Imagine trekking across the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains with your faithful canine sidekick at your side. Thanks to the Backbone Trail, this dream can be a reality. Stretching from Point Mugu State Park all the way to Will Rogers Historic State Park, this puptastic trail provides respite from the busy SoCal life.
Since the Backbone Trail crosses various land
jurisdictions, access, trail names, and regulations are not consistent. One of
the most important things to note is that while leashed dogs are permitted on
trails managed by National Parks Service, they are usually restricted on the
California State Parks trails. As a result, you and your pooch won’t be able to hike the entire trail. But don’t worry, there are still miles and miles of
trail available to your four legged hiking buddy. Begin your journey at Mishe Mokwa, Kanan, or Latigo
Trailheads. All of these start within National Park land. It’s always wise to
plan your route and double check regulations, just to be safe. You’ll have an upset pooch on your hands if
you have to turn around and go back to the car.
While making your way across the trail, enjoy the unique
coastal Mediterranean habitat. Your pooch will feel like a regular canine
explorer as they cross through coastal sage scrub, riparian woodlands,
freshwater marshes, and oak woodlands. Watch
for wildlife; critters like coyote, mule deer, red-tailed hawks, lizards, and
snakes all call this place home. Oh, and so do mountain lions. Your doggo will
love the trademark rock formations and sandstone peaks of the Santa Monica
Before setting off on your adventure, make sure you have
plenty of water and snacks, as most trailheads do not have water refill stations. To avoid the muggy heat, plan to hike this
trail in the winter or spring. No matter when you go, your pooch will
simply go mutts over this trail!