Backbone Trail Now Open

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Eight months after the largest fire to ever hit Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA), all 67 miles of the park’s most famous trail have finally reopened to the public. The final six miles of the Backbone Trail that had remained closed since the November fire re-opened on Thursday.

“The Woolsey Fire hit the section of the trail that runs from the Kanan Road trailhead east to Corral Canyon Road particularly hard, destroying 120 feet of retaining wall and littering the trail with dangerous tree limbs,” NPS PIO Kate Kuykendell wrote. “Winter storms further complicated recovery efforts. The National Park Service (NPS) trail crew, with key assistance from the California Conservation Corps and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, worked diligently to make the trail passable and to restore full trail connectivity to the popular trail.”

“We know that the Backbone Trail is one of the most beloved trail experiences in the Los Angeles area and we are delighted to re-open the full network to the public,” said David Szymanski, superintendent of SMMNRA. “The weather is shaping up to be pretty ideal for trail enthusiasts to come check it out.”

Visitors are asked to stay on trails and be aware that numerous safety hazards still exist. Hikers going off trail can cause more damage to newly restored trails, trample new plants, and prevent the re-growth of fragile vegetation.

The Backbone Trail, completed in 2016 after a 40-year effort to acquire the patchwork of land parcels, traverses one of Southern California’s largest remaining tracts of undeveloped landscape, a well-preserved mix of chaparral-covered hillsides, oak woodlands, and rocky outcrop spires. The trail stretches from the city of Los Angeles to Ventura County and crosses California State Parks, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority open space, and National Park Service lands. Plan your hike at

The Woolsey Fire in November 2018 burned 88 percent of all NPS land in the SMMNRA, including 112 miles of trails and more than 30 structures. With the re-opening of the Backbone Trail, only small park sites at Arroyo Sequit, Peter Strauss Ranch, and Rocky Oaks remain closed. The park is currently pursuing a multi-year rebuilding strategy, with facilities at Paramount Ranch as the top priority.

Nearly all NPS trails and parks are now open again, except for Peter Strauss Ranch, Rocky Oaks, and Arroyo Sequit. 


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. A unit of the National Park Service, it comprises a seamless network of local, state and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. As one of only five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, SMMNRA preserves the rich biological diversity of more than 450 animal species and 26 distinct plant communities. For more information, visit


Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at

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