Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail – Segment 4

Six of us, plus a very happy Monte Carlo, hiked segment four of the Backbone trail on a very hot day early in April.

Segment 4:  Mulholland Highway to Latigo Canyon.

Segment 4

Julie eating lunch next to the stream

Monte Carlo resting in the patch of shade. He was the only dog on this hike.

A few items from Edith’s email describing the hike:

  • the total hike will be 7.9 miles
  • include some moderate uphill and downhill portions.
  •  hike time of  four to five hours.
  • Dogs are allowed on this segment.

Monte Carlo loves hiking. When he heard the last item he was the happiest dog in Southern California.

When he realizes that we’re going on a hike – he knows somehow by sniffing out the window – he gets awfully excited in the back seat, and as soon as the car stops he wants out! I should take a video of him racing up the steep hills pulling Mr F holding the leash.


The path was steep and uneven

On the official website there’s a note of caution:

There are many road crossings and many intersecting trails in this section of the Backbone Trail. Use a good GPS or a good topographic map for this section.

Hiking poles are recommended due to ascents and descents on the trail.


photo at the finish = Back Bone Trail hike #4 = 7.9 miles

Our little group were well equipped with a good map, a GPS and poles.


It was the first time Mr F and I tried out trekking poles.

The verdict?

Neither of us slipped or fell so we highly recommend using them.

I was concentrating on using the poles correctly, that I didn’t think of stopping for a photo op, but if you look carefully at the photo below you’ll see Mr F is using his poles.


The Flora of segment four – according to the National Park Service website:

The trail crosses brushy chaparral covered slopes then dips up and down through shaded stream cut canyons and Oak Woodlands.



Volunteer leader

volunteers cleaning the trail


We came upon a large volunteer work crew working very hard on this hot day to clear the vegetation around the path.  

Mr F and I plan to join them one weekend.


And finally …

one horse at a time across this bridge

oh oh I forget what this was…

The rattlesnake in the photo below was laying in the sun in the middle of the path terrifying a young couple who came running back to us hoping we knew something about snakes.

Julie identified it as a young rattlesnake.

This rattlesnake snake slithered across our path

It’s taken so many years to put the all the trail pieces together mainly because private landholders weren’t interested in negotiating with the National Park Service.

we share the canyon roads with cyclists

You may not believe me if I tell you that Los Angeles – the city where the automobile is King and Queen – has many cycling enthusiasts?

Early in the morning when we drive to our meet-up places in the canyons, we share the road with bicycles.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Oh dear, I’m still so backlogged, we also walked segment five last month, but this is long enough.


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27 Responses to Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail – Segment 4

  1. What beautiful vistas! Such a good dog to stay with you and not run off to explore the “call of the wild.” Rattlesnakes look pretty wild to me. Rick uses a walking stick that belonged to his grandfather when he walks on uneven ground at the farm. I would need a lesson on the GPS. Looking forward to #5!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Georgette,
      Actually Monty isn’t such a good boy. He has to be kept on the leash or his nose takes him right into the thick brush where we can’t get him back.

      I’d love to see a photo of Rick’s grandfather’s walking stick. It must be beautiful.

      You’re quite right that it’s not easy using the GPS. I have no idea.

  2. magsx2 says:

    There certainly looks to be some rough patches on the trail, not easy to walk over I assume. Monte Carlo obviously loves the trails, it’s great that he was able to go along.
    I love your photos, I noticed in your slide show that their was a lot of wildflowers as well, all colours it seems, they brighten up an area, especially the yellow.
    Curiosity got the better of me and in one of the photos someone was pointing up at the sky, I would love to know what was up there. 🙂
    Oh and I couldn’t believe the photo about the toilet stuff, not something you would expect to come across.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Mags,
      There are people who clear the vegetation but I don’t think they often work on the paths, and as you noticed the trail is rough and not easy for walking.

      I’m glad to hear that you watched the slide show and noticed the wildflowers. They are beautiful aren’t they? The yellow is wild mustard.

      The person pointing up at the sky? I think they were pointing at a bird.

      The toilet was really disgusting especially as it was right by the side of the path!

  3. Christina says:

    Eeek! That baby rattlesnake! I would have reacted just like the young couple and panicked. Your nonchalant response has me thinking you’ve seen these guys quite a bit on your hikes?
    I’m surprised that I’ve hiked so many trails in the Bay Area and have yet to encounter a rattlesnake. I have numerous friends who’ve seen them while hiking so I consider myself very lucky!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Christina,
      re the young couple: The female was so terrified that even after the snake had slithered off she couldn’t walk past the spot and her boyfriend had to carry her on his back.

      This was actually the first time I’ve seen a rattlesnake on the path. But I wasn’t surprised because we’re hiking in their country and the paths are surrounded with all sorts of wildlife. We also saw some on Hike #5.

  4. shoreacres says:

    I’ve never used walking poles. My feeling is they would be more in the way than useful, but that’s just me. Maybe I have some mountain goat in my lineage. (My mother did think one uncle was an old goat. I don’t know if that counts!)

    I especially like the photo of the vista in the slide show, the one with the single stem of grass in the foreground. Even though I’m outdoors all the time for work, I love getting off for a good hike. I need to do some of that before our unbearable summer heat gets here!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Linda
      I also thought that poles would be more of a hindrance than a help but on those steep uneven paths it helps so you aren’t trying to grab onto a branch.

      My friend Paul who has hiked for the past 40 years all over the English Lake District told me that most people use their poles like they’re an umbrella. I wonder what he would’ve said of the way I was using mine. Hee hee…

      I hope you can get a few good hikes before it gets too hot.

      I agree with you that the vista with the single stem of grass is lovely. Thanks for pointing it out.

  5. souldipper says:

    I was thinking of rattlers when I saw the photo of Julie having lunch by the stream – sitting on a rock. That’s the sort of place one may find a rattler sunning itself.

    Unless, on a low tide, a bear or a cougar swims to our island from the bigger one, we can walk anywhere knowing there’s nothing to harm us. Hey, maybe that’s why we have so many single moms living here.

    I’d love to have been with you!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Amy,
      You’re right that a rattler could be sunning itself by the water. Did you see the three people eating their lunch behind Julie?

      You don’t even have bears on your island? Wow that’s amazing.
      You’re always welcome to come join us Amy. Really.

  6. I am really impressed with the amount of hiking you do…and this was quite a trek! You saw some wonderful things, though. That looked like an owl pellet to me–the item you forgot? I worry about wild animals…have you any concerns about that, or is it too busy a trail for that concern? I posted an “Honor Roll” today and included you and your blog. It is in conjunction with the Sunshine Award and Genuine Blogger Award, but I’ve been very clear that I don’t have an expectation that all honorees will want to follow through. It is totally up to you how you go forward with awards, but I wanted other friends of mine to find you. I think you have a lovely spot to visit! Hope you get some rest before Monday. You fit a lot into your weekends 🙂 Debra

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Debra,
      Thank you most sincerely for honoring me on your “Honor Roll”. I am humbled to be included with that marvelous group of bloggers. Recognition from a fellow blogger makes my heart sing 🙂 I have such a backlog of posts that I haven’t acknowledged your earlier award. One post at a time…

      I do cram a lot into my weekends. I also do a neighborhood walk of about 3 or 4 miles about five nights a week, and not because I want to lose weight. I’ll explain why in the next post.

      This wasn’t one of the hardest hikes we’ve done. Hike #2 was about 12 miles long and involved climbing up to 3,100 feet then back down then up to about 2,000 ft. was grueling. I was so stiff after that hike (which we did as #3) I couldn’t walk for a few days.

      We’ll have to wait for Edith or Julie to stop by to identify the thing I forgot. I don’t think it’s an owl pellet….

    • dearrosie says:

      Debra I didn’t answer your question about the wild animals.

      It’s important to be aware that we’re sharing the canyons with the animals and even though we’re bigger than say a rattlesnake, I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with one, so I give them a wide berth.
      There aren’t bears in our canyons, or there shouldn’t be any this far south, and though we’ve seen coyotes before they ran off when they saw us.

  7. sybiln says:

    Thanks for taking me along on your walk Rosie. I’m OK with snakes, but freak at the thought of sharing a trail with rattlers. Especially when I ALWAYS walk with my dogs. Here in Nova Scotia, they’re allowed on all trails (on leash). We have no poisonous snakes in Nova Scotia. ‘course, we do have bears and coyotes and the occasional moose.

    Is your mystery photo, a bird nest ?

    • dearrosie says:

      Hello Sybil,
      Even though you’re hiking on the east coast of Canada and I’m hiking on the west coast of the States we’re on the same continent, but the geography, fauna, flora and temps are world’s apart. Interesting!

      Unless we’re walking the Backbone Trail we hike every Saturday and always take Monty with us. Last Saturday was an exception.

      I’ve never seen a rattlesnake on the trail before and I must say it’s awfully scary hearing them “rattling” so close by.

      The mystery photo is this month’s quiz!

  8. I dig out my old cross-country ski poles when I take a long hike, even on our back roads and not just in the woods. They are a great balancing tool and I love the support they give. What a wonderful hike you all had and like ‘three well beings’ asked, no worry about bear or cougar?

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi EOS,
      I’m not sure how cross-country ski poles differ from hiking poles. The main reason to use the poles is as you said, to help you keep your balance especially when hiking down hills.

      As long as you’re aware that we share the canyons with the animals and show some respect for their home by taking out what you bring in – so for example if you have to “go” everything including the toilet paper should be dug into a hole!
      There aren’t bears in our canyons, or there shouldn’t be any this far south, and though we’ve seen coyotes before they ran off when they saw us.

  9. You have some wild and wonderful country out there, Rosie. So many petite wildflowers to look at when one isn’t taking in a sweeping vista! Wondering how warm it was on the day of your hike and if you need to carry lots of water… The sunlight looks so bright and everyone was wearing a hat! Do you have to be concerned about mountain lions? Incredibly they seem to be showing up in Connecticut now.

    • dearrosie says:

      We’ve lived in a few different cities and none of them have so many acres of wilderness so close to the city or anything nearly as rich as the wild-life we have here, and as you noticed there are flowers blooming all year round.

      It was very hot and very sunny hence the hats. Temps in the 90’s HOT. We all ran out of water. I was so thirsty at the end I said I’d drink water out the toilet.

      We do have mountain lions here but not many and they’re very shy so the chances of meeting up with one are very slight. I’ve never seen a sign “Beware of Mountain Lions” but every place we’ve hiked has a “Beware of Rattlesnakes” sign.

  10. How nice of you to take us along for your hike 🙂 Looks like a beautiful place!

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Anne
      So glad you enjoyed hiking with us. The countryside around L.A. is really beautiful as you can see. Wait til you see the photos from Segment Five!

  11. munchow says:

    This looks like a gorgeous trail and I am not surprised you had an excellent trip. So much to see along the trail, even a rattlesnake made for some excitement. The photos are beautiful and gives a very good impression about the trip and trail.

    • dearrosie says:

      My dear Otto,
      Los Angeles is in a really magnificent part of the world, but unless you’re hiking in the canyons you have no idea how splendid it is.

      You’re very kind to say my photos are beautiful. Thank you.

  12. An amazing time with friends and nature. What a adventurous trail. The stream looked like a magical water fountain. The rattlesnake was too close for comfort. I would had been scared. Oh, well, it is part of the thrill and excitement right. Thanks for sharing with us this fun trip.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi IT,
      I’m glad to know you enjoyed the hike. We don’t often have water in our streams because our rain falls in the winter so it was a magical place to stop for lunch.
      I wasn’t scared of the rattlesnake because I wasn’t alone, and I was with people who know how to manage in the wild. I wouldn’t like to come upon a snake when it’s just me and a rattlesnake, or me and the dog and the snake, but I am getting used to it, because It’s all part of living in S. California

  13. Pingback: Hiking in California: Backbone Trail Segment 7 | Wondering Rose

  14. Pingback: Hiking in California: Backbone Trail – Segment 8 | Wondering Rose

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