Saddle Peak via the Backbone Trail

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Malibu Creek State Park

Saddle Peak via the Backbone Trail is a 9.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Calabasas, California that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as difficult and is primarily used for hiking, running, rock climbing, and bird watching.

Distance: 9.2 miles Elevation Gain: 2,283 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

rock climbing

bird watching

running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

Saddle peak is the second highest in the Santa Monica Mountains after Sandstone Peak. After a moderately difficult climb, you will reach the peak where you can enjoy great views of the LA basin and its surroundings.

hiking
no shade
2 days ago

It was hot today!

hiking
2 months ago

Pretty moderate trail—doable for me and my brother, we are relatively in shape (he also had really bad shin splints and still did the whole thing). Very beautiful trail with great views on a clear day—at the peak, we could see all the way to downtown LA! The trail did not have many good places to stop and rest but did have a lot of shade and felt relatively secluded. Cool wood/forest-like areas mixed in with grassy fields and rock formations.

hiking
2 months ago

Unexpected delight. Perfect for a cool clear day. Saw very few other people. The elevation gain was very manageable--lot of flat parts. Of note, no parking at the trail head---I parked on a patch of grass 2 minutes south of the entrance.

Great scenery all around. Not overgrown. Very green. Lots of shade. Only saw one tick. Very good to train on. Saw some little kids at the top. Difficult but very doable.

Great hike with nice amount of shade. But definitely was much warmer and sunnier coming down. We started down around noon. Trail is very clear and no overgrowth. Steady climb to the top. Beautiful views especially at the top.

Great hike. Major payoff at the top...but it is discouraging to see after 2+ hours a faster way to get there where the trail connects with a road. Beautiful views though. Didn’t see a soul...

hiking
bugs
no shade
4 months ago

My boyfriend and I really enjoyed this trail a lot and we didn’t even get to finish it due to time/sunlight restrictions, which leads me to wanting to go back to finish it another time. I can only speak of the portion we did but it’s a rustic single track which you are ascending pretty much the entire time until you turn around and head back (or at least the portion we did- refer to our recording). I would agree that it’s on the easy level of a “hard” level, because it was all uphill, but it was gradual so not terribly steep, but yeah, you’ll feel like you’re working out and will earn that pizza afterwards. The scenery and views were gorgeous panoramic views of the SM mountains and even further out, and we didn’t even get to the Peak! It’s probably a good idea to do this trail when it’s a little cooler outside as there isn’t a ton of shade on the trail, so just be prepared with lots of water and sunscreen/hat. We saw 4 people in a group the entire time. It didn’t look like there was much for parking, but we found a residential street with a house at Woodbluff Rd and Piuma and parked along there and carefully walked along the twisting road to the trailhead, about 1/4 a mile or less.

hiking
4 months ago

Surprisingly lovely trail just a short drive from the Santa Monica area. Moves in and out of shade throughout the moderately difficult ascent. Not *over*grown, but you will brush some branches along the way. Today, just a few days after a rainstorm, I had amazingly clear views, up and down the coast and to the islands. Most of the hike is on the inland side of the range, so you're looking out towards hills and other mountains. But at the very end, you open up to the coastal side, and it is fan-tastic. I parked at a little pulloff just 50yards or so past the tralhead. Only saw a handful of other hikers.

hiking
4 months ago

Between medium and hard difficulty. Solid views 2/3's of the way up with one of the best views in the LA area on top. Trail in great condition and minimal foot traffic.

Started the year (Jan 1, 2020) on this fantastic hike. Parked on Piuma at mile marker 107, trailhead is a 100 feet or so down the road on the left. Trail was a bit overgrown about 1 mile in but not an issue at all. I typically take Stunt Road trail up to Saddlepeak but wanted to take on the 1,000 feet+ additional elevation gain and 5+ miles on this approach. Nice combo of shade and sun until you get to the top.

Best views of the Valley, downtown, islands and the Santa Monica Bay down to RPV. Never seen views quite like this from the Santa Monica Mtns. Easy up and down hike. Found a geocache at the Roost.

hiking
over grown
9 months ago

hiking
no shade
over grown
9 months ago

Great trail with very rewarding panoramic views. It is on the more easy side of the labeled ‘hard’ difficulty as far as physical capability. Trail was pretty overgrown for about 3 miles and some spots here and there for the rest of the way. Patchy shade more so about 4 miles in, otherwise plan on being in full sun. Would do again!

hiking
over grown
10 months ago

Poorly maintained,gets worse the further in you go,abandon the idea

hiking
bugs
over grown
Wed May 08 2019

The trail was pretty overgrown. Walking through lots of eye level plants. Saw some ticks at the start, though it wasn't too bad. The view was well worth it though. You can see most of LA and Long Beach.

Thu May 02 2019

Better to extend the hike by starting at Mulholland Hwy and continuing until the boundary of Topanga Park... roughly 14.5 miles and 3,000 ft elevation gain... worth the extra work. the middle section is overgrown in places with grass and mustard. Best to start early in the morning.

hiking
Wed May 01 2019

I did the trail last week and was surprised by how much of it was in the shade of trees and shrubs. Due to the large amount of rain the Los Angeles area received this year, the trail is quite overgrown in some areas. Lots of poison oak! Wildflowers were very abundant. It’s a very scenic and beautiful trail. The only real negative I have to say is that it is not well marked in a number of areas and can be quite confusing on were it starts, continues, or which fork in the trail to take.

hiking
bugs
over grown
Sat Apr 20 2019

We returned after a mile in because of ticks. Found a dozen of them on both me and my wife :(

hiking
Sat Mar 30 2019

A bit boring but typical of Santa Monica mountain trails. View on top is excellent though. Lots of flowers along the way and a good look towards Malibu Creek in places.

Sun Feb 24 2019

A little too easy given the rating. But very pretty rt now due to the recent rain.

hiking
muddy
rocky
Tue Feb 19 2019

Amazing hike! Highly recommend. Definitely on the moderate side of strenuous, mostly just long. The most difficult part is the first 1/3 of the trail going up as it is the steepest incline and you don’t have much shade. After that it’s a gradual incline and your rewarded with amazing views of Malibu canyon, beautiful boulder formations, and caves to explore in and around. By far the highlight of this trek is the treasure of a view you find at the top. One of the best views I’ve seen in LA- you’re able to see a near 360 view of the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys, the San Gabriel mountain range (with snow!), downtown LA, Long Beach, Santa Monica, a LARGE stretch of the Pacific, and Catalina Island. My girlfriend and I were super lucky and got to take this in on a crystal clear day.

hiking
muddy
Sat Feb 09 2019

Excellent hike today, 2/9/19. Not impacted by the Woolsey fire, you could see burned hills in the distance already turning green. We started just after a Thunderstorm blew through so it was very muddy in spots but got better when we climbed higher and better coming down, after a few hours in the sun. It was surprisingly green with grass, bushes and some flowers starting to bloom. We learned the top is up by the cell and microwave towers. Great views of Santa Monica Bay. The weather was cool and a little breezy at times. Been hiking So. Cal mountains for 35 years and this was my first time. Awesome hike. Great training hike for something bigger. Highest recommendation.

hiking
Tue Jan 29 2019

Creds: AllTrails Pro. 9.1mi and 2,400’ el gain. This hike is East of past Malibu Woolsey Fire and not impacted. There are sections with dead trees mixed in with live growth. Think heat wave in 2018 killed a lot of flora. Low key trailhead. Have to park off st. Since no designated parking. Started Monday 28 Jan 2019 7:45am. Light overcast with some blue skies- perfect for hiking. This is a real trail (not fire road). Pretty hike with steady incline. As you reach Saddle Peak, you are rewarded with First amazing views of South Bay and Catalina Island, Mt Baldy, San Jacinto Mountain, Angeles National Forest...360 views. Recommend hike

Mon Oct 29 2018

Moderate intensity but views are totally worthy! We started at 10:00 am and was a little hot. I recommend to start earlier, because the round trip takes about 4 hours if you stop to take pictures and the sun is really strong while going back. Otherwise, amazing!!!

hiking
Mon Oct 08 2018

Good trail, easy to follow. Moderate intensity on the way up. It was more like 10 miles round trip and took me 3hrs and 30mins. Nice views from the top of the ocean and the valley.

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