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The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area or SMMNRA, is a United States National Recreation Area containing many individual parks and open space preserves, located primarily in the Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California. The SMMNRA is located within the greater Los Angeles region, with two thirds of the parklands in northwest Los Angeles County, and the remaining third including a Simi Hills extension in southeastern Ventura County, California.

trail running
22 hours ago

I've done this a few times and it's simply an excellent trail loop. Here are my observations and thoughts.

I park at the Backbone Trail entrance (east) and take the Mishe Mokwa trail up to the peak. I stop for a quick snack at Split Rock then push all the way to the water towers. If you take the little trail up behind the towers (it's very short) you will find a nifty place to sight see, eat and hydrate. Every time I've stopped here, I was the only one there. Careful up on that rock, there's literally a cliff on all but one side. You won't be walking away from a misstep there.

Next stop is Inspiration Point. The view to the south is the same as Sandstone without all the people and alot more room to "stretch out". There is a plaque dedicated to a young scout named William R. Plants.

Next stop is of course Sandstone. Expect a little simple scrambling to get to the actual summit from the Backbone Trail. There is plaque honoring W. Herbert Allen and a book you can sign.

Now you need to make a decision if you run this trail counterclockwise. Continue down Backbone Trail to the east back the car or go back the way you came. If you want a little bit more challenge and/or just want to be on the trail longer, go back the way you came. It comes out to about 8.5 miles and 2000ft gain as an out and back from the Backbone/Mishe trailhead.

A few notes.

- A good 1/3 of the entire loop has alot of stones as the trail surface. Minimalist trail running shoe wearers just be aware of that.

- WATER! A little Yeti Rambler isn't going to cut it. Take more than what you THINK you need.

- Trekking poles or a hiking stick proves useful, especially on the rocky descent.

- There can be alot of bugs around Split Rock. Consider some insect repellent or just bail out of there if you need too. Might be worse when there is more available water for them to breed...

- From the western edge of Mishe Mokwa, you won't have much shade and you can get cooked pretty quick. Water tanks, Inspiration, Boney and Sandstone Peaks are all pretty much zero shade as well.

- Water. Yea I said that already but you will be amazed at how many go up without ANY water.

Just hiked this a few days ago. our friends forgot to bring their own water, so BRING WATER!

So far our summer hikes have been at the higher elevations where it’s usually cooler. But this weekend we opted to head towards Malibu and explore Solstice Canyon. I knew this was a popular spot with some of the trails being on exposed hills, so we got there early before the crowds and the heat.

We arrived just before 7 am and there was still plenty of parking. Our options were to head straight to the falls via the Solstice Canyon Trail, an easy walk down a paved fire road, or to head up the stairs to the right and take the Rising Sun Trail which climbs upward on more rugged terrain. We opted for the later. Just a few feet in we were already getting some nice views of the pacific. The morning light was gorgeous and it reflected a beautiful golden hue on the summer wildflowers along the trail. It was still early in the morning, but the exposed hills had us working up a good sweat. As we reached the crest, the first view of what remains of Tropical Terrace mansion became visible down in the canyon. This mansion was built in the 1950s, but it burned down in 1982 in a wildfire. As we began to descend down into the canyon towards the ruins, we could hear the waterfall and the vegetation became noticeably greener.

We spent some time exploring Tropical Terrace and the small but very pretty Solstice Canyon waterfall. Afterwards, we walked south along the paved Solstice Canyon trail for a quick minute to pick up the Sostomo Trail. The Sostomo Trail took us straight up on a less maintained more difficult trail to some very pretty views of the whole canyon and the pacific ocean. We passed the ruins of a few more cabins along the way, dropped down in the the canyon and rock hopped over the creek a few times and eventually reached the junction of the Deer Valley Loop. The Deer Valley Loop took us up even higher where we were able to get a birdseye view of Point Dume. There were some parts of the loop that leveled off and opened up to meadows full of golden wildflowers and also beautiful Oaks. This area was covered in white butterflies. I believe they were Cabbage Whites, but they kept us company almost our entire time on these two trails. I should note some of the other butterflies I saw here which were Swallowtails, Skippers and Marine Blues.

After finishing the loop, we met back up with the Sostomo Trail and headed back the way we came. It was about 10:30 am and now the crowds were starting to arrive. We passed a few sweaty hikers who asked us if the climb was worth it. It was actually pretty hot by this time, so a few of them decided to turn back.

Once back down, we finished the hike on the Solstice Canyon Trail. (I actually don’t have any photos from this part of the hike because when I was downloading the images, some of the files got corrupted. Not sure what happened there, but thankfully the rest of the photos were fine.)

Overall, I really enjoyed this hike and the change of scenery. I would definitely like to come back and do this one in the spring when everything is green, as I’m sure it would be full of different species of butterflies and the hills would be even prettier.

Great hike wish it was better marked

Wide, Open, HOT and Sunny trail. #worthit #sunscreen

Love this trail and need to hike it more often. The 360 degree views from Sandstone Peak are amazing.