Past Meetup

Rustic Canyon - Backbone Trail Loop Hike


Come join us on a hike through beautiful Rustic Canyon in Topanga State Park ( followed by a climb up to Chicken Ridge on the Rogers Road section of the backbone trail. From there we will return to the start in Will Rogers State Historic Park. The steep walls of Rustic Canyon, combined with the gentle stream and almost total shade from giant oak and sycamore trees, make this a spectacular setting. Along the first half-mile of the canyon, much of the trail has been washed out so we'll be picking our way along the rocks at the edge of the stream. It's easy to do without getting your feet wet, or you can just plunge in and hike up the stream. It's only a few inches deep in most places. After the waterfall at the old dam, we'll climb out of the canyon and stick to the clear trail, except to observe some old buildings that are remnants of a compound of Nazi sympathizers from the 1930's. We'll also pass a couple of mystery staircases that look like they were built recently. The trail ends at Josepho Camp, a Boy Scouts facility, so we'll head up to Rogers Road by way of the “J-Drop” trail. We'll get some exercise on this trail, climbing 650' in just 0.7 miles, and we'll see some clear examples of past water erosion. This trail has a lot of shade from tall chaparral. On Rogers Road we'll have great views of Santa Monica, Los Angeles, the coast and, if it's clear, the Channel Islands. When we get back to Will Rogers State Historic Park, we'll take a brief detour on the Betty Rogers Trail to Inspiration Point, then head back down to the cars. You can view photos of our last hike here ( to see what to expect. Be warned that there is poison oak in Rustic Canyon and some of it encroaches on the trail and stream. It is possible to hike this section with short pants and not touch any (I speak from experience), but I recommend long pants for a little extra security in regard to itch prevention! You will also want to wear hiking boots with good grip because the wet rocks can be a little slippery next to the stream.

Statistics: The hiking distance will be a about 6 miles, with about 1100 feet of climbing.

Directions: Meet at the parking area next to the polo field in Will Rogers State Historic Park, 1501 Will Rogers Park Road, Pacific Palisades. There is a fee to park here.

From I-405, exit at Sunset Blvd and head west. Drive 4.5 miles on Sunset, then turn right onto Will Rogers State Park Rd. Drive to the polo field, about 0.8 miles.

From Malibu, drive east on the PCH, turning left onto Chautauqua Blvd. Drive 1 mile, then turn right onto Sunset Blvd. After 0.6 miles, turn left onto Will Rogers State Park Rd. The polo field is about 0.8 miles up the road.


Note the later than normal start time to give us more time to get there during rush hour traffice!

Please read the release of liability below in its entirety. By signing up for our group, you are agreeing to it for all events you participate in.


The hike host is a volunteer and not responsible for the group. Safety should be a priority for everyone in the group. Please treat this meet-up as hiking with a group of friends. If you become fatigued and unable to continue the hike, it is expected you will advise the hike host of this and return to our starting point on your own. If you are able to proceed, it is expected that you will maintain line of sight with other members of the group at all times and help to promote the group’s safety and fitness goals.

Outdoor sports and other events we plan can be inherently dangerous and accidents may happen. By participating in any posted event, you are taking responsibility for your own safety and well-being. The Weekday Trailblazers Meetup Group and its organizers are not trained leaders and we do not confirm the qualifications of any of its members to lead or participate in trips. All participants take full responsibility for their own actions.

If you choose to sign up for this or any Weekday Trailblazers Meetup event, you are releasing the Weekday Trailblazers Meetup Group, its organizers, and sponsors from all liability in case of possible injuries. Your personal safety depends on your own judgment and experience.

All participants must be 18 or older, or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.