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Hiking to Malibu’s Grotto (not Hef’s)

Something about the word “grotto” makes me feel like it’s a secret place that no one else has discovered. When I told Bob that we were hiking to a grotto for his birthday, he asked if we were headed to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy grotto.
I guess the word means different things to different people.
Since we obviously weren’t headed to Hugh’s, Bob started guessing where this grotto might be, but it wasn’t long before he figured it out. See, I like to plan outings for his birthdays and for whatever reason, they tend to be different hikes around the Los Angeles area. This one was about a 45 minute drive north to Malibu. (Map here) I actually stumbled upon this hike after reading about several others that start from the same rangers station. Since it was pretty hot that particular day, we decided that a hike which ended with water would be pretty cool- literally.
The scenery changes quickly as you head down the mountain, with narrow trails covered by trees and branches, to open fields and back to shady tree covered larger walkways. Usually super brave, the first part of the trail kind of spooked me out a little. Before heading down, we noticed a few signs mentioning the local wildlife in the area. Mountain Lions, rattlesnakes, ticks, and poisonous lizards were just some of the scary names mentioned. I won’t go into too much detail, but I might have started whimpering like a small child. That is, until we passed several small children who weren’t scared at all and then I felt like I needed to suck it up!
Once you arrive above the grotto, there are some pretty moderate bouldering and climbing necessary to get inside. We watched as several people made the entire hike down just to be disappointed because they didn’t think they could do the climb. While I didn’t feel in danger at any point, the rocks were a tad slippery, so I was cautious while heading down. (Also- jean shorts= not the best climbing gear!)
Bob was pretty stoked to put his smelly shoes to the climbing test since he has used them in every other setting. (Great shoes, really smelly!)  Once again, they were awesome- so much better than my sneakers which couldn’t grip onto any of the rocks.
Getting into the final super secret section of the grotto meant squishing and crouching down, but was well worth it once you were inside. The cave was much cooler than the hot air outside and the water from the small waterfall provided the perfect nature accompaniment.
Brrr- the water was COLD- which felt so good! We were the only ones inside the grotto and it was pretty awesome. I felt like we were miles away from LA (which we were). The 3 mile hike was so worth it!
Inside the grotto, the water made this beautiful design on the rocks, which glistened from the sunlight above. The seclusion and silence were exactly what I imagined a grotto to be like- and thankfully without any playmates!
Good to know:
-Park at the Rangers Station and start from there.
-While the trail is dog friendly- the Grotto is not.
-The hike down is pretty easy going, but it’s straight up on the way back. Wear good, gripping shoes.
-Even though it’s shady- wear sunscreen. We could feel the sun throughout the entire walk.
-Bring your own water. The nearest store is back at the freeway- a good 20 minutes or so.
Want more info? Check out this awesome post or check out the reviews on Yelp!