Backbone National Recreation Trail

**As of November 13, 2018, the Backbone NRT is effectively closed, due to the indefinite closure of Point Mugu State Park and the loss of almost 90% of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to the Woolsey Fire.**

The Backbone National Recreation Trail is a nearly 68-mile continuous trail that extends from Ray Miller trailhead at Point Mugu State Park to the west, across the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area, to Will Rogers State Park to the east. It was designated a National Recreation Trail in 2016, and the primary information source regarding this trail is via the National Park Service. 

The trail traverses a wide variety of environments and climates, including the Mediterranean. Views from the trail include the Pacific Ocean, coastal ranges and foothills, and downtown Los Angeles. A wide variety of flora and fauna can be found on the trail, as is to be expected when transitioning through such a wide variety of environments. The side trip to Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains, is well worth the time and effort!

I hiked just under half of the eastern portion of the trail in mid-March, 2017, from the Ray Miller trailhead in Point Mugu State Park to the Encinal trailhead, and also a short out and back from Kanan Dune back toward Encinal. 

No permit is required to hike the Backbone Trail. However, camping is only allowed at designated (and frequently off-trail) campgrounds. The longest trail section between campgrounds is the 26.6 miles between the off-trail Circle X Ranch CG and the also off-trail Malibu Creek State Park CG near King Gillette Ranch. Freshwater sources are seasonal, and usually dry. There is water available from taps in various places along or nearby the trail, although there are still some long carries. There are long stretches of trail with full sun exposure, so sunscreen and plenty of water is vital. Cell service varies along the trail, with little to no service in canyons, to full LTE on ridges and hilltops. There are numerous road crossings, and a dozen designated trailheads providing access along the length of the trail. Mountain biking is allowed on most of the trail, and it is very popular with cyclists, especially on the weekends.

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