|The Backbone Trail offers 67 miles of riding and biking opportunities and is very popular for people who like to get outdoors and do things. The trail spans the Santa Monica Mountains from Will Rogers State Historic Park to Pacific Palisades. There are several sections that you can ride to get an idea of what the trail is like and some sections are more fun than others and the terrain can vary from smooth to rocky.
One of the more popular and fun sections of the trail to ride is from Etz Meloy Mtwy to Encinal Canyon Rd. This section is around 3.5 miles and can be done as a there and back ride for a total of 7 miles or you can ride up the Etz Meloy Mtwy fire road to the top and then come down.
Once at the top it's all downhill on windy smooth singletrack with berms on many corners that are perfect for bikes. You will see some hikers and the occasional horses though so be sure to watch your speed.
Backbone Trail Video
Backbone Trail Review
This is one of the best parts of Backbone to try out when it comes to mountain biking. This ride offers some a nice smooth trail with curve after curve and the berms make it much more fun than if they didn't exist. Some of the berms go pretty high up the hillside allowing you to get several feet high off the trail. The trail is well maintained and doesn't suffer too much horse damage like many other trails do.
Even though this part of Backbone gets a lot of use it never seems too crowded so you don't have to worry about constantly stopping for other people along the way. The trail consists of 2 parts which the first being from Etz Meloy Mtwy to Mulholland Hwy. Once you cross Mulholland the trail continues until you get to Encinal Canyon Rd. where it ends in a dirt parking lot. This is where you would start the ride if you were planning on riding up the trail and back down. It's not too steep so most riders should not have a problem riding the whole way and walking your bike should not be required.
Many people choose to do this ride as a 2 car ride and park one car up on Yerba Buena Rd. and then ride up the Etz Meloy Mtwy fire road about 1.5 miles to the starting point of this section of the Backbone Trail. Then it's all downhill from there even though it's not too steep at all. You can keep a steady pace just coasting or put in some pedaling effort to get your speed up. I wouldn't really call this a downhill trail since it's just a gradual decline. It is a really fun trail thanks to the berms which allow you to take some turns faster because you can ride up them and keep your speed up. It's definitely worth checking out if you are in the area or even if you are not in the area. If you want to extend your ride you can cross Encinal Canyon Rd. and continue on Backbone Trail but it won't be all downhill at this point but more of an up and down ride.
Backbone Trail Pictures
Directions to Backbone Trail
View Backbone Trail - Etz Meloy to Encinal Canyon in a larger map
There are a few ways to get to this to this section of the Backbone trail depending on where you are coming from. One way is to take the 101 freeway and exit Westlake Blvd. and go west towards the ocean. This will eventually turn into Decker Rd or the 23 as it's also known which is a very windy road. Stay on Decker until you get to Lechusa Rd. and make a left and then another immediate left on Encinal Canyon Rd. and follow it up 1 mile and there will be a dirt parking lot on your left where you can park. From here you would ride up the trail to the top and turn around and come back down.
If you are going to do the 2 car route then you will want to park one car here and take the other car (and the bikes) back the way you came down Encinal Canyon Rd. and make a right on Lechusa Rd. and then a right on Decker again. Next you will make a right on Mulholland Hwy at the stop sign and then a right on Little Sycamore Canyon Rd. Follow this road up the hill and it will turn into Yerba Buena Rd and there will be a dirt cutout area off to the right after the bend where you can park the other car. It's about 2 miles from where you turned right on Little Sycamore Canyon Rd. Then ride your bikes on the road back the way you came and as you go around the bend there will be a paved road to your left. Ride up that and then to the gate where the fire road begins. This is Etz Meloy Mtwy fire road and you will ride that about 1.5 miles to the starting point of this part of Backbone Trail.