Segment 8 - Trippet Ranch to Will Rogers State Park

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


Can it be Segment #8 already? How do you feel about your journey coming to an end? This is mostly exposed single track and a pretty healthy walk at about 11 miles with 3,500 feet of cumulative elevation gain and loss. And remember to have a good breakfast, hydrate early, triple check weather and your pack essentials, no valuables visible in your car no keys in the wheel well and your three trail threats: rattlesnakes, ticks and poison oak. Will Rogers State Historic Park is where you'll conclude your Backbone journey. Leave extra cars and any end-of-hike rewards here, and carpool up to Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park to begin your grand finale.

To reach the end you must start, so shall we? From the kiosk walk the paved road for 0.25 mile and take the single track Mush Trail on your right. In a wonderfully diverse 1.25 mile you arrive at Mush Ranch. What is up with all these ranch names: Mush, Trippit, Will Rogers? The only thing constant in the Santa Monica Mountains is change. And after World War II soldiers were returning home and were seeking to break away from patterns of pre-war life. New technology and developments were pushed into these mountains at unprecedented levels. Numerous roads were paved and communities were built, changing the look and feel of the land. Fortunately, with all the ranch holdings that didn't allow construction or development there was plenty of land that stayed open and protected. And going into the 1960s and 70s the pursuit of growth began to meet resistance. Riding the wave of the American Environmental Movement locals like Sue Nelson, Jill Swift and Margot Feuer worked tirelessly to protect and save the Santa Monica Mountains. Since then this site continues to be an important resource for residents and tourists alike. The Mush Trail will ‘T’ intersect with a dirt road at 3.5 miles. Turn left and soar up to Eagle Rock or as they say, “take the high road”. Enjoy this enormous sedimentary sandstone outcrop. Can you spot the eagle? Views to the interior aren't too shabby either. 1.0 mile further finds you at the Hub. Continue on the road headed towards the ocean for about 0.5 mile, and begin the single track on your left. This trail to Will Rogers’ Home is called Rogers Road, but it's largely single track for the next 5.5 miles. Do the hills on this end of the Backbone look older or younger than the hills on the other end?

As you make your long descent down towards Will Rogers State Historic Park notice the dark brown shattered rock by the side of the trail. This exposure is of the Santa Monica Slate Formation. While not much to look at it does represent the oldest rock in the Santa Monica Mountains and dates to about 200 million years ago. The slate is the third type of rock. It is a metamorphic rock, which means it changed its shape or form due to heat and or pressure. This slate was previously a sedimentary rock. Being the oldest rock it is at the center of this folded range. You might wonder where are all the other younger rocks? Where did they go? Yes, that's right. Erosion has removed all the younger rocks, and they measured several thousands of feet in thickness. And has allowed us to glimpse into the very heart of the Santa Monica Mountains. Will pondering the last 200 million years while wrapping up your journey across the Santa Monicas have a metamorphic effect on you? Glimpses of urban encroachment lead to full-blown cityscapes, from Santa Monica Bay to the San Gabriel Mountains. Ah, civilization! When you reach the kiosk in the four-way intersection stay right and follow the Inspiration Loop Trail for the last mile. The actual vista point is up a short spur road just a few feet ahead on the left. Various single tracks intersect with the Inspiration Loop Trail, but stay on the road and you'll end up at the Rogers’ ranch house, stables and polo field. Will Rogers was Cherokee and among his endless wise observations, he noted that our good fortune can't possibly last longer than our natural resources. So find a comfy place and let's consider how Will Roger's words linking natural resources to our good fortune overlap with this journey. Every step you take along the Backbone Trail you are stepping through time. And through all the multiple layers of cultural history just remember that you too are now a part of that story.

It is really important to think about the wildlife as you are hiking the Backbone Trail because they help balance everything. Remember, we are all in it together.

Hiking along the Backbone Trail reveals how geology has shaped not only the Santa Monica Mountains but Southern California as well.

The floral diversity of the Santa Monica Mountains is truly a treasure, and it's in our own backyard. I hope we've sparked an interest, and you'll learn more about the marvelous plants that live in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Thank you, thank you, thank you

Indeed, thank you for your interest in this deceptively complex mountain range. And we would love to hear what particularly intrigued you during your own Backbone Trail journey. Does the collision of cultures along this shoreline present new possibilities? Were you humbled by the uplift and folding of mountains offering ancient sculpture gardens to help us comprehend life as it was millions of years ago? Was it the renewal found in canyons cradling the precious waters of life and the sentinel trees that shelter them? Could you fathom the scale and depth of nature's inherent checks and balances from microscopic to lion sized? And there's still that unanswered question of our ability to integrate with and sustain the delicate dance of co-evolution that harkens back to the beginning of time. Your Backbone Trail, like an elegant string of pearls, displays all of these and their fragility. And you who do your part as responsible stewards of these elusive and threatened resources, you, too, are another of the iridescent jewels in that necklace; nurturing your Backbone Trail, enriching your National Recreation Area and sustaining our precious adopted homeland. Visit the Santa Monica Mountains National Park Service website for Backbone Trail reference materials, or contact the Visitor Center.

The National Park Service thanks the efforts of our dedicated volunteers and is appreciative of the support of the Chumash and Tongva peoples.


Trippet Ranch is the start of segment eight and Will Rogers State Historic Park is your grand finale. It begins with wonderful plant diversity on the Musch Ranch Trail. If not for all of these large ranch holdings from before World War II, the Recreation Area might well have never been realized. Post-war development was rampant, but eventually the residents of Southern California were able to protect areas for future generations.


7 minutes, 58 seconds



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