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“Great hike & views”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Backbone Trail

Ranked #22 of 52 things to do in Malibu
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Attraction details
Owner description: Spectacular scenery over three ridges in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Prescott, Arizona
Level Contributor
28 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Great hike & views”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 July 2014

You need to be prepared for the challenges of a variety of levels and uneven terrain. Also a good guide makes it more interesting.

Visited April 2014
4 Thank 19022013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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24 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Los Angeles, California, United States
Level Contributor
130 reviews
80 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
“Sandstone Peak Trail - fave in SoCal”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 June 2014

This is pretty much our favorite hike in SoCal, there's nothing like the views from the top and even the drive there and back through Malibu is stunning! Be sure to bring water as there is no where to fill up along the trail. It's dog friendly too!

Check out our post with more hiking tips and some awesome photos:

Visited June 2014
3 Thank MrandMrsAdventure
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Park City, Utah
Level Contributor
139 reviews
33 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 126 helpful votes
“Blessed to have this here!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 May 2014

I live in Malibu and am on this trail almost daily. So many places to start your hike from and all so different from each other. Some of the best attributes of this trail are- the single track that seems to be well taken care of, the wildlife that you see; I have seen coyotes, a bobcat, dear, owls, hawks (Snakes- rattlers- be careful in hot weather!) and the feeling that you are no where near Los Angeles. All of those tourists crowding a trail that isn't even that great- Winding Way, are seriously missing out on the really great trail- Backbone. Start at Busch, Bonsall, Kanan, Will Rodgers, Mulholland…..Bring plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen. And know where you are going as there are miles and miles of trail. Dogs on leash are welcome but make sure you bring enough water for them in the summer time as it can get very hot and I have seen too many idiots who didn't think to bring their dogs anything. - Really fun- park at the lot just north of Tunnel 1 on Kanan. Go west and meet up with the Zuma View trail off off Busch. Loop back down through Bonsall and have another car waiting there. A couple of hours of beautiful and varied scenery. Endless views of the canyons, mountains and ocean.

Visited April 2014
5 Thank MalbuMom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Malibu, California, United States
Level Contributor
618 reviews
282 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 177 helpful votes
“Finest Hiking Trail in LA Area”
5 of 5 bubbles 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.

Visited March 2014
1 Thank Thomas S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“World Class Mountain Biking & Hiking”
5 of 5 bubbles 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.

Visited December 2013
8 Thank backbone310
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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