Category Archives: backbone trail

Kanan to Mishe Mokwa and Back

Rock formations along the West Fork Arroyo Sequit near the Grotto

As I rounded the rib extending down from Peak 2658 — the site of the old Triunfo Lookout — I peered down into the deep canyon of the West Fork Arroyo Sequit and the towering rock formations above the Grotto. As is the case along many sections of the Backbone Trail the view was superb.

Marker recognizing the significant contributions from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Betty Weider in the creation of the Backbone Trail
Marker recognizing the significant contributions from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Betty Weider in the creation of the Backbone Trail.

Earlier, from the Etz Meloy fire road, Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands had seemed to be magnified by the ocean haze — the lighter-colored rocks of San Pedro Point clearly visible on the east end of Santa Cruz. To the south, Santa Barbara Island, the smallest of the Channel Islands, had been visible near the horizon.

I was doing an out and back run on the Backbone Trail from the Kanan Road trailhead, and wondering if I had enough water to go to Mishe Mokwa and then the 15 miles back to Kanan. The irony was that, following several years of drought, this Winter it had rained and rained. Water was everywhere, but I had not thought to bring a UV pen or filter.

Padre's shooting star (Primula clevelandii) along the Backbone Trail below the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead.
Shooting stars near the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead.

Reaching the point where the trail turns to the north and has a great view of Sandstone Peak, Circle X and the Mishe Mokwa trailhead I again debated turning around. Across the canyon, sunlight gleamed from the cars parked at the Mishe Mokwa Trailhead. The rocky knolls below the trailhead were green with rain and though I couldn’t see them from here, would be covered with a spectacular patchwork of purple and yellow shooting stars.

Hmm… I’d run a little over 13 miles, so Mishe Mokwa was less than two trail miles away. Going there would add about 3.5 miles to my run.  I lifted my pack to see how much water I had left, and then continued down the trail.

Spring on the Bent Arrow Trail

Encelia Along the Bent Arrow Trail
Encelia Along the Bent Arrow Trail

I usually do the 21 mile Will Rogers – Temescal loop once or twice a year, and that’s just long enough to forget the difficulty of the strenuous climbs, and remember the outstanding downhill on the Backbone trail, great views of the city, and lush growth in Temescal Canyon.

If the day is warm the return from the coast can be particularly brutal. Today it was cloudy and cool for much of the run, and it wasn’t until the final mile on the Bent Arrow Trail that the sun broke through.

Garapito Trail Runs

Red -orange berries of toyon along the Garapito Trail

First published October 14, 2007. Updated February 4, 2021.

The numerous interconnecting roads and trails of the eastern Santa Monica Mountains can be combined to create trail runs ranging from a few miles to marathon length or more.

One of my favorite trails in this area is the Garapito Trail — a winding, up and down trail through dense, old growth chaparral. The trail connects Fire Road #30, near dirt Mulholland, to the Eagle Rock Fire road segment of the Backbone Trail, near Eagle Rock. Because it’s such a enjoyable trail, I include it in most of the runs I do from Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park (Top of Reseda). The trailhead is at the southern end of Reseda Blvd., on the San Fernando Valley side of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Each run in the series starts the same way, going up to Mulholland using the single track trail that forks right off the fire road near the Reseda trailhead, and then heading southwest a short distance on Mulholland to Fire Road 30, which works south, up to the Hub.

The shortest run in the Garapito series is the 7.5 mile Garapito Loop. Somewhat longer and more strenuous is the 12+ mile Trippet Ranch Loop. A very demanding run in the series is an approximately 26 mile route out to Saddle Peak and back. The popular run out to Parker Mesa Overlook and back tacks on about 6 miles to any of these routes.

Below are links to 3D, interactive views of GPS tracks of some of the Garapito Series trail runs from the Top of Reseda. The scene can be zoomed, tilted, rotated and panned. Placemark and track locations are approximate and subject to errors.

Garapito Loop Plus Eagle Rock (8 miles)
Trippet Ranch Loop (12.3 miles)
Trippet Ranch Loop Plus Temescal Peak (14 miles)
Trippet Ranch Loop Plus Parker Mesa Overlook (18.6 miles)
Trailer Canyon – Trippet Ranch Loop (17.2 miles)

These are just a few of the many variations that are possible.

Some related posts: Trippet Ranch Loop Plus Temescal Peak; Trail Run to Trippet Ranch, Hondo Canyon and Saddle PeakGo Figure

Christmas Berry on the Garapito Loop

Photo of the berries of toyon,  Christmas berry (Heteromeles arbutifolia)

A photo of the berries of Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) taken on the Garapito Loop trail run on Thanksgiving Day. Also called Christmas berry, the plant is protected by a California law.

The Garapito Loop is a pleasant 7.5 mile figure eight course that starts at the south end of Reseda Blvd. at Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park, goes up to near Eagle Rock via Fire Road #30 and Eagle Rock Fire Road, and then returns via the Garapito and Bent Arrow Trails. Here’s a Google Earth image of a GPS trace of the route and a 3D, interactive view of a slightly longer variation of the loop that visits Eagle Rock.

Also see: Ferns Along the Garapito Trail