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Backbone Trail

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

68.8 mile 110.7 kilometer point to point
87% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 12,338' 3,761 m
Descent: -11,948' -3,642 m
High: 2,975' 907 m
Low: 56' 17 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 39% (21°)

Dogs

Leashed
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Map Key

The entire long-distance trail between the Ray Miller Trailhead and Will Rogers State Historic Park.

Zander Göpfert

Features Birding · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Leashed dogs are allowed on some sections of this trail but not all. Check the section you plan on running before bringing the doggo.

Description

A Santa Monica Mountains ridgeline trail has been a goal for more than 50 years. Originally, it was set to stretch between Griffith Park to Point Mugu, but that concept never came to fruition. In the 1970s, with the start of state parks in the mountains, the idea began to gain momentum. The Backbone Trail would connect from Will Rogers State Historic Park to Point Mugu, heading right through the middle of Malibu Creek State Park.

During the 1980s, a number of supporters began to work on the project with California State Parks, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and the National Park Service. By 1990, 43 miles of the trail had been completed. It climbed ridges, cut across chaparral-covered hillsides, dove into oak woodlands, and forded creeks and valleys.

Like Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the Backbone Trail System has grown inch by inch across a collage of public lands. It has been constructed by volunteers, the California Conservation Corps, and professional staff from various parkland agencies. Sections of the trail were old animal paths that turned into singletrack trails; other segments were adopted fire roads. Only the most recently built sections have been created to modern trail standards.

Because of this trail-stitching process, some sections have different names and not every section is open to each user. For example, biking is limited to fire roads and is not permitted on singletrack trails—unless that trail is sanctioned and signed for bikes.

With the finishing touches being completed in the summer of 2016, the trail is now completely connected from end to end, stretching an uninterrupted ~67 miles through breathtaking coastal California scenes. Stay tuned for a possible National Recreation Trail designation in the months to come.

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

Need to Know, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes

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Check-Ins

Apr 14, 2019
Emi Underwood

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 6 votes

#5942

Overall
  4.3 from 6 votes
5 Star
33%
4 Star
67%
3 Star
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1 Star
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Trail Rankings

#546

in California

#5,942

Overall
113 Views Last Month
3,677 Since Oct 13, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Amazing view of Santa Monica, you can see Catalina Island on the left side of the photo
Aug 20, 2015 near Santa M…, CA
Owl's Clover: Found some nice patches along the trail.
Aug 2, 2017 near Malibu…, CA
A gorgeous day and spectacular views make for a wonderful time on the Ray Miller / Backbone Trail!
Feb 1, 2017 near Camarillo, CA
At the top of the trail right before the Overlook Trail intersection.
Feb 15, 2016 near Camarillo, CA
The view from Inspiration Point is pretty stellar.
Apr 6, 2017 near Casa Co…, CA
Echo Cliffs
Jul 16, 2018 near Casa Co…, CA

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