Distance: 5.7 miles round trip on trail and use trail
Summit Elevation: 2049'
Elevation Gain: 1540'
Elevation Gain (in Empire State Buildings): 1.23
Round trip time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Recommended water: 54 oz.
Parking/Fees: $10 State Parks on Malibu Canyon Road
McAuley Peak was the start of a Lower Peak triple play to finish off the Santa Monica Mountains. I drove north from PCH on Malibu Canyon Road to the the trailhead and paid the expensive $10 State Park self-serve permit fee. There is a portable restroom at the trailhead. I arrived about an hour before sunrise and the coyotes serenading me in the dark made the first part of the hike more exciting. When I left home, the blood moon was just waning and as I started up the trail, the moon had returned to a bright white.
As I got near the top of the ridge, the sun met me, and I could see the huge sandstone summit block. The use trail was short and I found the register under the summit overhang and leafed through it before signing it, not recognizing recent visitors. The summit block is class 3, but climbing it required only one smear move. The rest of the way offered excellent holds and reasonable angles. I took some pictures from the top, then headed down. When I was near the bottom, I met a fine looking buck on the trail. He ducked into the brush and I only got a shot of his rear. Back at the car, I reloaded my pack and took Piuma Road toward Saddle Peak East.
Starting in the dark
Pre-dawn over the ocean
Use trail to McAuley Peak and the sandstone summit block
Looking down on the use trail from the top of the summit block
Sun burning the mountains and ocean
Dramatic geology on the way down
Hind quarters of a buck I met on the way down
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