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“Finest Hiking Trail in LA Area”
Review of Backbone Trail

Ranked #21 of 53 things to do in Malibu
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Owner description: Spectacular scenery over three ridges in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Reviewed 15 April 2014

If you are an adventurous hiking enthusiast, the Santa Monica Mountains backbone trail is for you. You can take it in sections and you will be amazed at the scenic beauty on the ocean and valley sides of the SM mountains. The best "free" thing to do in LA, other than going to the Beach.

1  Thank Thomas S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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23 - 27 of 28 reviews

Reviewed 17 December 2013

I've hiked and biked the entire 65-mile length of the Backbone Trail from where it starts in Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades, CA to its terminus just outside of La Jolla State Park in Malibu along Pacific Coast Highway. From Will Rogers, the trail begins as a steep fire road (bikeable) and traverses several picturesque canyons with magnificent ocean, canyon, and mountain views, and at times becomes a single track. In a few sections of the trail, mountain bikes are not allowed in most of the trails that travel from Topanga, CA to Malibu Cyn Rd/Las Virgenes Cyn Rd in Calabasas, CA. I've not yet met anyone who has hiked/run/biked the entire length in one day, as the trail is very rugged and steep in some sections, with many major climbs and descents between the several different canyons from the PacPalisades to Malibu.

If you're short on time, don't miss these parts of the Backbone Trail:
- Munsch Trail/Topanga State Park: out and back with 26 different species of California wildflowers. No bikes. Best time to hike is Spring.
- Fossil Trail/Hondo Canyon in Malibu: out and back with lots of fossils along the trail with spectacular ocean and canyon views. No bikes.
- Backbone/Kanan Rd/Newton Canyon in Malibu: out and back over the T1 tunnel and climb up to Latigo Canyon, down and up to Corral Canyon with 8 seasonal stream crossings. Magnificent ocean, mountain, and canyon views. Nearly 100% single track. Best for bikers with at least intermediate skills and good cardio. Technical with exposure in some sections, elevation gain of 3,600 feet over 5 miles one way. The distance may be short, but the going is challenging after Latigo Canyon.
- Encinal/Backbone/Encinal Canyon to Sandstone Peak in Malibu: this out and back trail has it all: single track, multi-use, and fire road. Probably the best ocean and mountain views of the entire Backbone Trail, plus a visit to the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains. Forever views of the valley. Best for bikers of at least high beginner level with some cardio fitness. 3 short, steep hills there and back again, but so worth it. Sighting of the Painted Lady Butterfly hatchings in early Spring.

8  Thank backbone310
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 October 2013 via mobile

I went hiking there last week. It is a mix of hills and plateaus but overall a good hike.

Only advise here regards to snakes. On my hiking we had one right in the middle of the path. Be aware and be careful.

We had two guys pulling her over and later called the authority responsible for animal control.

3  Thank ragdias
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 July 2013

Pack plenty of water, sun screen, snacks, etc.
This is just over 6 hrs round trip
Best time to go is late Spring on a clear day but good year round
Not recommended for kidz
Enjoy

1  Thank heeuk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 November 2011

The backbone trail is about 60 miles in all. It can new traversed from Will Rogers park in Santa Monica to Point Mugu in Malibu.
Rent a mt.bike from Topanga Creek bicycles and have a blast. It's a great way to see the trail.

6  Thank BuLife
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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