Backbone Trail Hike From Kanan Road Trailhead to Zuma Ridge Motorway in Malibu

NOTE: Closed due to damage from the Woolsey Fire as of December 2018. Updates at

You've driven Kanan Road from Agoura Hills towards PCH for decades and have passed by the Backbone Trail trailhead on Kanan and Newton Canyon Road just before Tunnel "T-1" hundreds of times. But you never stopped there to check it out. Well, it's about time to give it a try!

The Backbone Trail stretches 67 miles through the Santa Monica Mountains, from Will Rogers State Park on the east to the Ray Miller Trailhead on the west. There are 12 "official" Backbone Trail trailheads and the Kanan Road Trailhead is one of them. More information on the National Park Service website at

There are two trailheads to catch here at what is also referred to as the Newton Canyon Trailhead. The Backbone Trail to the Latigo Canyon Trailhead is 2.5 miles one way headed east. The Backbone Trail to the Zuma Ridge Motorway - the one covered here - is also 2.5 miles one way headed west. 

The Backbone Trail to Zuma Ridge Motorway is a nice, moderate, winding, mostly single track, well-maintained trail. You'll encounter a creek, a view of the Upper Zuma Falls, a short bridge, some tree-lined canopied sections, wildflowers and moderately rocky sections.


Once you reach Zuma Ridge Motorway, you can continue on the Backbone Trail or turn back for a five mile round trip hike.