dogs on leash
The Mishe Mokwa Trail is a beautiful, well-maintained trail that takes you through a variety of landscapes and showcases the scenic views of the Santa Monica Mountains. When combined with Tri-Peaks and Sandstone Peaks, the view is improved considerably. This trail takes you from Yerba Buena Road (via Backbone Trail from the second parking lot) to the Mishe Mowka Trailhead and climbs north-west to the shaded Split Rock. Along the way, you'll pass Balanced Rock (on your right). From here, you head west to the (unmaintained) spur to Tri-Peaks. It's 0.5 miles to the summit of Tri-Peaks (3010'), and it's a lot steeper and more rugged than you've come across so far, but it also opens up to arguably the best view on this hike. There's also plenty of rocks to scramble around on, and if you're lucky, a nice breeze to enjoy. When you're done, head back down to the main trail, and make sure to follow the trail markers pointing you towards Sandstone Peak. It's not hard to get turned around here as the trail loops to the east, so if you're headed in the right direction, you should be passing two water tanks to your right. This portion of Backbone Trail continues to climb as you pass Inspiration Point, Boney Peak (in the distance), and then arrive at Sandstone Peak. The climb to the summit (3111') is fairly intense at this point in the hike (5.5 miles in, if you scrambled up to Tri Peaks and back), and it can be a little crowded depending on when you make it here. But you'll be able to read the crazy things people write in the registry, and add your own commentary when you get to the top. When you're done taking in the sights from the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains, scramble back down and make sure you take your immediate right to continue east towards to the trail head. From Sandstone Peak, the trail will begin a steady and sometimes sharp decline, as you lose close to 1000' of the elevation you gained getting here in 1.5 miles. If you parked in the second lot, make sure to pass the first marker (signifying the Sandstone Peak Trailhead), and return to the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead, before turning right and heading back to Yerba Buena Road.