A portion of the Backbone Trail managed by the National Park Service in Malibu reopened March 1, along with the popular Grotto Trail in the Circle X area.

The majority of the 67-mile Backbone Trail is now open, with the exception of a four-mile stretch from Yerba Buena Road to the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead and a six-mile stretch from the Kanan Trailhead east to the Corral Canyon Trailhead. Large portions of the trail have been closed since the Woolsey Fire destroyed 88% of federal parkland in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area last November.

“Our small trails crew, assisted on some days by our valuable partners, which include members of the California Conservation Corps, Camp 13 and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, did a phenomenal job in restoring these trails,” said David Szymanski, superintendent of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “An especially rainy season hindered the work and created a variety of additional hazards, but these folks really came through and made it happen.”

Other trails and areas in the park still closed include Solstice Canyon and trails in Zuma/Trancas Canyons.

All official trails in Circle X Ranch, one of the park’s most remote and scenic locations, are now open ,including the Mishe Mokwa Loop, Sandstone Peak Trail, and the Tri Peaks Trail. Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons, Paramount Ranch, Rancho Sierra Vista and the Santa Monica Mountains Visitor Center at King Gillette Ranch are also open.

Scroll down to see photos of the extensive post-fire work (including some before and after photos) that was done to mitigate safety issues caused by “hazard trees” (trees that were badly burned in the fire and are susceptible to falling), eroded trails and warped, burned culverts. Tasks included clearing trails of hazardous rocks, branches and sticks and reestablishing trail pads by spreading any slough that fell from the hillsides onto a trail and finding large rocks and dirt to fill deep ruts that cut directly across trails.

Although these areas are open, there is a closure order for all burned areas that restricts the public to the trails only. Visitors are being asked to stay on trails and be aware that numerous safety hazards still exist. Hikers going off trail can cause more damage to newly restored trails, trample new plants, and prevent the re-growth of fragile vegetation.

The NPS trail crew collaborated on multiple sections of the Backbone Trail with local members of the California Conservation Corps and Camp 13, the only all-female, Malibu-based fire camp in Los Angeles that occasionally assists with trail work. The Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council also helped repair a portion of the Backbone Trail section along Kanan Road in Zuma Canyon.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area boasts a network of approximately 500 miles of trails.

Backbone Trail repair work – Click on an image to enlarge