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. In 2016, the Backbone Trail was officially completed with 67 miles of unbroken trail experience and it became designated as a National Recreation Trail.