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There were good views of Westwood and downtown LA in the distance, but smog levels will effect the quality a lot.
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Backbone Trail - Topanga State Park

1501 Will Rogers Park Road Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
Daylight hours are best for hiking.
310-455-2465 2 hours
January 2014 Winter
$10-29 Los Angeles California
Website Recreation Hiking
First review
The Backbone Trail is an approximately 65 mile trail that runs east to west in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. It connects Will Rogers State Park in the east to Point Mugu State Park in the west. This hike was intended to be 7 miles roundtrip and with a 1,700 elevation gain from Will Rogers Park to Temescal Peak, but turned out to be just 4 miles roundtrip and with a 700 foot elevation gain from the Will Rogers parking lot to slightly beyond a suspension bridge near Chicken Ridge in Topanga State Park.

The Backbone Trail began to be developed in the 1980s through combined public and private conservation efforts. The trail runs through a number of habitats such as chaparral (shrubs, vines and bushes), oak woodlands, meadows and some streams. Winter tends to be a better time of year to hike in this area as the weather is cooler and more wet. Summers are hot and dry. Air pollution also is typically worse in summer and is more pronounced during the week, especially in the afternoon.

Hiking on a Saturday morning in January worked well as the weather was perfect, the wind was light and smog levels were low. The hike initially was very enjoyable in Will Rogers State Park as the trail was broad and well maintained. It got narrower and steeper at the junction with Rogers Road Trail in Topanga State Park. Rogers Road Trail is also part of the Backbone Trail. Views of Los Angeles also were great around here. One could see all of downtown LA and the more distant San Gabriel Mountains to the east. A few other hikers were on the trail as well, but not an excessive number. Once past a suspension bridge the trail became narrower still and overgrown in places with grass and brush. After wading through several stands of vegetation and running short on time an executive decision was made to cut the hike short in favor of other attractions. Should there be a subsequent hike to Temescal Peak, a more direct approach and better hiking option would a 5.8 mile roundtrip from the Palisades Drive trailhead along the Temescal Ridge Trail to Temescal Peak. While this outing was cut short, it was still enjoyable up to the suspension bridge with both good views and a moderately challenging hike.
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