Last updated: 01:09 PM ET, Wed June 01 2016

A New Hiking Trail Is Opening In Los Angeles, And It’s 67 Miles Long

Destination & Tourism | Rich Thomaselli | June 01, 2016

A New Hiking Trail Is Opening In Los Angeles, And It’s 67 Miles Long

PHOTO: The Backbone Trail (Photo courtesy National Park Service)

How many times have you been caught in the notorious nightmare of Los Angeles traffic only to think, “I could walk faster.”

Now you just might.

The newly-completed Backbone Trail will open with a special ceremony on Saturday, June 4, extending from Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades, Calif., all the way through the Santa Monica Mountains to Point Mugu State Park in Malibu.

That’s 67 of the most glorious miles you will ever see – not as long as the famous Appalachian Trail in the eastern part of the U.S., but certainly one of the most beautiful.

And, without a doubt, a mecca for tourists and locals alike who can now hike the trail between the two state parks without running into trespassing issues. You see, where once you could blame celebrities for buying up huge chunks of land and making them private, cutting off access to the Trail at certain points, now you can thank them.

Opening the trail from beginning to end was made possible by Academy Award-winning director James Cameron, who sold his 703-acre parcel along the trail in 2014 to the National Park Service for just $12 million – practically nothing considering the L.A. real estate market – and by actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and fitness guru Betty Weider, who together donated the final 40 acres needed to make Backbone Trail a reality.

That ended almost 50 years of work by various entities in trying to piece together both ends of the Backbone. According to the Los Angeles Times, work began on the Trail in the late 1960s when the Park Service, California Department of Parks and Recreation, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority began purchasing parcels of land both public and private to help develop the trail.

In fact, the government agencies purchased 180 separate pieces of land over four-plus decades to not only build the trail, but also bought pieces of land around it to prevent private construction that would obstruct views from Backbone Trail.

Although you might see a mountain lion or rattlesnake – or, more likely, they will see you first but rarely strike, especially if you’re in a group – the Backbone Trail is never very far from urban sprawl. As Gizmodo noted in a great article, the Trail itself is never more than a few miles from the 101 Freeway, and there are numerous businesses – restaurants, grocery stores, etc. – that run north-south on canyon roads through the east-west Backbone Trail. In fact, at one point, the eastern trailhead is easily accessible by bus – go figure – and it’s easy enough along most of the route to hike down to Ventura Boulevard and catch a bus or train back home.


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