Hike the Backbone Trail via Corral Canyon

Los Angeles Backbone Trail, Corral Canyon Road

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One of the best hiking trails and some of the most astonishing views in Los Angeles.

The backbone trail was a vision that started in the 1980’s. It is a trail that stretches 65 Miles starting in Will Rodgers State Historic Park and ending at Thornhill Broome Beach. It has many entrance and exit points but it is anchored in the middle by the Coral Canyon Trail Head. The full trail is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2016.

To get to the Coral canyon trail head you will take PCH to Malibu and head north of Pepperdine University. The turn out is Corral Canyon Road which has a 76 gas station at its entrance.

You’ll end up driving way to the top through an enormous amount of twists and turns (follow Corral Canyon Road.) It will dead end at a dirt parking lot which has the trail head located at it. There are really two different entrances to the trail because right before the parking lot there is a white gate leading onto a fire road which will also meet up with the trail. (On maps the fire road is the Mesa Peak Motorway)

If you chose to do the BBT portion of it, you will head right at the parking lot, straight up to the ridgeline through rocks, and then back down onto the fire road. The trail can be a bit tricky to follow but if you’re up for it I would suggest doing it because you can get some great shots from the top of the ridge.

The hike itself can be as long as short as you would like and it is one of the best in LA. At 3000 feet above sea level the views are just out of this world. On one side you have Thousand Oaks and the beautiful scenery of the mountains and on the other you have a gorgeous view of the ocean.

The best time for photography here is during golden hour as the light is just phenomenal. Keep your fingers crossed for an epic west coast sunset!

Mountain Biking is possible but not in all areas of the BBT. Check the NPS website to make sure they have completed the area you want to ride.

  • If you are photographing during golden hours make sure to bring warm clothes. The temperature drops quickly as the sun sets
  • Cautions from NPS: The trail is sometimes hard to find through the rocky area east of the Corral Canyon parking lot. You can walk down south from the parking lot to Corral Canyon Road, then continue about .25 miles to the gated Mesa Peak Motorway on your left where the BBT continues east. As you descend towards Malibu Canyon and approach the Las Virgenes Municipal Water property, watch for the small trail to your right which is the BBT, or you'll be stopped by the locked gate.
  • Bring a map: http://www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/upload/BBTMap.pdf

Pack List

  • Water
  • Camera
  • Warm clothes if photographing the sunset
  • Hiking boots or running shoes
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Fitness, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Year Round

Trail Type:



2 Miles

Elev. Gain:

500 Feet



Dog Friendly

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How to Get There

4 months ago


My dog and I had a blast! The views are amazing! We started by the ocean. There is a bathroom by the parking. The parking was $5.00. Make sure you have right shoes! But again amazing!

4 months ago

8 months ago

Mountain Biking Backbone

I've also mountain biked portions of the backbone. We rode out from Kanan Dume in both directions. Each trail is unique with lots of ups and downs. But I would agree...the backbone trail is the best way to get a wilderness experience in the Santa Monica mountains!

8 months ago

Added by Lucas Pols

Photographer with a passion for culture, travel, and exposing those who do good in the world LucasJPolsPhotography.com

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