The trail starts at the end of the paved road. Go up the trail about 100 feet and youll see an unmarked singletrack on the right in the bushes. Go up it. When the singletrack ends in less than 1/4 mile turn right on the dirt road (dirt Mulhuland). Go another 300 feet and youll see a gated fireroad on the left. Go around the gate and down the fire road. Keep going on the fireroad for about two miles. Eventually it will start to climb. Youll pass Hub Junction (a small map board with a tiny roof over it) and keep going. Less than a mile after The Hub youll see a trail on the left. This is Will Rogers Trail, turn left here. Will Rogers is doubletrack or singletrack that goes mostly downhill for over 5 miles. After youve gone about five miles start looking for a trail leading down and to the left. Its not hidden but it is unmarked. Go down it. It is steep, rocky and filled with stumps in certain sections. Be careful. This trail will go down into Rustic Canyon. Ive heard there is no riding in Rustic Canyon. But I have never seen any no bikes signs so I dont worry about it (I have to walk a lot of this section anyway). When you get to the bottom cross the creekbed and go left on the other side (the trail gets vague here, so just remember to keep heading up). Follow the trail up until you reach Sullivan Ridge (a smooth paved fireroad). Make a left on Sullivan Ridge and keep going. The pavement will end at a gate and youll climb for about 4 more miles on the dirt part of Sullivan Ridge. Sullivan Ridge will end at another gate. When you get to this gate (dirt Mulhuland again) go left. Follow dirt Mulhuland for about 3 miles. Start looking to the right for the first singletrack you came up at the very beginning of the ride. Go down it. Now just back track down to your car. This ride goes through miles of the Santa Monica Mts. The landscape is spotted with Oak trees and Sage brush. There are also great views of the Pacific and the city of Santa Monica from the higher sections of this ride. There are also other singletrack trails that mirror Sullivan Ridge and dirt Mulhuland. Add them to the mix after you have learned the main loop. Enjoy!
Take the 101 Frwy North from L.A. past the 405 Frwy to the Reseda Blvd exit and go left under the Frwy. Keep going straight through a couple of lights and then a few stop signs. You will pass Caballaro Canyon (another trail) on the left and youll keep going. Go all the way to the top of the road where the pavement ends. Park on the street near the end of the pavement.
Summary: Great trail of 22.5 miles consisting of basically a 'down to the ocean and back up' type of route. I don't know the status of Rustic Trail.
There's plenty of fun to be had on the way down Backbone trail to Will Rogers State Park and if you go on off hours or in slightly inclement weather then you have much less likelihood of coming across hikers in the interior sections.
Recommended Route: I start at the top of Reseda Blvd. Head up the trail from the parking lot and turn right on Mulholland dirt road. Make your next left and do some up and down along Temescal Canyon Fireroad culminating in a small climb to The Hub (marked by a portapottie and a sign and 4 fireroads. Stay straight/left for a mile or so. Watch your left trailside. You'll come around a left hander with a flat area to the right and in the inside crook of the corner is a bit of singletrack marked at Backbone Trail. The sign seems to come and go from time to time. This trail is also named Roger's Fire Road. Stay on that until you drop into Will Roger State Park. Get out of the park and go left on Sunset Blvd, left on Almalfi, left on Capri, left on Casale and cruise the broken road/fireroad back to Mulholland. Hang a left and either follow Mulholland back to the Reseda trailhead or peel off for a little singletrack fun on Farmer Fire Road. There's a point on that singletrack that it feels like you're diving deep into the canyon along some very tight switchbacks. Take them! They are fun and fairly treacherous...once you are going down the switchbacks just bear right and you will merge back with Mulholland.
Summary: This is a truly great ride in Pacific Palisades / Santa Monica area.
These trailt directions are detailed and complete!
Recommended Route: Another great hike / ride: Will Rogers Park, up the Backbone trail.
Difficulty level: Intermediate / moderately difficult
Take Sunset to Will Rogers in Pacific Palisades. Park two streets before the entrance to the park, if you do not want to pay the $10 parking fee. I get an annual pass for $125; it’s good at most California State parks, and I go most every weekend, so it makes sense. Cars are locked into the Will Rogers parking lot at sundown, so don’t park here unless you are sure you will be back in time. Ask the ranger what time the gates will be locked.
It’s recommended that bikers who want to ride the full loop (an epic ride) bring two cars. The full loop is a shuttle ride. See my notes later about on about this. Park the second car at the Westridge trailhead.
The hike / ride:
Ask the Ranger manning the gate in front where the Backbone trail is. He or she will tell you. They may have a map available; do buy it from the Ranger at the gate.
When you hike up to the start of the Backbone trail, you will see a small kiosk. This marks the start of the trail. The first mile is somewhat steep in places, and most people turn around and go back at the iron bridge, feeling tired. You will feel like you hiked several miles, but it’s only a mile!
At the iron bridge, you are very near the summit. Immediately after the bridge, you should climb up one last steep hill. After that the trail becomes flat and easy, and very beautiful. You will see! It goes for miles, all the way up to the Hub.
Along the way you will come to a wonderful old oak tree with a great view of the Sullivan Ridge trail, a half mile across the ravine on your right.
Only the heartiest hikers will attempt going beyond this old oak, but bikers may go on.
If you don’t make it that far, don’t worry, you will probably work up to it, if you come to love these trails as I do.
Before this trail reaches the Hub, a well known convergence of four fire roads, you should note that the last quarter mile of this hiking path was washed away in a huge mudslide, during the rains of winter, 2005.
Do not attempt to traverse this washed out area; it is impassable, and you will not reach the Hub this way.
To get around the mudslide, before you come to it, keep an eye out on your left for a single track trail. It first dips a few feet on the left, and then goes up hill. Take this trail. After about a mile, it emerges onto a dirt fire road. Turn right.
A SHUTTLE CAR IS NECCESSARY FOR MOST MOUNTAIN BIKERS AFTER THIS. Really do not continue past this point, if you do not have a second car parked at either the Westridge or Bayliss trailheads. Reason: you will need a ride back to your car, which is back at Will Rogers Park. Biking Sunset back to Will Rogers is too hairy for me; it’s too close to the traffic, and this section is 2 -3 miles. The heartiest young bikers do it all the time, however.
OK, so you have your second shuttle car parked, and you want to bike on. When you come to the Hub, which has a kiosk with a map, continue straight, down a long hill. Eventually this will put you onto Mullholland. Turn right on dirt Mullholland, and you will shortly pass Reseda Blvd. Continue on for 2 – 3 miles.
After two miles or so, you will come to the top of Sullivan Ridge trail (ask other bikers where that is along Mullholland). This connects to the Sullivan Canyon / Ridge loop ride (described next).
After another mile you will come to the old Nike missile station. Turn right here, and descend along the dirt fire road.
Do explore the single track trails, on both your left and right as you bike down. You cant get lost; they always put you back on the dirt fire road. Some are too steep to bike down, so use your head and get off your bike and walk when the trail gets dangerously steep for biking. Try to ignore the macho young guys who bike this; remember it’s a miracle that anyone makes it to the age of 30 alive.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Sullivan Canyon, Capri to Sullivan Ridge Fire Road
Review Date January 23, 1999
Overall Rating 3 of 5
Ridden Trail: Once a year
Reviewed by: MTBikeDoug
, from Pomona, CA
Summary: I've gone down the Will Rogers trail to where the Rustic Canyon trail forks off, and the sign there says "No Bikes" so I didn't ride the Rustic Canyon Trail. But the Will Rogers trail is a sweet singletrack that ends up at Will Rogers State Park, however there is one short section you must walk as a sign requests. WRSP is a neat little known park that offers easy riding and has a circular trail system, you can see people riding horses, playing polo and football, and you can even visit Will's ranchhouse Then you can go back up the trail to the top where you started. Or do it my way, and the last half of the ride will be downhill to the park.
Recommended Route: Start at Will Rogers State Park, and climb til you get to the Hub, then reverse back to the park.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Will Rogers Loop: Park on Temescal Cyn Rd (free), ride north on Temescal Cyn Rd to Sunset, turn left, go to Palisades, ride uphill to La Montura, go left, quick right on Michael Lane, then leave the pavement for Trailer Canyon Fire road (up hill again) to Temescal Cyn Fire road, turn left, continue uphill to Will Rogers Fire Road. NOW, you hit the sweet singletrack downhill. Ride this through Will Rogers State Park. Turn right on Sunset, (back to the pavement) and look for a sidewalk between the guardrail and the fence on the left side of the street. Take that. Ride to Chautauqua Blvd, turn left. Follow this down to Pacific Coast Hwy, then turn left, and cross W. Channel Road. Walk down into the underpass (under PCH) and come up on the paved bike path on Will Rogers State Beach. Go right, and ride to Temescal Cyn Road (almost to the end of the bike path). Cross PCH, and ride Temescal Cyn Road a short way uphill back to you vehicle.