NPS Announces Lottery Dates for Guided Backbone Trail Hike

A view of Backbone Trail. Photo courtesy Suzanne Guldimann

Members of the public interested in experiencing the 67-mile Backbone Trail across the Santa Monica Mountains will soon be able to have a chance to apply for the National Park Service’s (NPS)15th annual group-led hike of the trail. The lottery for the hike, which takes place over eight Saturdays in the winter and spring of 2018, will be open September 20 to 30, 2017.

“By doing it in segments over the course of four months, the hike is like a field study class, allowing closer examination of the most intriguing resources while seeing the seasonal changes occur right in front of us” explained Ralph Waycott, a National Park Service volunteer who has been co-leading the hike for more than 10 years.

The hike speed is considered moderate with a handful of breaks for short discussions on botany, geology, geography, local Native American tribes, and more, in addition to water and food stops.

Each segment is an average of 8.5 miles with 3,200 feet of elevation gain and loss. The hike is scheduled to begin at the western trailhead in Point Mugu State Park on Saturday, January 13, 2018, and end at the eastern trailhead in Will Rogers State Historic Park on Saturday, April 28, 2018 (two extra Saturdays in May are scheduled as rain dates). Attendance is required at a hiker orientation on the morning of Saturday, October 28, 2017.

To learn more and apply, go to the Backbone Trail lottery application website beginning Monday, September 20, 2017. Selection is limited to 28 participants.

Additionally, hike leaders will host a casual Backbone Trail Q&A drop-in session this Saturday, September 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors interested in the group-led hike or hiking, biking, or horseback riding the trail on their own are welcome to stop by and gather information from Backbone Trail veterans.

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.

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