Past Meetup

Backbone Trail, part 1: Suitable for All Members

This Meetup is past

25 people went

Backbone Trail Parking Area

Kanan Dune Rd. · Malibu, CA

How to find us

We'll lurk about in the parking lot until everyone arrives.

Location image of event venue


This hike (and part 2 the next day) will begin from the same Backbone trail head in the Santa Monica Mountains on Kanan Dume Road. In this first hike we'll take the Backbone Trail eastward, first going over one of the 3 tunnels on Kanan, then on through a long stretch of shade-providing oak and up across Latigo Canyon road. We'll return by the same route.

The shaded area is especially prone to darkness late in the day, so please bring a flashlight just in case it is dark before we get back to the parking lot.

I found a description of this hike that says it is 2.5 miles from Kanan Rd to Latigo Cyn Road, so if we stop there and go back it is a 5 mile hike with about a 750' elevation gain. If we continue on for another 1.5 miles we will reach a vista just below Castro Peak, turning the whole hike into 8 miles and 1250' elevation gain.

That latter, longer route is what I originally did a couple years ago when I found this hike, but may be too long for some. Thus, I assume that we'll do the shorter version unless there is an uprising with people demanding to go the longer route, but if that happens EVERYONE has to agree. I want this hike to be accessible to all members.

Click HERE ( for a map that includes the route just described.

Known Dangers include rattlesnakes and there may be some poison oak in this area, though I do not exactly recall. In any case, always hike with care and be attending this hike you accept that you alone are responsible for your safety and shall hold no one else responsible for any accidents or injuries you may suffer. You may, however, give me full credit for the beauty of the landscape.

News Flash: I just read at that restrooms were apparently installed at this trailhead today (9-11).

Directions: I finally got the map link above to stop showing Barcelona, Spain, so you may click/look there, but it's easy. Get yourself to Kanan Dume road that runs north-south through the Santa Monica mountains. If you are coming from the PCH, go through the first tunnel and immediately look for the trailhead parking coming up fast on your left. If coming from the 101, the parking will be on your right just before you enter the third tunnel. If this lot is full, there is an overflow lot about 1/4 mile to the north on the same side of Kanan. In case there are other hikers there, it would be wise to car pool with others. Just leave a note below if you want to find or provide a ride with/for others.

Here are some pictures of this hike when I went by myself once. Looking back at Kanan Road after crossing over one of the tunnels:

Much of the trail is shaded as this picture shows:

The next picture is at a point another 1.5 miles beyond where we are planning to turn around. You can see the Backbone Trail continuing east in the distance with a hint of the Pacific toward the right.