Skip to main content
  1. Travel
  2. Local Getaways

Outdoor Day #43 - Nicholas Pond –Above it all.

See also

Nicholas Pond/Flats trail


Remote and wildly beautiful the Nicholas Flats/Pond trail takes you across the ridgeline overlooking the sequined Pacific far below. When I first discovered this trail there was a plaque posted at the entrance with a message from Helen Kellor entreating the hiker to engage all of their senses.” Imagine that this is the last day you will be able to gaze upon such vistas, to sniff pungent sage, to hear the clock-clock of the crow and to feel the teasing breeze off of the ocean.” It pleasured me to think that I would be the eyes and ears of the incredible Miss Kellor for the day.
You can take this trail all the way down to Leo Carillo Beach campground, but I prefer a more moderate loop that connects with the Malibu Springs trail. The first half mile is a wide easy march on a wheel chair assessable path beneath an oak forest. Turn right, cross over a seasonal creek, and walk through a sun-bathed meadow to tiny Nicholas Pond. A short side trek will take you to an overlook with a startling view of rugged Nicholas Canyon and the shimmering Pacific.
Return to the main trail and follow markers. At the first fork, angle left and go uphill to walk across the spine of the mountain, then bear to your right and enjoy stirring views of less- traveled back canyons. Carry on with a hard right that will take you on a baby-cake loop back to your car, or continue onto the Malibu Springs connector trail for about a 3-mile loop. It will deposit you back on Decker School Road and a short walk back to your car.
A nice way to end this day is to head back down Decker Canyon to PCH and stop at Leo Cabrillo Beach about 2.5 miles further up the coast. Enter the State Park, pay the fee, and continue on a paved road to a strand of sand with soft rolling surf safe for swimmers. Watch windsurfers ply the waters while marbled godwits poke the sand in search of tidbits and you enjoy a picnic lunch. If you didn’t to pack a lunch, you can fuel up at Neptune’s Net a little bit further up the coast before heading to the shore.
It is best to hike with a friend on this less-frequented trail. Sadly there are no wildflowers this year and the pond is dry due to the drought, but those who seek solitude will enjoy this respite from the bustle of the city.
Directions: Take Decker Canyon Road (Highway 23) off of Pacific Coast Highway about 25 miles north of Santa Monica to Decker School Road and park in the cu- de-sac at the end of the road.

More Photos