There are more nature getaways in Los Angeles than you might expect. Forget beaches – we’re talking miles of mountain hiking trails. Los Angeles is unique because it’s bisected by the Santa Monica Mountains, and now residents can traverse 67 uninterrupted miles on the National Park Service‘s Backbone Trail.
The Backbone Trail runs from Point Mugu in Malibu to Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades, about 20 miles west of downtown Los Angeles and five miles northwest of Santa Monica. For more than 40 years, people have worked to connect the trail from around 180 land parcels. Much of the land, which was worth over $100 million dollars and spanned multiple cities, was donated or given to the public. Hollywood actor and former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger donated 40 acres of the land.
Now the trail, reachable by the #2 bus and close to the 101 Freeway, allows an escape for residents who want to spend a day or days hiking. It stands apart from other long-distance hiking trails in that it’s still quite close to civilization. Hikers can feel like they’re in the wilderness but only need to go a few miles to reach wineries, restaurants, and grocery stores on canyon roads near the trail.
As of now there aren’t many camping options for hikers who really want to get away. The National Park Service aims to create backcountry campsites so people could eventually hike the entire trail in one go. Another goal is to connect the Backbone Trail to 500 miles of other hiking trails in the Santa Monica Mountains.
The Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, maintained by the National Park Service, is the biggest “urban national park” in the United States. Along with the Backbone Trail, the recreation area includes a Native American culture center and the old Paramount movie ranch.
Images via the National Park Service on Flickr