Saddle Peak via the Backbone Trail

HARD 141 reviews
#3 of 16 trails in

Saddle Peak via the Backbone Trail is a 9.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Calabasas, California that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as difficult and offers a number of activity options.

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 will enjoy great views of the LA basin and its surroundings.

hiking
3 days 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.

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
5 months ago

hiking
no shade
over grown
5 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
6 months ago

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

hiking
bugs
over grown
8 months ago

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.

8 months ago

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
8 months ago

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
9 months ago

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

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.

10 months ago

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

hiking
muddy
rocky
11 months ago

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
11 months ago

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
11 months ago

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.

hiking
Sat Oct 06 2018

Solid. Didn’t see anyone for 3 hours, other than some rock climbers. Not really one to do solo in hindsight. I went side to side rather than there and back - no WiFi the other end, a few lodges and stuff you can log on.

Mon Jul 30 2018

great trail, shaded and really pretty at the beginning too, wasn't very steep either, took 4 hours, was 97 degrees outside which I don't recommend doing it when it's this hot, closer to 9.5 miles. probably one of my favorite hikes that I've done so far!

hiking
Mon Jul 23 2018

Decent hike with what would be amazing views at the peak (was cloudy when I got to the top), but I arrived at 7:30 am, the marine layer may be better burned off if you start an hour later (8:30 am). Someone mentioned it before, but definitely park in the turnout about 100 ft past the trail head (I was the first car there but by the time I got back there were about 3 behind me so I assume it’s safe to park there). Trail runs about 9.7 miles (the distance mentioned in the main description is incorrect). The first 5 miles is more or less all uphill with the retuning..... you guessed it, all downhill. Overall the hike took me about 4.5 hours (3.5L of water in 87F weather), while seeing a minimal amount of people (which is great!) Feet hurt towards the end as it’s a narrow/rocky trail, but worth it especially you are down for a good work out (2,400 calories burned)

Sat Jun 23 2018

Fantastic hike. The first mile or two you gain a lot of elevation, but after that it's not too bad. Very enjoyable and I'm already planning to hike this one again.

hiking
Mon May 28 2018

Clocked this at 9.6 miles. There are beautiful wildflowers all along the trail and plenty of shaded areas to rest and cool down. The ocean views are stunning. I’d recommend bringing 3 liters of water. The trail is overgrown in many areas and we heard two rattle snakes but didn’t see them so be careful!

hiking
Fri Mar 09 2018

Awesome trail! Great photography possibilities for Los Angeles and the Channel Islands.

running
Sat Feb 24 2018

I believe this trail is 9 miles. I'm not sure how anybody lost the trail. Maybe they've cleaned it up a bit but it was very clear to me. There are even steps up the boulders. There is nothing difficult about this trail. It is moderate at worst. Parking is worth noting...as there doesn't appear to be any. I parked in what looked like a tiny lot a few hundred feet north of the trailhead. My car wasn't told or ticketed so, perhaps it's legal. Having said all that, the payoff at the peak is fantastic. Lovely view of the ocean and San Gabriel Mountains. Nice steady incline throughout. I ran about half the time going up and ran all the way down and it took me 2:45.

running
Sun Jan 07 2018

Stunning views from the ocean to the valley, to Santa Monica, Hollywood and Los Angeles. I suggested a change to the distance - total of 11.27 miles, but I also lost the trail for a bit at the top. Solid 11 out and back. Well worth the journey!

Tue Jan 02 2018

Love this trail. Definitely technical and a tough climb but so worth it.

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