• Activities:

    Chillin, Photography, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    2 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1100 Feet

Adult Beverages
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Take in one of the best panoramic views in Southern California. This 2 mile hike (6 miles on Backbone Trail) leads you to the highest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains.

If you live in Los Angeles, Sandstone Peak is a must!

The hike to the summit can be done on a 2 mile hike up and back on Sandstone Peak Trail, or a 6.5 mile hike up and back on Backbone Trail. The shorter trail is more popular, yet both are equally rewarding. You won't believe the views from the summit!

Centered along Yerba Buena Rd. are the two parking lots for the different trails. The lots are roughly 6 miles from Pacific Crest Highway to the south, or Mulholland Highway to the east. Both are well marked and on the northern side of the road. Even if parking fills in the the lots, there is room along the road for overflow.

Both trails are well marked, and the trails well maintained. For Sandstone Peak, follow the gentle switchbacking trail up the north face of the ridge, enjoying views that wind around looking out into the Santa Clara Valley. The brush stands tall here, and it shades the trail up to the stairs at the summit.

The Backbone Trail is longer, and switch backs up from a smaller parking lot a mile to the east of the Sandstone Peak Trail parking lot. The views are more focused into the sandstone gorge to the north, before climbing up to the clearing where the stairs to the summit are. If you continue past, you will hike into the sister peaks, which offer some quieter places to chill, or areas better suited for bouldering and climbing, away from crowds.

The stairs climb about 50 feet and goat paths split off in the brush toward the ridge. Stick to the left and walk up to the base of the peak boulder. Here there are many routes that all go to the top. The ridge hangs out into space on the east side, so watch the ledge. At the summit there is a marker stating: "Mt. Allen, Highest Peak in the Santa Monicas". Below the plaque is a brass box, containing notepads and pens for you to leave your name, some wisdom, or learn something from a fellow traveler.

From above the marker you have full 360º views of the entire mountain range from Palos Verdes and Catalina Island, to Santa Barbara and Channel Islands National Park. To the north are the Traverse Ranges, Ojai and the Santa Clara Valley. All around are impressive sandstone formations, making this a very unique setting. Sit back on the rock and soak in the views.

On your way back down, head into Malibu and avoid the vineyards to the north. The Sunset has happy hour specials, and the best view of the setting sun over Zuma Beach and the waves. This makes for a perfect end to a very Golden State day.

Pack List

  • Trail Shoes
  • Cotapaxi day pack
  • Platypus 3L Hydration System
  • Marmot Leadville Jacket
  • Camera
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Pad to lay on the rocks
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Reviews

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One of the best trails I've hiked in LA! You go through a canyon, wide plains and along the edge of mountains. A good chunk of the trail is shaded which I appreciated. It took me 2.5hours to complete. I'll be coming back again! Make sure you pack enough water and some snacks.

3 months ago
3 months ago

After having been constantly disappointed with the hiking in LA I was pleasantly surprised with this one! I would definitely recommend doing the longer loop. The loop which is just over 6 miles ended up taking around 2.5 hours in total with a couple of breaks. I would recommend getting an early start as the parking lot fills up quickly and it also gets pretty hot by 10 am or so. Great views of the mountains and ocean!

9 months ago
9 months ago

I did this hike yesterday (April 2017) and now is the perfect time to go! The trees are starting to get new growth, so the bright green and dark green juxtaposed gives even more depth to the Santa Monica Mountains. The trail is fairly easy and partly shaded, but the ascent to the peak requires a little bouldering. There’s planning of parking although the road from the PCH is quite curvy (but beautiful). Highly recommend this trail, the views throughout are stunning!

11 months ago
11 months ago

It's not too hard to climb up the mountain. The view is nice from the peak. It's easy on the way down.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

I love this hike, and i love that there are two routes..one short and easy, the other long. So it's perfect for a full day, or a couple of hours, whichever works best for you :) The view at the top is AMAZING! 360 views of mountain ranges and the pacific ocean. I highly recommend!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

One of the best hikes in The LA area

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Amazing views. I recommend taking the long route. It is worth the extra miles!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

We did this hike while camping at Point Mugu beach. It's a relatively easy hike with incredible views for the entire trail. The other trails part of the Sandstone Peak trail system are just as beautiful as well. Stop by Neptune's Net for a bite to eat to reward yourself after the hike!

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

this was my last hike of 2015 and it was a great went. braved the low temps/high winds and hiked up for the sunrise - the 360 view was completely worth it. cant wait to go back. (is there a way to post photos form the hike? i have a couple shots id like to share)

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

This is a must do hike for anyone in LA. We frequently take our visitors from out of town here. Great description of the hike and area! Also, Yerba Bueno Rd turns off the PCH at Neptune's Net a great surfer/biker stop for over the counter seafood and a cooler packed with cold drinks.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

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