Hike the Backbone Trail via Will Rogers State Park

Rate this Adventure 1501 Will Rogers State Park Road

​The LA-centered State Park is a great place to explore, offering multiple trails, ocean views, all the amenities, and links up to the famous Backbone Trail which connects 63 miles of the Santa Monica National Recreation Area from Malibu to Santa Monica, CA. This is an ideal piece of the trail to experience, providing a strenuous climb until just after you reach the bridge lookout at ~1.6 miles.

You'll make your way up Will Rogers State Park Road, located just minutes from Santa Monica, Brentwood, Westwood, Malibu, Palisades, and much of west Los Angeles. Once on the road, head all the way to the top and you'll dead end into the parking lot. Always worth supporting State Parks with the parking fees, but there is also a strip of street parking that has no regulations, just outside the park. 

Once ready to hike or run, you'll head to the back of the parking lot. With the polo fields and bathroom still to your right, you'll see a dirt path with a sign where the trail starts. There are multiple ways around Inspiration Point Loop but I usually keep left on the fire roads. Upon a noticeable intersection, you'll head down to the Backbone Trailhead instead of heading to Inspiration Point. You'll see signage for Backbone Trail right before the trail jets up and into the hills. 

You can take the trail as far as you please, as it extends 62 miles. Once you surpass the first 1.5 mile climb to the bridge lookout, the trail will even out over rolling hills, turning it's way through the Santa Monica mountains. A lot of the trail is exposed, but winds through some forested areas as well, offering various viewpoints throughout. 

It can get very hot during summer months, so beware of the sun and heat in the middle of the day.  

Pack List

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera 
  • Water (extra!)
  • A layer 
  • Pants (the brush can close in on the trail for extended sections)
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Activities Photography, Running, Yoga, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Groups
Picnic Area
Scenic

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