Hike the Backbone Trail via Kanan Dume

Los Angeles Backbone Trailhead - Kanan Dume Road

  • Activities:

    Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    672 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

From Kanan Dume Road to Latigo Canyon, enjoy scrub jays and other songbirds, sagebrush, oak canopies, ferns, and wildflowers for a good hike with decent mileage on a well-maintained trail. It's fairly dry, no standing water. So, no bugs!

Fair warning, it can get very hot in Malibu, especially in the summer or fall.

We started at the Kanan Dume Road lot. It fills up quick, both directions offer beautiful hiking, but most people tend to go west, it seems. While that's beautiful, you end on a decent uphill, so if hiking is new or challenging to you, consider that. Oh hey, I'm writing about another section of the trail anyway!

First, pay a visit to the vault toilet (not a bathroom, it's different, I swears it. Then, head back to the parking lot. From there, head south and immediately go uphill. The trail takes you over the tunnel and soon you're under a canopy of California live oak. Follow the path.

It's impossible to get lost, the trail is very well defined and where it intersects with anything is private property or loops back around on itself in short order. This allows you to move at your own pace and really get to enjoy what you're looking at: vineyards, other peaks, the ocean, the forest floor.

The canopy, roughly two miles in, opens up and the tree-cover is mostly gone, while a few tall bushes provide some protection from the sun.

After a couple hundred yards of steady incline, you'll reach the end of this section of the trail. You can tell you're there because you hit the hardball (or asphalt road, blacktop, Latigo Canyon Road...) and see the Latigo Canyon Trailhead sign, where it informs you that it's 2.3 miles to the Kanan Trailhead (if you don't step off to take pictures at vista points, but why wouldn't you?).

Enjoy your accomplishment, remember to drink more water, turn around, and go back. When you're done, head over to Mulholland Highway, drive the Snake, and go hit up The Old Place. You'll eat the best grilled cheese sandwich ever. With a beer. In my case, their seasonal hefeweizen.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Snack
  • Broad-brim at
  • Sunscreen (apply before stepping off)
  • Sunglasses
  • Trail shoes
  • Something long-sleeved (depending on the weather)
  • Pocketknife and FitBit (optional but hey!)
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Reviews

Overall rating: 

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Starts very steep as you leave the main parking lot and head up and over Kaanan. Then a series of up and down sections which are pretty epic to ride. There is fairly good uphill climb but overall worth it.

11 months ago
11 months ago

Charlie Jasper

Creator of Grubbing with Grizzly, we strive to bring the campground to the kitchen, and the kitchen to the campground. I love California.

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