Backbone Trail in Malibu - TRAIL

Backbone Trail in Malibu - Trail, Malibu, California

Great mix of fire road climbing, singletrack speed, rocky technical sections, and lush scenery. Best in the Santa Monica's. From the trail head, climb west to Castro Peak, towards the antennae. The fire road you want to stay on follows the ridge line (Castro Crest), rounds the south side of the peak under the antennae, then drops sharply to a saddle on the west side of a box canyon. Take the singletrack to the west, which leads through Newton Canyon to Latigo Canyon Road and is about 2 miles of (mostly) downhill fun. Cross latigo and continue down to Kanan Dume. This section of trail is over grown thanks to El Nino, but still fun. Turn around at Kanan Dume and double back to the saddle at Castro Crest. From there, take the singletrack down and to the right, into the bowl. CORBA did a great job fixing this trail in the spring, the result is buff singletrack in a lush valley with sections that challenge good riders but are easily walked by the less skilled. The last mile is an easy climb back to your car and your frosty cold beverages.

User Reviews (33)

Showing 1-10 of 33  
emjayel   Weekend Warrior [Mar 11, 2012]

The trail description is a bit confusing because there are many trailheads for this trail.

I chose to ride from the trailhead on Las Virgenes Road. Trailhead is just west of Piuma Road - it's just a pullout/parking area.

The trail has got a bit of everything in it: singletrak, climbs to make you wonder about your sanity, technical bits to make all but the best at least dab if not hop off and walk a few feet, exposed sun climbs, beautiful canopy covered flats, great vistas.

What it doesn't have is a well marked trail. Expect that you might get lost. Ask other users on the trails. It's an out and back ride so take note of landmarks for the return journey.

I had planned to get to Latigo Road, but fell short of that goal and did not make it. The opening climb took a lot out of me, I guess.

Overall Technical Rating of 3, but there are some 4's in to keep life interesting

Customer Service

From trailhead prepare for a grueling climb. The actual trailhead is a tad confusing to find. fuddle about a bit and once you get to up out of the parking lot it gets clearer. Once on the trail proper, the first bit is wide singletrak. Rocky and loose at times...in fact when I was coming back down it I was surprised that I'd managed to make it UP to begin with.

You'll come out on a fireroad. Pause and take a look around so you remember where to peel off when you return in a few hours. Now head up. Just. Keep. Going. Up. The only good news is that the climb is punctuated by drainage flats so there are mini breaks. Bear right when you can, staying on major trail/fireroad of Coral Canyon/Mesa Peak Road. Once you hit tarmac (Castro Motorway), turn right until pavement ends less than 1/4 mile later. In the parking area, look left for the trail to drop down into the canyon. Singletrak for the next 4 miles or so. Here's where it can get technical enough to make even reasonably good rider dab or dismount. Plenty of chainring gouges to prove it. I turned around as the trail started to climb. Ride length: 16 miles, Time 2.5 hours

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
MRP Roller   Downhiller [Apr 25, 2009]

Great trail so close to the city. Some great single track, especially after a light rain that waters down the dust. Uphills are just long enough to make you hate them if you love to just ride downhill and just long enough to make you love them if you are an XC head.

Customer Service

Park in the dirt lot on the right about 8 miles in if you are headed from PCH. Head out on the trail head that starts in the lot. Once you climb out of the first downhill section take the single track that is across the fire road and to the right. its a nice long trail that starts steep and levels out for a great ride.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
rc140   Weekend Warrior [Oct 26, 2008]

Great rolling single trak, climbs are just long enough to make you suffer a bit. Great scenery. A+, especially when everything is green.

Customer Service

We like starting just above Malibu Country Club. A great 20+ minutes of really cool single trak before you get to Kanan 3rd tunnel (actually the tunnel is marked T-1).

Similar Products Used: Chesebro, Boney, Tapia Park over Camp David Gonzales.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
me109   Cross Country Rider [Aug 23, 2007]

This is what I would call the definition of an XC trail. Lots of ups and downs with some mild technical stuff throughout. Started at the Kanan Tunnel trailhead and rode to Corral canyon (i think?) parking lot, then back.

Lots of fast sections on the return trip. lots of rocky parts. some of the climbing sections can be killer and they last just long enough to make you hate it.

Customer Service

Take Kanan Dume south from 101 and park at 3rd tunnel parking lot. Grab the trail that starts pointing directly south. Right from the start its a short killer uphill climb up and over the tunnel heading east. From here it is a couple (2-3) miles of solid XC singletrack, mostly up. Cross Latigo canyon rd and pick up the trail again on the left side of the parking lot. Climb another couple of miles of XC single track that is a little more technical than the previous section. End up at a FR. you will see a peak (castro peak?) and antenna towers to the left. Cross FR veering a little right and pick up a single track down. 1st mile down is rocky with some tight switchbacks and then turns into some really cool fast dry creek bed type of single track with lots of rocks to just fly over. Another 1.8 miles brings you to a parking lot. I think this is Corral Canyon? Then back out the way I came in.

Similar Products Used: Sullivan canyon. Cheseboro. Viper. Backbone to Will Rogers.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
thobry   Cross Country Rider [Dec 11, 2005]

Awesome trail conditions. (full parking lot too). Most of the gnarly ruts from last winters rains are filled in which makes for a better ride. only a couple stream crossings. Some of the bushes could be trimmed back. Overall this is a really fun trail network!

Customer Service

Parked at Kanan/Backbone trail head. Head west cross Latigo and continue up to Castro peak... turn around and up Bull dog, back down and head home. about 12.5 miles

Similar Products Used: chesebro!
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
cvigeland   Cross Country Rider [Mar 28, 2005]

I rode the Backbone from Coral to Kanan on Sunday 3/27. It's mostly dry now, but your bike will get pretty muddy from the stream crossings. There are a few washout areas, but considering the extent of the rain and the condition of other local trails (like Sullivan Cyn, for instance) this trail is remarkably dry and intact.

OVERALL
RATING
0
VALUE
RATING
0
smichels   Cross Country Rider [Mar 01, 2005]

has anyone riden since the rain? How are the trails holding up?

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
rcaine   Weekend Warrior [Dec 18, 2004]

Just wanted to give some info on the anti-NPS ranger sign and the big maximum security style fences avec razor wire that straddle a fine fireroad... Came across these signs and thought what the #@!*&^ last spring. Turns out there is a multimillionaire radio broadcaster (owns a conglomerate of radio stations) who wants to build a vacation house on top of the mountain. There is a whole article about this in the LA Times that details what an a-whole this guy is, and how he treats these legal battles where he becomes the victor over public interests, neighbors, and anyone who stands in his way as a form of sport. I wish I could remember his name, but I felt free to shimmy underneath his monstrous barriers. I didn't find the silky singletrack that everyone talks about, but I didn't really look that hard.

Customer Service

I went South/East from the Corral Canyon parking lot and played on the pseudo-slick rock and had a blast. Will actively search out the single track to the North/West next time

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
3
TO-joe   Cross Country Rider [Mar 26, 2004]

We rode here last weekend (march 21), looking for the elusive (to us anyway) single track loop. We parked at the dirt lot on Latigo Cyn Rd and rode up to the saddle. From there, we rode up the fire road to the antennae, and we came upon the private property barriers. We were just out looking for fun and exercise and hadn't any intentions of breaking the law. But after that ride up, and seeing that there was a little footpath around the upper side of the barrier, we weren't about to turn back. So we guiltily lifted our bikes around and kept riding up (quickly) and around the next barrier. We got to the top and there was a little single track leading up to a decent view of the area, but it was a decoy trail. So we headed on down the fire road and came to a 3 way intersection with a signpost. We turned right and descended down what i believe to be Bulldog Motorway. Great views in all directions and cool rock formations on which to take a breather. Then down the road to a (surprisingly full) parking area on the right. Then down a single track into the valley, across a fire road and then several stream crossings. Then up, up back to the saddle area, back down the killer rocky descent and up to our cars at the Latigo Lot. A great ride. We had finally found a loop from the saddle (usually we park at Kanan and we're too tired after climbing to the saddle to keep going up or explore unknown downhills) Too bad we had to trespass across private property to enjoy it. Does anyone know of another way around?

Customer Service

Parked at dirt lot on Latigo Cyn Rd. Rode up Backbone to "the saddle" Rode up the fire road below antennae, around private property barriers, down the fire road and right at the intersection. Down Bulldog, right at the parking lot back down onto a single track. Stay on the single track all the way back up to the saddle, then down the rocky section and back up to the parking area on Latigo.

Similar Products Used: start at tunnel T3 on Kanan and ride up over the tunnel and up to Latigo parking area.
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
bitter traveler   Cross Country Rider [Feb 17, 2004]

does anyone have any info on the 'private property' barriers at the top of the fire trail at the end of corral canyon drive? i drove up this weekend to ride here and there are HUGE fences with barbed wire and multiple signs warning about no trespassing("this especially applies to NPS Rangers"). someone scratched 'southland corp. sucks' on one of the signs. i don't know if this is the southland corporation that owns the 7-11 franchise or the southland incorporated operating out of irvine. in any event, isn't this NPS land? how can a corporation mandate no trespassing on what looks to be some awesome hills and trails? is this a recent development? it ruined my day. thanks for any info.

OVERALL
RATING
2
VALUE
RATING
3
Showing 1-10 of 33  

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