A brief history of the Backbone Trail

Published by Steve on

The Backbone Trail, a 67-mile route among the sycamore canyons and sandstone peaks of the Santa Monica Mountains, was a dream in the 1960s. Today it is a reality.

Source of this article: The Los Angeles Times, May 26, 2016



Backbone Trail: 1944

The establishment of Will Rogers State Historic Park opens the Inspiration Point Loop Trail, which would become the eastern end of the Backbone Trail.



California Department of Parks and Recreation acquires land for Topanga State Park, Malibu Creek State Park and Point Mugu State Park. Existing fire roads inside these parks have become part of the Backbone Trail.la-me-g-backbone-2


Congress establishes the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area to be managed by the National Park Service in partnership with state and local governments. California State Parks acquires more parcels for Topanga State Park.la-me-g-backbone-3


The newly formed Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the National Park Service acquire numerous properties for the Backbone Trail, leaving only a six-mile gap from Zuma Ridge Motorway to Mishe Mowka trailhead. Ron Webster and a crew from the Sierra Club build 10 new trails for the Backbone Trail.la-me-g-backbone-4


Further land acquisitions allow for the Backbone Trail to be extended from Will Rogers state park to the Zuma Ridge Motorway in the Zuma-Trancas Canyons. National Park Service builds segments of trail in the canyons area, and additional purchases extend the western route to Circle X Ranch.la-me-g-backbone-5


National Park Service builds eight miles of trails between Encinal Canyon Road and the Mishe Mokwa trailhead at Circle X Ranch. The Backbone Trail is established with significant gaps in Trancas Canyon and along the Etz Meloy Motorway.la-me-g-backbone-6


National Park Service receives grant money from Los Angeles County to purchase the properties that will complete the Backbone Trail.la-me-g-backbone-7


National Park Service closes escrow on a 40-acre parcel donated by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and fitness pioneer Betty Weider. By May 31, the agency expects escrow to close on two remaining parcels along the Etz Meloy Motorway.la-me-g-backbone-8Source: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Note: This article was published at the same time as an article on the completion of the final few gaps in the Backbone Trail.

1 Comment

67-Mile Backbone Trail will soon be completed in Santa Monica Mountains – VenturaCountyTrails.org News · July 31, 2022 at 6:22 pm

[…] The Los Angeles Times published on their website a graphic history of the Backbone Trail at the same time as the above article was […]

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