I am preparing to section hike the entire backbone trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. The trail from end to end is 63 miles with 13,000 feet of elevation gain in total. I will be section hiking this in 6 segments doing most of them round trip. This will total nearly 120 miles and likely over 20,000 feet of elevation gain by the end. Tomorrow begins my adventure with segment 1.
I will do this segment by driving up to the trailhead where I plan to end and then bike down to the start of the trail. Since this only gains just under 200 feet in 11 miles, it is a primarily downhill route.
I will then begin my hike which covers 16 miles and 4200 feet of elevation gain. I have hiked/biked all of this section in different chunks/directions so I am pretty familiar with it. That wont make it any easier to actually hike but at least I shouldnt get too lost.
Most of the trail should be easy enough to follow but not much of it is actually signed as “Backbone trail”. And unlike what I grew up with on the East coast, trails out here are never ever marked after the trailhead and maybe a high traffic intersection. I grew up hiking parts of the AT in NJ/PA/NY and got used to the white blazes prominently displayed. I certainly used to get lost more on trails out here until I got used to navigating without markers.
A lot of this hike includes gorgeous ocean views and goes through the most rugged, isolated terrain for the area. For how close this area is to Los Angeles, it is pretty wild how varied and difficult some of it can be to traverse. Theres sections where you could be convinced the rocks were once part of an underwater environment and the plant life is entirely unique. The sun is brutal at times and there is no water to be found anywhere outside of winter. But its all part of the adventure!
Time to get ready to hit the trail dark and early in the morning! We shall see how many weeks it takes me to actually get through the whole thing. Would be fun to do the whole thing in 3 days but thats too much logistics to get back to the start each day and thru hiking has almost no support/camping available.