Nicholas Pond Loop
ElevationAscent: 1,966' 599 m
Descent: -1,966' -599 m
High: 1,700' 518 m
Low: 21' 6 m
GradeAvg Grade: 11% (6°)
Max Grade: 33% (18°)
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“Run on this great loop to Nicholas Pond from the beach to experience the mountains high above Malibu.”— John McKinney
Right after turning onto the designated Nicholas Flat Trail you'll start to climb steeply above the park's campground. You'll then run some switchbacks until eventually reaching a ridgeline saddle, at which point the Willow Creek Trail re-converges with the Nicholas Flat Trail. At the saddle there is a brief offshoot of the trail that goes southward to a hilltop. Take this brief detour to catch some great coastal views before returning to the Nicholas Flat Trail.
The trail will then take you along the ridgeline as you gain even more elevation. The views will steadily become even better the further up the ridgeline you run. After being on trail for about 2.6 miles the path will level out on top of the ridgeline as you come to a juncture with the Ridgeline Trail. Avoid taking the Ridgeline Trail by staying to the right and run for another 4/10 of a mile before reaching a 4-way trail juncture. Head to the east here toward Nicholas Pond for 3/10 of a mile on one of the two trails that go that direction (one to the north and one to the south of the pond). The trail ends at the pond with a meadow alongside it.
Returning from Nicholas Pond, take the same route down that you did up. However, when you get to the juncture between the Nicholas Flat Trail and the Willow Creek Trail turn left to follow the Willow Creek Trail to mix up the scenery on your way down. Follow the Willow Creek Trail down the steep switchbacks and around the hill to the west before returning to the original trailhead at the parking area.
Thanks to John McKinney, The Trailmaster, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about trails in California, check out his guides at The Trailmaster Store.
If you're lucky you might catch a glimpse of a deer along the surrounding hillsides.
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Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, Runner Notes, History & Background
Land Manager: California State Parks - Leo Carrillo