Backbone Trail - Hiking L.A. - Los Angeles magazine

Backbone Trail

Backbone Trail bridge
Photograph by Dustin Snipes
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    Ocean Views
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    City Views
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Moderate, 3.6-mile round-trip, 800-foot elevation gain

Although humorist Will Rogers never met a man he didn’t like, apparently there were a few too many men in Beverly Hills, even in the 1920s. So he rode off for the wilds of Pacific Palisades, where he owned land in Rustic Canyon. The ranch house, polo field, and stable building (complete with rotunda) he built are now part of Will Rogers State Historic Park, the easternmost jumping-off point for the 65-mile cross-mountain route known as the Backbone Trail. Beyond Inspiration Point the Backbone climbs steadily into Topanga State Park, delivering clear-day views from Catalina to the San Gabriels, with clusters of buildings along Wilshire Boulevard rising like glass-and-steel hoodoos. It doesn’t take long before your focus shifts to the expanse of chaparral that stretches toward Topanga, almost 11 miles from the ranch. Along Chicken Ridge a bridge crosses a gap, a good turnaround spot for a nearly four-mile round-trip. Or keep going and, like Will Rogers, leave the city behind—at least for a while. View map.

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