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Backbone Trail: Will Rogers to Temescal Ridge

 33 votes


13.8 Miles 22.2 Kilometers




2,071' 631 m


-2,091' -637 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (11°)

2,064' 629 m


453' 138 m



All Clear 27 days ago
Dry: Overgrown in some sections History

Getting forecast...

An amazing out-and-back over the Pacific, this Santa Monica classic has a little of everything.

David Gregg


Mildly technical rocky sections, smooth flowy turns, tree weaving, straight, fast, ridge-top speed... Backbone has it all. It's all singletrack with a few sections of doubletrack. No fire roads... AT ALL.

The terrain is classic Santa Monica mountain; crumbling rock and shale chips, large amounts of coastal and desert plant life, the smell and feel of the ocean nearby. The views of the ocean are stunning, and on clear days, the ring of mountains around SoCal can be seen clearly, along with great views of downtown LA and Hollywood.


From the top of Inspiration Loop Trail, within the grounds of Will Rogers State Historic Park, you'll find a kiosk standing post beside an uphill singletrack, branching north around a hillside. The trail is narrow, so be sure to slow or stop for the large amount of hikers in the first mile. DO NOT BOMB THE HIKERS ON THE WAY BACK DOWN! The local community is wary of bikes here and are easily upset by your passing. BE RESPECTFUL. There are those who would like to ban us from the park.

After a tough climb, one mile from the kiosk, a bridge spans a particularly bad part of the ridge line. By law, you must walk your bike across the bridge and up the steep rock face just beyond it. (I know a guy who says he saw a ranger at the top watching one day)

About 1.5 miles up trail from the bridge there's a left-hand bend in the trail and a large oak tree near a drop-off. Under the shade of its branches is a large space and, with a commanding view of the valley beyond, is a great place to take a break.

What follows is roughly a mile of very pleasant, easy slope in the shade, to a mixed section of ups and downs, to a butt-kicking mile-plus of loose-pebble, rut-divided, sun-exposed slope from hell. Just when you've had enough, it ends. A short, steep downhill bends left, to the west, along the base of a left-hand hillside. Now in the shade, the trail takes on a different feel. There are more plants, and the dirt is darker, softer, and for about 3/4ths of a mile the trail is flat and easy. The trail narrows to a left-hand corner and to a sign "Backbone Trail - the hub" pointing left. This last section is super fun. Full of tight turns and thin tree trunks, it has a very nice flow. Too bad it's only a half-mile.

Well, that's it. The trail dumps out onto a wide, boring fire road, Temescal Ridge Trail, that spans away left and right. These connect to many other roads in the area and can be combined to form very long loops, but that's another day.

Turn around and re-trace the trail back to the car, but remember: DON'T BOMB THE HIKERS!!!


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Apr 13, 2018
Michael Sauvage
Apr 12, 2018
Mike Mayer
First ride in LA! Awesome 16mi
Mar 30, 2018
Josh Hein
Mar 30, 2018
Dewey Thomason
14.6mi — 2h 45m
Mar 23, 2018
Jeff Kirkpatrick
Jan 13, 2018
Kevin Gralewski
Jan 11, 2018
Ethan M Life
Nov 11, 2017
Ben Spivey

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 33 votes


in Santa Monica


  4.0 from 33 votes
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in Santa Monica


in California


868 Views Last Month
27,332 Since Mar 15, 2014
Intermediate Intermediate

be careful saw a big mtn lion on the trail today. Dec 12, 2015

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