• Activities:

    Chillin, Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    2.6 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    500 Feet

Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area
Scenic
Swimming Hole

A pretty secluded spot about 6.5 miles in from the coast that offers a subterraneous cave, a splash of water and exploring tunnels. Perfect for any rock or boulder hopping enthusiast.

Who doesn't enjoy a hike that offers water, scenic views, boulder hopping and a subterranean cave? I know I do! The Grotto Trail begins at Circle X Ranch, which looks a bit like a small cowboy western store, and is approximately 6 miles from the Highway 1 (PCH). The parking is a tad tight, fitting about 8-12 vehicles, so try to start your hike earlier than later to avoid the crowds. To get to the Grotto, take the wide dirt road to the left, which will bring you around the Circle X building to the start of the trail.

On your way you'll pass a campground that accommodates up to 40-50 people. I believe the fee is $2 per person per night to camp there...reservations are required. As you bypass the campground you'll see the sign that reads Grotto Trailhead: Canyon View Trail .4 miles and The Grotto 1.3 miles. Continue on the trail for a quarter mile, while passing through an open area with great canyon views of the Santa Monica mountains and where the Grotto awaits your visit. Keep going until you arrive at a creek. From here, this is where the fun begins!

You'll then boulder and rock hop your way to the upper part of the Grotto. When you see a fissure (a large boulder jammed between a canyon slot) and a giant slab of rock that serves as the rooftop to the cave, you'll know you're close to the entrance to the upper Grotto (the cave). Cross over the top of the slab and look for an entrance to your left and make your way between the boulders to get into the cave. Once down there, go crazy exploring, taking pictures and cool down with a snack and beverage. Please remember to keep these places pristine and clean and pick up after yourselves.

To get to the lower Grotto, come out of the cave the way you came in and make your way to the right against the canyon walls. You'll then hike down a pretty steep hill that offers a substantial amount of tree branches and roots to use as leverage. As you make it down the canyon floor, turn to your left and you'll see the Lower Grotto. Once you're done soaking in this natural wonder, you'll then head back the way you came.

The Grotto has been around close to nine thousand years, and it's not going anywhere anytime soon, so make the hike and enjoy it for yourselves!

Pack List

  • Hiking boots
  • Sunglasses
  • Backpack
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Flashlight
  • Good vibes
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Derek Mathewson

...My name is Derek Mathewson, I'm originally from Oxnard California, and I'm a full-time traveler. I have a passion for landscape photography, hiking, camping, backpacking and finding adventures others are yet to seek!

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