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About the Nature Trust of the Santa Monica Mountains

The Nature Trust property is located at 33905 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, across from the Pacific Ocean. It was developed in 1973 as the Malibu Riding and Tennis Club and Guest Ranch.

In conjunction with the Nature Trust's stewardship of the Riding and Tennis Club and its unique location in the Santa Monica Mountains (largely surrounded by County and State Parks abutting the Pacific Coast Highway and ocean), it offers unique outdoor experiences and outdoor-related programs. The pristine public beaches regularly receive an "A" in water quality from Heal the Bay.

The still largely natural Nicholas Canyon watershed comprises approximately 875 acres extending from its headwaters at Nicholas Flat Natural Area within Leo Carrillo State Park to its confluence at the Pacific Ocean within Nicholas Canyon County Beach.

Originally 280-acres, the Malibu Riding and Tennis Club property, comprising the lower eastern half of the watershed and threatened by massive development, was acquired first by the Mountains Restoration Trust in 1997 and subsequently transferred to the Nature Trust of the Santa Monica Mountains in 2000.

Phase 1 of the Nature Trust's Nicholas Canyon watershed protection plan was realized with the acquisition of the central and upper eastern half of the watershed in 2003-2004 by State Parks. Completion of the protection of the remaining watershed and subsequently its downstream still-pristine beaches would be accomplished through the purchase of the western half of the watershed, the 172-acre Freshman parcel.

Recreational Infrastructure of the Nature Trust

  • The Recreational Infrastructure is Very Diverse and Unique. It is ideal for providing structured nature-based outdoor recreational programs and special events that expand coastal visitor experiences and personal wellness, as well as special events such as weddings, private parties and related functions.

  • Experiencing "God's Little Healing Pocket." It is said that Nicholas Canyon's healing and restorative powers have been recognized from the origin of human contact with the land beginning with the Chumash people approximately 10,000 years ago. The folklore continued into the early part of the 20th century when people who lived and worked on the land referred to the canyon as "God's Little Healing Pocket." Even today, visitors to the property often acknowledge a sense of a special place as expressed in inner peace and restoration of mind and spirit when they spend the day.

  • The Wellness Center with adjacent Pool, Spa and Fitness Center is one of the attractions of the charming Sycamore Lodge and its extensive infrastructure that also features kitchen facilities. It serves as headquarters for private outdoor recreation-connected functions inclusive of wellness programs, art shows and related programs, and ceremonial functions inclusive of weddings.

  • The Lower Canyon Park-like Environment is handicap-accessible and provides a peaceful, quiet, and tranquil setting dotted by park benches in sycamore and oak groves. It is dissected by private trails that lead through the canyon, onto the adjacent watershed and to surrounding parkland. Mostly structured passive recreation includes picnicking, studying the native plant life, observing the wildlife, spending a day birding in an undisturbed park-like setting, meditating in peace and quiet, being part of or listening to Native Indian flute concerts, watching the hummingbirds up close in the hummingbird preserve, being part of a wedding ceremony and appreciating the expansive ocean, sunsets and nighttime star views from trail and lookout vistas. Within the canyon the handicap-accessible former caretaker cottage provides unique day or overnight experiences within close proximity to an intermittent stream and nature's wildlands.

  • Tennis Courts and Equestrian Riding Rings removed from the riparian areas provide more active recreation infrastructure where one can play a game of tennis or participate in equestrian activities (with reservations). Active recreation also extends to swimming, surfing, or kayaking along the beaches.

  • The Central and Upper Canyon Wilderness Environment within the Nicholas Canyon watershed is designated by the State of California as an ESHA (Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area) and is home to a variety of wildlife, such as mountain lions, bobcats, deer, hawks, and owls, to name just a few. The canyon provides a fine example of a riparian oak-sycamore-willow corridor. Such riparian corridors are important to wildlife because of the availability of water and the subsequent diversity of vegetation.

  • State and County Beaches and Parks that surround the site offer clean water, ocean breezes and stunning sunsets and greatly expand the outdoor experience. Along the beaches one can sunbathe or meditate, observe dolphins (regularly), migrating whales (seasonally), shorebirds (almost daily weather permitting) while watching the waves perpetually rolling in. More active recreation includes swimming, kayaking, surfing and exercising inclusive of jogging.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Nature Based Education
 
Outdoor recreation and nature-based education expands the horizons of young and old alike.
 
 
Nature Based Education
 
Habitat conservation includes protection of beaches and shorelines, in cooperation with public agencies and private parties.
 
 
Nature Based Education
 
A variety of recreational activities — including horseback riding — are available to complement our array of educational and wellness programs.
 
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