Mishe Mokwa & Backbone Trail Loop
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.
- 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.