Wait… Spelunking?! What’s a spelunk? Well my fellow travelers, it’s a name far too familiar for cave dwellers. It’s the exploration of natural caves! It’s not too often we get to experience something other than Southern California’s trickling waterfalls or sandy beaches. So we, The Wild Mile, unanimously decided to spelunk’! We did some research in hopes to find at least one decent cave to hike to. Long story short, we noticed there are three in the same region, in which we were comfortable travelling. And let’s be honest, road trips are always fun when you’re around good vibes. To start off, let’s familiarize ourselves with the general area. Surrounding the North-West side of Los Angeles County, you have the cities of West Hills, Tarzana & Malibu. Each city containing a few uncommon dry caves, all hidden, waiting to be explored.
Things to consider:
- All-day trip, we recommend starting your adventure in the morning.
- Plan & route your trip in advance.
- We recommend wearing durable hiking shoes; you will be climbing rocks.
- Bring a camel-back and a lot of snacks.
- Optional: Make some sandwiches for a nice picnic at a cave of your choice.
- Most importantly, find your Spirit of Adventure.
Things to note:
- It’s about a 2-Mile round-trip from the trailhead, through the cave, up to Castle Peak and back.
- Intermediate hike, not recommended for young children.
- Not dog-friendly; Climbing involved.
- Trailhead address: 24501 West Vanowen Street, West Hills, CA 91307
- Trailhead coordinates: 34.195322, -118.658543 (34° 11′ 43.15″N 118° 39′ 30.75″W)
The Caves of Munits, or The Shaman’s Cave, is an exciting adventure. This Southern California Cavern possesses a cathedral like ceiling with low-scaled rocks. The hike alone is roughly 0.6 miles from the trailhead to the mouth of the cave. Climbing through the Shaman’s Cave can get challenging. Once you’ve made your way to the top, the trail continues up the bend towards Castle Peak. Castle Peak rewards it’s travelers with a scenic view worth soaking in. Mind you, it will be hot during the summer season and there isn’t much shade. The trail alone is far from steep, but a gradual climb. We recommend wearing durable hiking shoes!
Things to note:
- Approximately a 0.5 Mile round-trip
- Novice hike, great for all ages
- Dog Friendly
- Trailhead address: 3630 Vanalden Avenue, Tarzana, CA 91356
- Trailhead coordinates: 34.134666, -118.563017 (34° 08′ 04.79″N 118° 33′ 46.86″W)
Hidden in Tarzana is the Vanalden Cave. The Vanalden Cave has a trailhead embedded in a cul-de-sac at the very end of Vanalden Ave. The trail alone is very easy. Expect a gradual, yet casual climb. When you reach the fork, you have a choice between the path on the left, or the path on the right. We mistakenly took the path on the right which led us further up the hill to a dirt road. (I’ve heard of a more advanced path which drops you off near the top of the caves. Unfortunately due to time, we skipped that.) After backtracking a quarter-mile, we came back to the fork to take the latter. (Take the path to the left.) The cave alone is unique in it’s own sense. Punctured with gaping holes in it’s ceiling, it provides a good amount of light to hang out in. Despite the graffiti and the trash left behind, it’s a nice hollow cave to find.
Things to note:
- Depending from where you park, distances vary.
- Climbing up and over rocks involved.
- Will get wet; bring extra clothes.
- Not recommended for young children.
- Venturing through the sea caves is not dog friendly.
- State-Park address: 35000 West Pacific Coast Highway, Leo Carrillo State Park, Malibu, CA 90265
- Sea-cave coordinates: 34°2′40″N 118°56′2″W
- Check out tide schedules here.
Going down the coast towards Mailbu is the state park of Leo Carrillo Beach. This was a tricky venture, considering most of the sea caves become present during the low-tide. Mind you, it was our intention to catch the sunset here as well. Start your trek on the beach. Head west, walking down towards the rocks. You’ll eventually find a cave-like opening after climbing over a group of boulders.
We won’t go into too much detail on how to find these Southern California caverns, since that’s an adventure within itself! This trip alone is 50-miles one way, starting in West Hills, so calculate your trip accordingly from where you’re departing. We’d recommend starting your day early, just so you can make the most of your Spelunking Adventure!
Photos shot with: go pro hero3
About the Author: Jared S.
An avid outdoorsman, always on the go. With a handful of hobbies, he collaborates them all through the wild. Follow me through my wildest miles.
In the spirit of full disclosure, we may be an affiliate for the products used. We only recommend and share the items that we truly use and believe in. With the commission that we receive, it helps us run our site and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to wildlife conservation groups.