Category Archives: backbone trail

Running to Ray Miller

Mountain bikers enjoying the view of Boney Mountain from Overlook Fire Road in Pt. Mugu State Park.

The Ray Miller Trailhead in Pt. Mugu State Park marks the western end of the Backbone Trail, a 68-mile scenic trail along the spine of the Santa Monica Mountains. The Ray Miller Trail’s long, winding descent into La Jolla Canyon is a favorite of runners and hikers, and a fitting end to those traversing the BBT from east to west.

My run this morning was to the Ray Miller Trailhead (and back) from Satwiwa, starting at the Wendy Drive trailhead in Newbury Park. The Wendy Drive Trailhead is very popular and is the starting point for many good runs, hikes and rides. To get an idea of the route options, see the detailed trail maps on the Pt. Mugu State Park page of VenturaCountryTrails.org.

Today I was looking to do a longer run, so didn’t take the usual route. On the way down Big Sycamore Canyon, I skipped the turns at Wood Canyon (Hell Hill), Wood Canyon Vista Trail (BBT) and Fireline Trail and at Overlook Fire Road, some eight miles into the run, finally headed uphill.

View of the Pacific, Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island from the Ray Miller Trail
View of the Pacific, Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island from the Ray Miller Trail.

The top of the Ray Miller Trail is a stout 2.5 -mile climb from the bottom of Overlook Fire Road. Along the way there were excellent views of Sycamore Canyon, Serrano Valley and Boney Mountain.

About a half-mile down the Ray Miller Trail there is a popular overlook of the coast. The day was clear and there were stunning views of the Pacific and the Channel Islands. Brushed by whispers of wind, the cerulean blue Pacific filled my view for much of the descent to the parking lot.

It was an odd feeling to run down to the parking lot with runners who were cheerfully finishing their morning run, knowing that I had many more miles to go. After a quick stop at the water spigot, I turned, and sighed, and took the first steps back up the hill and toward Satwiwa.

Here are a few photos taken along the way.

Related post: Ray Miller Training Run

After the Woolsey Fire: Trail Work with the SMMTC on the Chamberlain Trail

Trail runners assisting the SMMTC in trail work on the Chamberlain Trail segment of the Backbone Trail.

The trail work schedule of the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Council (SMMTC) is impressive to say the least. According to their Trail Work Statistics page, in 2018 the SMMTC was responsible for over 4,300 person-hours of work related to “establishing, preserving and maintaining the public trail system throughout the Santa Monica Mountains and adjacent areas.”

Members of the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Council (SMMTC) approaching the junction of the Old Boney and Chamberlain Trails.
Some of the SMMTC crew approaching the junction of the Old Boney and Chamberlain Trails.

Saturday, 27 trail runners assisted the SMMTC in trail work on the Chamberlain Trail segment of the Backbone Trail. The trail runners were organized by Backbone Trail Utra race director Mike Epler, who recently joined the board of the SMMTC. Ultra race director Keira Henninger volunteered and also encouraged runners to participate.

The Chamberlain Trail took a hard hit from the Woolsey Fire and subsequent rains. Under the direction of SMMTC crew members, runners restored washed out and rutted sections of trail and removed burned limbs, rocks and other debris. The trail was restored from its junction with the Old Boney Trail up to Chamberlain Rock. In preparation for future trail work, hundreds of limbs were removed from the trail up to its junction with the Tri Peaks Trail.

Many runners ran to the Chamberlain Trail, did the trail work, and then ran back. This was a good way to get in a good long run and contribute to the restoration of the trails damaged in the Woolsey Fire.

Additional photos and info are available on the SMMTC Facebook Page and web site.

Dark Canyon Sycamore

A sycamore in Dark Canyon, along the Backbone Trail, aglow in fog-filtered sunlight.

A sycamore in Dark Canyon aglow in fog-filtered morning light.

Also from Saturday’s run on the Lower & Upper Stunt High Trail and Backbone Trail.

Related posts: Saddle Peak Saddle from the Backbone Trail, After the Woolsey Fire: Ladyface from the Backbone Trail

Saddle Peak Saddle from the Backbone Trail

The saddle of Saddle Peak, photographed from the Backbone Trail, near the Piuma Road crossing.

The “saddle” of Saddle Peak, photographed from the Backbone Trail, near the Piuma Road crossing.

From Saturday’s run on the Lower & Upper Stunt High Trail and Backbone Trail to Malibu Creek State Park and back.

Related post: After the Woolsey Fire: Ladyface from the Backbone Trail

After the Woolsey Fire: Ladyface from the Backbone Trail

Ladyface, a peak in Agoura Hills, stands above a sea of fog filling the low areas of Malibu Creek State Park.

Ladyface, a popular peak in Agoura Hills, stands above a sea of fog filling the low-lying areas of Malibu Creek State Park.

The photograph is from a section of the Backbone Trail near Saddle Peak. None of the Backbone Trail EAST of Malibu Canyon was burned in the Woolsey Fire.

Here is a 18 second video panorama of the scene.

Related posts: Woolsey Fire Map with Perimeter and Selected Trails, Woolsey Fire Preliminary Burn Severity and Selected Trails

Woolsey Fire Preliminary Burn Severity and Selected Trails

Google Earth image of a preliminary burn severity map for the Woolsey Fire from NASA Earth Observatory with selected trails added.

The Google Earth image above shows a preliminary burn severity map for the Woolsey Fire from NASA Earth Observatory, as posted by NASA’s Rehabilitation Capability Convergence for Ecosystem Recovery (RECOVER) web site on November 15, 2018. Here is a larger version of the map.

The initial burn severity estimate is based on a Burned Area Reflectance Classification (BARC) derived from satellite data before and after the fire. In the map above the burn severity classes are high (red), moderate (orange) and low (yellow). Note that areas within the fire perimeter that are not included in these classes may still have burned. Also note the fire was still burning when this assessment was made.

GPS tracks of the Backbone Trail and some other trails in the region have been added. Trail and placename locations should be considered approximate.

Related post: Woolsey Fire Map with Perimeter and Selected Trails