At a saddle in the Santa Monica Mountains 2,340 feet above the Pacific Ocean and three miles from the coast, the Backbone Trail crosses Stunt Road, creating a high trailhead for nearby destinations like Saddle Peak. The 2-mile round trip hike to the summit climbs just 450 feet but offers fantastic views of Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains.
A spring bloom of Gazanias line the bottom of the trail
Pick up the Backbone Trail, starting west up the center of the V formed by the intersection of Stunt Road and Schueren Road. After a short distance, the trail crosses a section of pavement to the left of a large municipal water tank. Beyond, the trail becomes a single track, which gradually ascends the east side of Saddle Peak. Just 0.7 miles from the start, turn left at the junction with a trail heading to the summit. Straight ahead the Backbone Trail continues down to Piuma Road (and further to Malibu Canyon Road). Hikers can take this section of the Backbone Trail to reach Saddle Peak from Stunt High Trail.
Looking back down the Backbone Trail
A short distance from the junction, make another left, heading up to the 2,805-foot summit. Straight ahead is a lower overlook that faces south and also offers great views of Malibu. Saddle Peak is the sixth tallest point in the range. From here, one has an excellent view east toward Santa Monica Bay. Enjoy the panoramic views before returning the way your came. No fee or permit is required, so get out enjoy!
Looking southwest from the lower lookout
To get to the trailhead: From PCH, turn inland on Las Flores Road (across from Duke’s Restaurant). Drive 3.4 miles up this narrow twisting canyon and turn right onto Rambla Pacifico Street. After 0.6 miles, make a sharp right onto Schueren Rd. and take that for 1.8 miles to the intersection with Stunt Road. Turn left and park along the side of the road. The trailhead for Topanga Lookout is across from the trailhead for Saddle Peak so there will be likely be a few vehicles parked here.
From the 101 Freeway, exit Las Virgenes Road and head south toward Malibu. After 2.8 miles turn left (east) on Mulholland Highway. Turn right on Stunt Road after 4 miles, and drive another 4 miles to the top of the road at the intersection with Schueren Road.
Trailhead address: Stunt Road & Schueren Road, Malibu, CA 90265
Trailhead coordinates: 34.080806, -118.647111
Use the map below to create your own directions:
This 2-mile visits the site of an old fire tower that still offers great views of the surrounding mountains.
|Stunt High Trail to Saddle Peak|
This 8.2-mile hike combines Stunt High Trail and a section of the Backbone Trail to visit the 6th tallest summit in the Santa Monica Mountains.
|Calabasas Peak from Stunt Road|
This 3.6-mile hike travels an easy-to-follow fire road, climbing 1000 feet to panoramic views of the Santa Monica Mountains and San Fernando Valley.
|Calabasas Peak via Calabasas – Cold Creek Trail|
This 4.5-mile round trip hike starts up a scenic single track formerly know as the Secret Trail and ascends 750 feet to the summit of Calabasas Peak.
|Red Rock Canyon Park|
The trails in the beautifully sculpted Red Rock Canyon are 2.5 and 5.2 miles in length.
This section of the Backbone Trail crosses fields of grains and forests of bays, climbing 1,500 feet over 3.8 miles to a small ocean view. Extend the hike to Topanga Lookout for an incredible perspective over the Santa Monica Mountains.
|Tuna Canyon Park|
This 1.6 to 5.1-mile hike offers spectacular ocean views from a less-visited park between Topanga and Malibu.
|More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains|
Explore other destinations in the range.
This 2.6-mile loop offers a variety of scenery and decent exercise, despite its relative brevity.
|Ocean View Trail – Canyon View Trail Loop|
This 3-mile loop demands more effort than the Zuma Canyon Trail and provides great ocean and canyon views.
This 3-mile out and back hike visits a remote grotto in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
|Westridge Trail to San Vicente Mountain|
This 7.4-mile hike travels a scenic ridge between a Brentwood neighborhood and a summit that was once used as a Nike Missile site.