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Backbone Trail

Location The Backbone Trail runs along the east-west ridgelines and canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains, from Will Rogers State Historic Park in the city of Los Angeles to Point Mugu State Park in Ventura County.
State(s) California
Counties Los Angeles, Ventura
Type Backcountry
Equestrian Trail
Fitness Trail
Mountain Bike Trail
Nature Trail
Length 67.00 Miles / 107.83 Km Loop Trail? No
Allowed Uses Bicycling (off pavement)
Dogs - On leash
Equestrian - Riding
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Wildlife Observation
Agency National Park Service
Entry Fee? No Parking Fee? Yes


The Backbone Trail is part of the Backbone Trail System.
View all trails in this system.



photo: Ocean view from Backbone Trail, Ray Miller Trail in Point Mugu State Park
Ocean view from Backbone Trail, Ray Miller Trail in Point Mugu State Park

The Backbone Trail is one of the most attractive long-distance trails in southern California, amazing for its urban-wildland contrast. The Backbone Trail is situated adjacent to one of the most densely populated and ethnically diverse metropolitan areas in the United States. Approximately 17 million Californians live within an hour’s drive of the trail. Yet, visitors can take in a great diversity of scenery, with several trail experiences to choose from: narrow footpaths close to nature, multi-use trails that are not steep and are easy on the heart and knees, and fire roads. The trail is enjoyed by a broad range of visitors, from those seeking a one day outing within their comfort level in an outdoor setting, to those training for a backpacking trip.

The trail stretches 67 miles from Will Rogers State Historic Park in Los Angeles to Point Mugu State Park in Ventura County where the mountains meet the Oxnard Plain. It generally follows the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains, with elevations from near sea level to just over 3,000 feet at Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the mountains.

Early visions from 50 years ago called for a “Ridge Trail,” aligned from Griffith Park in the City of Los Angeles to Point Mugu State Park. That idea, however, never went forward owing to difficulty weaving a trail among development in the Hollywood Hills and along Mulholland Drive. In the 1970s, with the establishment of State Parks in the mountain (Continued...)


Visitor Information

Date Opens: 1/1 - Date Closes: 12/31

Time Opens: Not Available - Time Closes: Not Available


The Backbone Trail can be reached from the 101 Freeway and Pacific Coast Highway and taking the cross-mountain roads to several trailheads, some where the trail crosses the road. To reach the eastern terminus in Will Rogers State Historic Park, turn onto Will Rogers State Park Road at the Sunset Boulevard traffic signal. To reach the western terminus, turn off Pacific Coast Highway at La Jolla Canyon in Point Mugu State Park; take off from Ray Miller Trailhead.


Additional Information

Width: 53 inches.

Primary Surface: Soil, Compacted

Secondary Surface: None

Average Grade: 8%

Elevation Low Point: 25

Elevation High Point: 3007

Year Designated: 2016

Date Last Updated: 08/16/2017


Contact Information

Public Contact:
David Szymanski
National Park Service
401 W. Hillcrest Dr.
Thousand Oaks , CA 91360
(805) 370-2342

Trail Management:
Craig Sap
District Superintendent
California State Parks
1925 Las Virgenes Rd.
Calabasas , CA 91302
(818) 880-0396

Trail Management:
Joseph Edmiston
Executive Director
Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
5750 Ramirez Canyon Rd.
Malibu , CA 90265
(323) 221-9944

Trail Management:
Joseph Edmiston
Executive Officer
Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority
5750 Ramirez Canyon Rd.
Malibu , CA 90265
(323) 221-9944


Related Webpages and Documents

Title Type Link
National Park Service information on the Backbone Website View/Download
Featured article on the Backbone Trail Website View/Download



Do you see a problem with this trail data? Contact either the trail manager (listed above) or email


NOTE: The information on this web site and/or in this database is provided for the convenience of the public, trail managers, organizations, elected officials, etc. Neither the National Park Service, the USDA Forest Service, nor American Trails can guarantee that the information is accurate. Trail users are urged to inquire locally about weather, trail conditions, trail characteristics, fees, and regulations! The information on this web site and/or in this database should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Government, and any mention of trade names, commercial products, or businesses does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Government.




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