire road (spoiler alert – this steep yet wide trail leads directly to the peak in 1.5 miles) before verging onto the Mishe Mokwa connector trail, a spur that will lead you to the gorgeous Mishe Mokwa trail. Picnic beneath the oaks then keep humping up to the peak – you won’t be able to miss it. After enjoying the view, don’t double back on Mishe Mokwa; keep hiking down the fire road all the way to the parking lot. It gets crowded on weekends.