by Charlotte Parry
The Conejo Valley now has a National Recreation Trail right on its doorstep following the inauguration in June of the newly completed, 67 mile long Backbone Trail. After 40 years of incremental land acquisitions, some final donations made the completion of the trail possible in this, the centennial year of the National Park Service. There are a number of trail heads near the Conejo Valley which means you can get easy access for day hikes.
At the western end off of PCH, park at the La Jolla Canyon parking lot in Pt Mugu State Park. Hike up the Ray Miller Trail which connects to the Backbone Trail from where you will get awesome ocean views.
The highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Sandstone Peak, is also on the Backbone Trail. You can access this from the parking lot off Yerba Buena Road and enjoy a four plus mile out and back hike or include the Mishe Mokwa trail to make a longer loop. Also on Yerba Buena Road, from a dirt pull off, you can hike the trail as it traverses Triunfo Pass for fabulous views of Boney Mountain and back into Thousand Oaks.
Another access point is at 1689 Kanan Dume Road. This offers a hike into the beautiful, lush Newton Canyon and a view of the Zuma Canyon falls. Or if you head east, you can follow the trail towards Latigo Canyon and Castro Crest. You can also get to the trail at Latigo Canyon Road and Encinal Canyon Road.
A convenient access point closer to Calabasas on Las Virgenes Road is the Tapia parking lot (just beyond the junction with Piuma Rd if you are driving from the 101). Here you can hike to the top of Mesa Peak via the Backbone Trail–a 1500 foot climb but worth it for the ocean and canyon views.
For more information: https://www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/mapsforbackbonetrail.htm
Charlotte Parry is Executive Director of the Santa Monica Mountains Fund, the official non-profit of the National Park Service in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.