What is the Backbone Trail?

Watch the series, "Backbone Trail," available online. A new episode will be released every Friday through September 8.


The new series, "BackBone Trail," follows musician and outdoorsman Butchy Fuego over the course of a four-day trek through the newly opened Backbone Trail across the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The almost 70-mile long-distance trail, in development for decades through the efforts of many public and private agencies and organizations, was officially completed in 2016. “The Backbone Trail is important because it puts the Santa Monica Mountains on the map,” trail builder Ron Webster told the L.A. Times in 2016, “We may not have the biggest waterfalls or the biggest trees, but we do have the biggest ocean.”

This National Recreation Trail, from its eastern terminus at Will Rogers State Historic Park, passes over impressive ridges, traverses through chaparral hillsides, canyons, and oak woodlands before reaching its western terminus at the Pacific Ocean at Point Mugu State Park. Discover more about the Backbone Trail below:

backbone trail map

Courtesy of nps.gov

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The Basics:

backbone trail

Still from "Backbone Trail"

Total Length of Trail: 67 Miles

Where It Starts Closest to L.A.: Will Rogers State Historic Park, Pacific Palisades

Where It Ends Farthest From L.A.: Point Magu State Park, Malibu

Highest Point: Sandstone Peak, 3,111 feet above sea level

Lowest Point: Ray Miller Trailhead, 25 feet above sea level

Longest Contiguous Stretch of the Trail Without a Road Crossing: 16 Miles, between Mishe Mokwa and Ray Miller Trailhead

Total Trailheads: 12 trailheads to access the trail at different sections

Do I Need a Permit to Hike the Trail?: No

Can I Camp Along the Trail?: There are a few campgrounds, but the National Park Service recommends day hiking in sections.

What To Do Along the Trail: Hiking, horseback riding, trail running, rock climbing

Best Time of Year to Hike: Late winter to early spring

Why Go: According to the National Park Service, "The Backbone Trail crosses the best-protected stretch of coastal Mediterranean habitat in the world and offers an amazing diversity of trail experiences."

What a Preview of "Backbone Trail"

Top Image: The Backbone Trail as it passes through Mishe Mokwa. | Seanydelight/CC BY-SA 3.0


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