• Stars appear behind a dramatic landscape of rocky mountains, rolling hills, and fields of grass

    Santa Monica Mountains

    National Recreation Area California

About the Backbone Trail (BBT)

Landscapes strech as farther then even the boarders of the national recreation area.

photo by jim belsley

About The Backbone Trail

A Santa Monica Mountains ridgeline trail has been a vision for more than 50 years. Originally the trail was to run from Griffith Park to Point Mugu, but that idea never progressed. In the 1970s, with the establishment of state parks in the mountains, the notion began to crystallize. The Backbone Trail would stretch from Will Rogers State Historic Park to Point Mugu State Park, anchored in the middle by Malibu Creek State Park.

During the 1980s, many who shared the vision started working on the project with California State Parks, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the National Park Service. By 2010, 62 miles of the trail had been completed. It followed ridges, traversed chaparral-covered hillsides, entered oak woodlands, and crossed creeks and valleys.

 
Hikers explore some of the more remote areas of the Santa Monica Mountains.

photo by jim belsley

Like Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the BBT system has progressed little by little across a patchwork of public lands. It has been constructed by volunteers, by the California Conservation Corps, and by professional staff from various parkland agencies. Parts of the trail were old animal paths that became single-track trails; other stretches were converted from fire roads. Only the newest sections have been built to modern trail standards.

Because the trail system has been pieced together, trail sections may have different names and not all sections are open to all users. For example, mountain bikes are permitted on most fire roads, but only permitted on some single track trails. Those trails are posted open for mountain biking. Always watch the trails signs. No mountain bikes are permitted in the state park wilderness area in Pt. Mugu State Park.

There are still two areas of the trail that are not complete. We expect they will be completed soon. When the Backbone Trail is finished it will extend 65 miles, unifying parklands in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Questions about hiking the Backbone Trail

Click here to e-mail us questions about the Backbone Trail throughout the year. Experienced Backbone Trail hikers will respond to your questions.

Did You Know?