Backbone Trail / Crags Road Mountain Biking

Located northwest of LA in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Malibu Creek State Park is a lush biking haven remotely tucked away from the big city. It would take a full day and lots of energy to check out all of the riding options from trails to dirt roads. An easy starter is old Crags Road which leads up to the old M.A.S.H. filming location. A more challenging trek rolls along the Backbone Trail. The MCSP is on Malibu Canyon Road (a.k.a. Las Virgines Road) about 6 miles north out of Malibu. It can also be reached from the Las Virgines Road exit of US101 by heading 3 miles south.

Crags Road is a abandoned stretch running from the main parking area up along Malibu Creek and up into the rugged peaks of Goat Buttes over 8 miles. At the top, Crags Road ends at the intersection with the Backbone Trail, old Castro Peak Road and old Mesa Peak Road. Crags Road is a moderately easy trek on hard-packed double track with some short stretches of sand, light washboarding and washed out areas. The route initially follows the meandering Malibu Creek bordered by large sycamores and some huge oaks. The rugged peaks of Goat Buttes lie to the south and are prominent over much of the mountain bike ride. A mile or so beyond the M.A.S.H. site (marked by a rusted jeep), turns south to climb Bulldog up to the ridge (follow signs to Castro Peak Motorway). At the top, either return the same way or form a larger loop with one of the other roads or Backbone Trail.

The Backbone Trail is a rolling singletrack running the peaks and canyons of the Santa Monicas above the scenic beaches sliding off PCH. Be ready to experience technical climbs and fast descents. A primary trailhead for the BT is the Corral Canyon Road parking area. The trails departs from the west side of the lot. Heading west, its a cruise down one canyon to the next, ending at Kanan Dume Road.

Backbone Trail / Crags Road Mountain Biking Map



Local Contact(s):  Malibu Creek State Park (818) 880-0367; California Tourism (916) 444-4429; Malibu Chamber of Commerce, (310) 456-9025; City of Malibu, (310) 456-2489.

Recommended Map:  "Santa Monica Mountains Trail Map" from National Geographic

Best Season:  Any

Average Difficulty:  Moderate

Base Camp:  MCSP Campground

Luxury Loding:  Saddle Peak Lodge (818) 222-3888; Casa Larronde, (310) 456-9333; Malibu Beach Inn, (310) 456-6444

Breakfast Restaurant:  Coogies Beach Cafe; Diedrich Coffee, Malibu

Date Published:  

Date Updated:  6/26/2016

Backbone Trail / Crags Road Mountain Biking Map


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