Hiking the Santa Monica Mountains: The Peter Strauss Ranch

One of my most favorite things to do is to just jump in the car and drive… and keep driving until something in my soul tells me to take a left, then my fingertips tell me to veer right and somehow, we end up somewhere we’ve never been. Nine times out of ten it’s someplace magical and that is exactly how we happened upon the Peter Strauss Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains.

We were heading back down to LA after a weekend visit with my mom up north. We had no plans for the day and so I decided to take the Pacific Coast Highway up instead of jumping on the boring 101 freeway. Driving along, watching the waves crash along the shore, enjoying the brown pelicans zoom down the beach, an itch in my nose whispered, “take Kanan.”

Hiking Peter Strauss Ranch with a toddler

Kanan is one of those gorgeous canyon roads that begins at PCH and meanders through the Malibu hills and meadows. I kept my eyes open for a state park sign or a trail head marker, knowing this road had many to choose from and it wasn’t long before we spotted exactly what we were looking for: a new discovery! Peter Strauss Ranch!

Tree climbing at Peter Strauss Ranch with a toddler

This 64-acres of ancient live oaks and chaparral was once home to the Chumash Indians, later it was the perfect backdrop for pre-WW II dances under the light of the moon and rumor has it even some of Charles Manson’s gang hung out there! Now, as our luck would have it, Mother Nature has reclaimed it as her own and it is the perfect spot for an easy hike, a lazy picnic or a game of hid and seek!

Playing hide and seek at Peter Strauss Ranch with a toddler

Its parking lot is huge and its trails are on the short side and super easy, making it a perfect starting point for moms just getting back out there with their infants or toddlers clocking in their first tiny-footed trail miles. Nestled in the quiet Malibu hillside, this hidden gem of a park is rich in history and offers plenty to explore and discover!

4 thoughts on “Hiking the Santa Monica Mountains: The Peter Strauss Ranch

  1. Wonderful place for a hike! I wonder if I went there in the past when my brother lived in Malibu and we'd often go for hikes with my young nieces in the Malibu Hills. I still remember how beautiful they were.


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