Tucked away in the heart of the Santa Monica Mountains, the Backbone Trail in Malibu, California, promises an enthralling ride for both beginners and seasoned cyclists. But what sets it apart? Let's navigate the twists, turns, and scenic beauty of this trail.
Starting the Adventure
- Location: Begin this mesmerizing journey by parking at the Kanan Trailhead off Kanan Dume Road. If you're driving from Hwy 101, head 8 miles towards the coast on Kanan Road (exit 36). For those approaching from the Pacific Coast Hwy, a shorter 4.5-mile drive up Kanan leads to the trailhead.
The Trail Itself
- Distance: 17 mi
- Level: Very Easy
- Route Type: Out & Back
From the trailhead, the path unfurls westward on the Backbone Trail, leading cyclists on a series of pivotal waypoints:
- At mile 2.52, a left turn onto a doubletrack beckons.
- A mere 0.11 miles later, a right onto a singletrack challenges cyclists to ascend a hill.
- The road junction at mile 3.17 hides a gem: a left turn here offers a panoramic view of the vast Pacific.
- Another left at mile 3.26 paves the way for an exhilarating singletrack descent.
- Crossroads at miles 4.83 (Encinal Canyon Road) and 6.04 (Mulholland Road) serve as milestones.
- At mile 8.58, the Etz Maloy Motorway presents a choice: end the journey or chase more breathtaking views by venturing another 0.4 miles. Should the journey back seem daunting, consider the alternative shortcut mentioned in the cyclist's notes for a more forgiving return.
What Riders Have to Say
- Scenic Brilliance: Few trails boast the dual allure of mountain and ocean views. The visual spectacle, especially when viewed from a thousand feet above in the Santa Monica Mountains, remains unparalleled.
- Terrain & Difficulty: The trail strikes a harmonious balance, appealing to all skill levels. Its predominantly non-technical singletrack dotted with a hint of fire road makes it accessible to most. Challenges are moderate, with the climb being the most notable.
- Recommendations: Between Etz Malloy and Encinal, riders encounter a particularly fun stretch of singletrack. This descent, combined with the panoramic views, makes it an ideal location for beginner to intermediate riders. As a bonus, the downhill return to the parking lot is a cyclist's delight.
A Word of Caution
It's not just cyclists who frequent this trail. Occasional hikers and horseback riders make an appearance, underscoring the importance of shared trail etiquette.
The Backbone Trail, with its captivating vistas and user-friendly terrain, encapsulates the best of Malibu's natural beauty. Whether chasing the thrill of a descent or basking in the beauty of the Pacific, this trail caters to every cyclist's dream.