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A popular, scenic out-and-back in Will Rogers State Park with beautiful views and picnic spots.

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1,211' 369 m


444' 135 m


1,429' 436 m


1,429' 436 m



Avg Grade (5°)


Max Grade (17°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Due to the overgrown, unmaintained status of the Rustic Canyon Trail, this loop, which originally used the Rustic Canyon Trail, has been changed to head back the way you came.


One of the most popular options in Will Rogers State Park. This run connects the Backbone Trail with a few other trails in the area for a terrific, mid-length day hike option.

Need to Know

Can be hot during summer. Limited water. Watch out for mountain bikers. Limited shade; bring a hat and sunscreen.

Runner Notes

A mixed tread with dirt and rocks.


From Will Roger State Park, take the Inspiration Loop Trail as it bends to the southwest and back to the north. After around one mile on the dirt trail, you'll see a sign for the Backbone Trail, turn left and continue up (north) onto the Backbone Trail.

This singletrack trail has some loose rock in the first section but nothing too technical. After reaching the high point of the loop at around 2.2 miles, the first junction comes up with the Josepho Spur Trail. Turn right onto the Josepho Spur Trail. The Backbone Trail continues to the north quite a ways to The Hub. For more info, see The Hub Out-and-Back recommended route.

Once on the Josepho Spur Trail, dive down to the northeast until you come to the Rustic Canyon Trail. Turn right and head south on the Rustic Canyon Trail as it heads along the west side of Murphy's Ranch and the Murphy Ranch trail (which you'll see pass on the left after ~0.5 miles).

Because the Rustic Canyon Trail is very overgrown, it is HIGHLY recommended that you turn back here and head back the way you came, otherwise, bushwacking, route finding, and/or walking through mud will be required.

Flora & Fauna

Prepare to encounter a lot of wildlife if you go early, such as deer, foxes, and sometimes coyotes. Poison oak!

History & Background

Backbone Trail is one of the most famous trails in California. This loop heads by Murphy's Ranch, which was a camp built by anti-semitic sympathizers of the Silver Legion of America back in the 30's with a lot of secret spots to explore.


Shared By:

Zander Göpfert with improvements by Adam Stout and 2 others

Trail Ratings

  3.7 from 32 votes


in Santa Monica


  3.7 from 32 votes
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in Santa Monica


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14 Views Last Month
6,910 Since Sep 24, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult



Amazing view of Santa Monica, you can see Catalina Island on the left side of the photo
Aug 20, 2015 near Santa M…, CA
Steepest hill climb of the trail.
Aug 20, 2015 near Santa M…, CA
Great view of the Pacific and Santa Monica.
Sep 4, 2020 near Santa M…, CA
Best way to see Los Angeles.  Downtown LA on the left, Century City in the middle and Santa Monica on the right
Aug 20, 2015 near Santa M…, CA
Good morning Los Angeles!
Aug 20, 2015 near Santa M…, CA
Admiring the view at the inspiration point at Will Rogers State Park.
Jun 17, 2015 near Santa M…, CA



Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Aug 22, 2019
Matthew Robinson
Final two miles of the trail is super overgrown and washed out along the creek. Expect to hike in the water. 5.9mi — 1h 25m
Nov 24, 2016
Wayne Chamberlain
Aug 13, 2016
William Prokop
Trails were hard to follow. Lopped through the park and out to the water and back. 20mi — 3h 55m

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