Mishe Mokwa & Backbone Trail Loop

Malibu, California


  Sandstone Peak, California

Sandstone Peak, California

  Tri-Peaks, California

Tri-Peaks, California

The Mishe Mokwa and Backbone trails are all part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.  Combine both trails, and you a have a great loop that includes sites you may have heard of: Sandstone Peak (highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains), Tri-Peaks, Inspiration Point, and Balanced Rock.

The full loop will be a little over 6 miles of hiking with about 1600 feet of elevation gain.  You can see a map of both trails by clicking HERE.  If you're going to do the full loop, I'd recommend starting the hike from the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead, explore Tri-Peaks (an additional 1 mile roundtrip), check out Sandstone Peak, and then complete the loop along the Backbone Trail.  Tri-Peaks has many unique rock formations and cliff edges to explore.  On a clear day, you can even see some of the Channel Islands from Tri-Peaks and its much, much less crowded than Sandstone Peak.  Hiking out to Inspiration Point and Balanced Rock aren't worth it to me.  

For a shorter hike, Sandstone Peak is still pretty cool.  Start at the Sandstone Peak Trailhead and hike straight up.  I promise you'll feel like you've worked your legs a bit and the views up top will definitely be enjoyed.  The Sandstone Peak hike will be about 3 miles round trip.

  Tri-Peaks, California

Tri-Peaks, California

Tips:

  • You can get lost if it's your first time there, so print and bring the map linked above.
  • I'd highly recommend watching the sunset at Sandstone Peak, especially if there's a few clouds in the skies.  Be sure to take a headlamp, water and a phone, and don't hike alone at night.  There are mountain lions that live in the area, but they normally don't bother anyone.  
  • Pack some food and treats to enjoy while you take in the views.
  • If it recently rained, check out the Grotto Trail that starts directly across the street from the Sandstone Peak Trailhead.  There's a cave and a cool rock formation surrounded by water.  It's 3.5 miles round trip.  This trail is also on the map linked above.
  Tri-Peaks, California

Tri-Peaks, California

  Grotto Trail, California

Grotto Trail, California

  Grotto Trail, California

Grotto Trail, California