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Are the Santa Monica Mountains Safe?

The Santa Monica Mountains offer beautiful views and hiking trails. But are they safe? This article looks at what lives in the coastal mountain range and whether you should venture out into the wild.

We also share some tips to stay safe while enjoying the great outdoors.

Keep reading to learn more about the Santa Monica Mountains and what they’re most known for. Here we go. 

Where Are the Santa Monica Mountains? 

The mountain range can be found in southern California. They run parallel to Santa Monica Bay and go inland approximately 40 miles. It also includes popular destinations like Malibu, Calif. You can access the mountains just north of Los Angeles.

In addition, the Santa Monica range has several state parks and trails. 

How High Are Santa Monica Mountains?

Elevations in these mountains range between 1,000 to 3,000 feet. Sandstone Peak is the highest at 3,111 feet. Hiking it is well worth the effort, as it provides views of the Pacific Ocean and the Chanel Islands. 

The elevation is high enough to cool you off during the California summer heat waves while still being close to the beach. You can spend your mornings in the mountains and afternoon at the beach. You get the best of both worlds. 

Man hiking through the Santa Monica Mountains at sunrise
Enjoy hiking along the 500 miles of trails scattered throughout the Santa Monica Mountains.

What Are the Santa Monica Mountains Known For?

The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area provides easy access to the outdoors and wildlife within a short distance from the metropolis of Los Angeles. You’ll find over 500 miles of trails throughout the range. While exploring the area, you’ll likely find Native American cultural centers and historical landmarks tied to old Hollywood movie ranches. 

Besides hiking, visitors also enjoy mountain biking, climbing, horseback riding, and camping. And the well-traveled Backbone Trail takes you on the ridgeline for 62 miles. It follows ridges, woodland, creeks, and valleys. You can hike the trail and camp on it. However, you need a permit for camping. 

Pro Tip: Looking to hike while in California? We compared The Best (And Worst) National Parks In California.

Are the Santa Monica Mountains Safe?

The mountains have a lot of wildlife. That, along with ridges and the heat, can make dangerous conditions for the people who explore the mountain range. So it’s imperative to be prepared, do your research, and obey all signs and rules when in the mountains. 

Tips for staying safe in the mountains include bringing a sufficient amount of water. Stay hydrated, and don’t underestimate the sun and heat, even on the fittest person. 

Also, always tell someone where you’ll go and when you’ll return. And always stay on marked trails. Wandering off can be dangerous. For example, if you get bitten by a snake or fall and hurt yourself, you may not see anyone else for weeks.

And cell service can be spotty in the mountains. But if something happens on a trail, you’ll likely get help within a short time. 

Misty morning over the Santa Monica Mountains.
California boasts many stunning hikes for big adventures.

How Many Mountain Lions Are in the Santa Monica Mountains? 

The National Park Service reports that they never know exactly how many mountain lions live in the region. They study approximately 12 at a time. However, since they’re territorial animals, it’s difficult to know fully. Based on the lions’ average range, they need up to 200 miles of land to find sufficient food and breeding partners. 

Scientists estimate that the Santa Monica Mountains can support 10 to 15 adult and subadult lions. But that number doesn’t include kittens born in the region. Officials know little about the average lifespan of a wild mountain lion. Typically 12 years old is a long life.

Are There Bears in the Santa Monica Mountains?

In 2016, someone spotted a black bear near Malibu in the Santa Monica Mountains. However, California has not had much bear population since the 1800s. Cattle ranchers hunted and rooted out the grizzly bears from the state because of the damage they caused to livestock. 

However, you can find black bears in the mountains bordering the north end of Los Angeles and in the Santa Susana and San Gabriel Mountains. But the National Park Service reports that it’s extremely rare to find a black bear south of the 101 Freeway.

Pro Tip: Going on a west coast road trip? Make sure to stop at these Best Things To Do on Route 66 in California.

Group of friends hiking through Santa Monica Mountains.
Keep an eye out for wildlife while hiking through the Santa Monica Mountains.

Does It Snow in the Santa Monica Mountains?

Seeing snow is very rare due to the lower elevation and higher climate. Occasionally, you might spot snow on the highest peaks, but it likely won’t stick around for very long.

However, it does snow in the neighboring San Gabriel Mountains which have elevations up to 10,064 feet. 

Is It Worth Hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains? 

Hiking the Santa Monica Mountains is worth it, as long as you prepare, stay on trails, and know what to do in an emergency. The mountain range is fun and offers great adventures for day hikers and visitors. We recommend hiking with another person to ensure your safety anywhere you go. 

If you hike the Santa Monica Mountains in California, we would love to hear about your experience. Drop us a line in the comments below, or tag us in your photos on social media.

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