Zuma! It is derived from the Chumash word for “abundance.” Certainly, Zuma and neighboring Trancas Canyons satisfy this description. The perennial streams running through these canyons give rise to an abundance of animal and plant life. These same natural resources have influenced and given rise to a long and rich cultural history.
While venturing through the canyons, look and listen for the signs of life around you. Walk carefully along the trails and discover tracks of deer, rabbit and coyote. Marvel at the delicate homes of funnel web spiders hiding in the earth’s tiny crevices. Listen for the shy wren-tit, the “voice of the chaparral.” Though rarely seen, its call sounds like a ping-pong ball echoing throughout the canyon.
For more than 10,000 years, Zuma and Trancas Canyons have been home to animal, plant and human communities. Chumash ancestors walked here, gathering food and materials for tools and shelter. During the Spanish period (1769-1848), a Mexican Land Grant united the canyons for the first time under one name—Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit. The 13,330 acre grant included coastal areas from Santa Monica to Point Mugu.
Frederick and May Rindge bought the property in 1892 and renamed it Rancho Malibu. They adopted a policy of no through roads and no right-of-way granted to trespassers. May Rindge continued this policy after her husband’s death. As the legendary “Queen of Malibu,” she depleted her fortune while trying to maintain the integrity of her property. Still, after twenty years, the U.S. Supreme Court forced her to allow the Pacific Coast Highway through her ranch.
This scenic highway made the area more accessible to a greater population, forever changing California’s coast. However, Zuma and Trancas Canyons remained minimally developed. Throughout their history, these canyons have had many names, many residents, and many owners. Preserved by the National Park Service, their zuma or their abundance of resources and beauty remain for you to experience.
Zuma Canyon is located in the south central section of the recreation area. There are three main trailheads that provide access. You can use the Google Maps below to help guide you to the park.