Lower Canyonback Ridge Trail on Canyonback Ridge in the Santa Monica Mountains in Brentwood, Los Angeles

Lower Canyonback Trail crosses Canyonback Ridge between Brentwood and a development of estate homes built along the ridge. The trail offers views of west Los Angeles, Santa Monica Bay, and neighboring ridges in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Getty Museum to the east is also in view and on the same plane with trail. From the top of Kenter Avenue to Mountain Gate Country Club Estates is 4.2 miles round trip. Hiking the full length of the ridge through the development and across Upper Canyonback Trail to Mulholland Drive is an 8-miles round trip trek. For something shorter, you only need to hike a mile up the ridge to reach great ocean views from a bench and swinging seats beneath an oak tree.

Like the neighboring ridges in the Big Wild (Westridge, Sullivan Ridge, and Temescal Ridge), there is both a fire road and a single-track trail ascending the ridge. The fire road is gradual, while the trail has steeper sections and offers more dramatic views. Lower Canyonback Trail is much like Upper Canyonback Trail with a couple of exceptions. The freeway sound is not present, but a high-voltage powerline is. The trail shares the ridge with heavyweight lines that obscure the view somewhat and give off a distracting buzzing sound at times. Nevertheless, when the air quality is good, Lower Canyonback Trail has some fantastic views.

Canyonback Ridge Trail
Looking up Canyonback Ridge

Begin by hiking through the forbidden-looking black gate at the top of Kenter Ave. Beyond the gate, the pavement turns left, meeting a gravel road that continues up the ridge. As the road makes its first bend to the left, you’ll be treated to an already impressive view of Santa Monica Bay. Bear right up a wide dirt trail, or a path that precedes it, to join Lower Canyoback Trail beneath the power lines.

Cross over a rise in the ridge and pass the first of two municipal water tanks. As you continue up the trail you will spot the Getty Center sitting on the second ridge to the east. The museum is backed by the skyscrapers in Century City, and further off you’ll spot the skyline of downtown Los Angeles.

Canyonback Trail skyline view
The Getty Center, Century City, and Downtown Los Angeles from Lower Canyonback Trail

The road gains elevation, swinging sharply through a hairpin turn. When the road turns back to the east, 2/3 of a mile from the start, wou will see a narrow trail breaks off to the left, climbing up the ridge to a coast live oak that provides alluring shade. There is a swinging bench hanging from the tree as well as a tire swing, so this is definitely a place that hikers can linger.

coast live oak Lower Canyonback Trail
The tire swing and swinging chair in the oak tree

The path to the tree continues up the spin of the ridge to a crest. Upon the crest you will find a bench that has been placed for a sweeping view across Santa Monica Bay. Leaving the ocean views behind, the path continues north, dropping back down to the main trail up Canyonback Ridge. It is definitely worthwhile to take this parallel path off the road at least once while you hike on the ridge. It is a third of a mile hike up to the crest on the ridge above the coast live oak, so you can also use this as your destination for a shorter 2-mile round trip hike.

Lower Canyonback Trail
A scenic crest on Canyonback Ridge

Canyonback Ridge Trail
Looking down the steep section of the ridge trail

After coming together, the two routes separate again, with the wide fire road continuing gradually up the east side of the ridge and the single-track trail making a very steep ascent up the ridge, cutting about 0.25 miles from the hike and raising heart rates in the process. The routes reunite and the ridge levels out, arriving at a second water tank 1.8 miles from the start (taking the fire road).

The road is paved over the last third of a mile dropping into Mountain Gate Country Club Estates. From here, walk 0.4 miles across the lofty neighborhood to resume hiking on Upper Canyonback Trail. For those not planning to hike that far, feel free to turn around at the upper water tower. The views do not change much beyond that point and hiking on pavement isn’t really hiking…

Canyonback Ridge Trail
One of many Gazanias near the upper water tank

No fee or permit is required to hike Canyonback Trail. Dogs are allowed, and walking them is a popular use of the trail.

To get to the trailhead: From Sunset Boulevard 1.5 miles west of the 405, turn north on Kenter Ave. Drive 2.1 miles up the ridge and park along the street in front of the gate.

Trailhead address: 1567 North Kenter Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Trailhead coordinates: 34.081754, -118.494577

Use the map below to create your own directions:

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Photos

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These photos were taken in April of 2010 and November of 2013. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
East Sepulveda Fire Road Getty View ParkGetty View Park
This 3-mile out and back hike crosses East Sepulveda Fire Road (Casiano Fire Road) on a ridge east of the 405 Freeway that offers light traffic and plentiful views of the Getty Museum and Santa Monica Bay.
Canyonback Ridge hikeUpper Canyonback Trail
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This 2-mile hike approaches the peak from the east and offers views to the north and south en route to the old Nike Missile site.
Sullivan Canyon hike Sullivan Canyon
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Sullivan Ridge hikeSullivan Ridge
A prominent lone-standing Live Oak along Sullivan Ridge makes a natural turnaround point and a 7.5 to 8.3 mile round trip hike.
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