Santa Monica Trail Runs

The Santa Monica area has become my home away from home (literally). Fortunately, I live near a number of excellent trailheads. Trails starting from the Temescal Gateway area are good for anywhere form 3 to 70 miles with plenty of elevation gain.

Backbone Trail

The Backbone Trail is a long stretch of double track that runs all the way from Will Rogers to Pt. Mugu, a total of 68 miles. It isn't the most exciting trail, and is often crowded, but you can use sections of it to connect to other trails and great stretches of single track.

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Boney Mountain

Boney Mountain in Pt. Mugu State Park is one of my favorite spots in the Santa Monica mountains. Unfortunately, the area has been dramatically altered by recent fire and rain, but it's still great trail. One of the standard loops is 14 miles with about 2,700' of gain.

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Escondido Falls

Escondido Falls is a short 4 mile, 700' gain, trail out to the tallest waterfall in the Santa Monica Mountains. It's a crowded trail that's almost half road, and the waterfall is usually dry, but it's worth doing at least once.

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Las Virgenes

The New Millenium Loop Trail is a convenient lollipop loop trail around an exclusive enclave of mansions in the Las Virgenes area near Calabasas. Though it's mostly dry, exposed trail, it's good for 13 miles and about 2,400' of gain.

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Leo Carrillo

Leo Carrillo has some great trails that start right at PCH and have some of the best ocean views in the area. The trails here are good for 7-10 miles and a couple thousand feet of steep gain.

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Los Leones Canyon

Los Leones has a couple miles of great singletrack but then is primarily fireroad after that. Santa Ynez Canyon is a much nicer alternative entry to Topanga State Park and Trippet Ranch, but Los Leones is close and convenient!

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Malibu Creek

Malibu Creek is home to one of the most famous sections of trail in the Santa Monica mountains, the four mile, 2,000' climb up Bulldog (actually a fireroad). The loop up to the ridge and back is roughly 14 miles and over 3,200' of gain.

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Pt. Mugu

La Jolla Canyon in Pt. Mugu State Park has some of the best ocean views in Southern CA. The backcountry normally has lush meadows, but the area was recently devasted by the Springs fire. There is a great loop with 12 miles and 2,000' gain.

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Rustic Canyon

Probably the most interesting trail in the area, Rustic Canyon has everything from nice single track to entirely unmaintained trail with creek hopping, bush whacking, and an abanoned Nazi camp from the WWII era. Most of the trail is not runnable, but it makes for a great adventure.

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Sandstone Peak

Sandstone Peak is the highest point in the Santa Monica mountains at 3,111'. There's a nice 6 mile loop that can be done in both directions and combined with several offshoots to make for a great 17 mile, 4,100' gain day.

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Santa Ynez Canyon

Probably my favorite trail in the Santa Monica mountains. A 4 mile out-and-back with about 700' of gain climbing to the ridge above Trippet Ranch in Topanga Canyon. In just minutes you can completely forget you're so close to an urban metropolis.

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Secret Trail

Definitely one of the most fun trails in the area. This secret trail is an unmaintained use trail near Rivas Canyon. It's narrow, steep, crazy, and fun! Most of it is not runnable, but it's a great scramble.

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Temescal Canyon

Temescal Canyon is a short trail that forms half of a loop with the Temescal Ridge trail. It's only a couple miles but has over 800' gain. The trail heads out of the Temescal Gateway and up to a small waterfall.

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Temescal Ridge

Temescal Ridge is the other half of the loop with Temescal Canyon, but is shorter and steeper. The Ridge trail is all about the ocean views, which are non-existent most mornings because of the marine layer, but are jaw dropping on a clear day.

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Temescal Rivas

The Temescal Rivas trail heads up from the Temescal Gateway and then down into Rivas Canyon and out towards Will Rogers State Park. It's an out-and-back trail with about 3 1/2 miles of excellent single track and over 800' of gain.

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Trailer Canyon

The Trailer Canyon trail extends a couple miles from the top of the Temescal Ridge/Canyon loop. It has some great terrain and is a lot of fun on foggy mornings. Combined with Temescal Canyon, it makes for a 7 mile out-and-back with 1,800' of gain.

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Trippet Ranch and Eagle Rock

A popular area in Topanga State Park. You can get to the prominent Eagle Rock via either a (rather boring) fireroad or some great single track. Fortunately, almost everyone takes the fireroad, leaving the single track to the rest of us.

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Unknown Peak

One of my favorite trails in the area. It's not on the map and is evidently an unauthorized use-trail. It heads from the South ridge of Rivas Canyon cross country all the way to the Backbone Trail. It has some great, steep terrain along the way and reaches a prominent peak that is unnamed on the trail map.

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Will Rogers and Inspiration Point

From the end of Temescal Rivas Canyon, you can add a couple more miles by heading into Will Rogers State Historic Park and up to Inspiration Point. Will Rogers, combined with Rivas, makes for a 7 mile run with about 1,400' of gain.

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