Utilizing the Mishe Mokwa Trail
and the Backbone Trail
, this running loop offers unrivaled views as it takes you through the Santa Monica Mountains to the summit of the highest peak in the range, Sandstone Peak (3,110').
From the trailhead at the edge of the parking area, run up the dirt road for 3/10 of a mile until you reach a juncture with the Backbone Trail
. Follow the Backbone Trail
to the right briefly before you come across another junction with the Mishe Mokwa Trail
. Turn left here to follow the Mishe Mokwa Trail
as it gains elevation winding around the hillsides of Boney Mountain.
Along the way, you'll have the chance to catch some views of Triunfo Pass and the historic Chumash Trail
. The Mishe Mokwa Trail
eventually levels off before descending to Carlisle Canyon. At this point, there are good views of Balanced Rock.
Moving along the trail will take you further into the canyon to Split Rock, which is home to a picnic area, creek and spring. Leaving Split Rock, you'll rise out of the canyon and at the highest point you'll see a pyramid-shaped rock called Egyptian Rock straight ahead. Following the trail along it will eventually come to an end soon as it runs into the Backbone Trail
, roughly 1.3 miles from the Split Rock site.
From here, link up with the Backbone Trail
and head south briefly before the trail turns eastward. Be sure to avoid following the Backbone Trail
to the right (west) at its juncture with the Mishe Mokwa Trail
. Continue gaining elevation while you follow the Backbone Trail
. After switchbacking a couple of times, you'll see a steep trail diverge to the right, follow this to the summit of Sandstone Peak. From here, you'll have unrivaled views of the Oxnard Plain, the Channel Islands, the Topatopa Mountains, and the Pacific.
After you've had the chance to experience Sandstone Peak, return to the Backbone Trail
and follow it for a little over a mile as it descends down to the original trailhead.
Thanks to John McKinney, The Trailmaster, for sharing this trail description. To learn more about trails in California, check out his guides at The Trailmaster Store