Canyonback Ridge Trail

Canyonback Ridge runs north to south in the area of the Santa Monica Mountains known as the Big Wild. The ridge is located east of Mandeville Canyon near San Vicente Mountain. Much like the neighboring ridges, Westridge, Sullivan Ridge, and Temescal Ridge, there is both a wide fire road and a narrow single-track running along Canyonback Ridge allowing hikers to choose their own adventure on the trail. However, unlike these other ridges, the proximity to the 405 means that the highway song is rarely out of earshot. This hike along Upper Canyonback Ridge between Mulholland Drive and Mountain Gate Country Club is 3 miles roundtrip with 325 feet of elevation between the high and low points of the trail.

Start by hiking south from Mulholland Drive next to the trailhead for San Vicente Mountain. Not far from the trailhead, a single-track trail breaks off straight ahead, while the Canyonback Fire Road curves to the left. The small trail climbs to the highest point on Canyonback Ridge at 1,700 feet, while the fire road descends gradually along the eastern face. A steep descent on the backside of the ridgetop trail reunites the two routes, which continue to intersect and overlap as they travel down the ridge. The road remains gradual, while the narrow trail undulates with the contours of the ridge. After one mile, the fire road crosses another trail, Hollyhock Fire Road, which heads west into Mandeville Canyon.

Canyonback Trail
Looking south from the highest point in the ridge

The once unbroken Canyonback Ridge Trail is dissected across the center by a housing development, whose gating of the trail in 2006 caused an uproar with local trail riders and hikers. A mile and a half from the start, Upper Canyonback Ridge Trail hits a fence at the northern end of the Mountain Gate Country Club Estates. From here, one could walk 0.4 miles down lofty Canyonback Road to reach Lower Canyonback Trail, which continues for 2.1 miles to the top of Kenter Ave in Brentwood for an 8-mile round trip hike. If that seems too far, simply turn around at the development for a 3-mile round trip trek.

Canyonback Trail
Looking south over Mountain Gate Country Club Estates

Canyonback Ridge is popular with joggers and mountain bikers, and there are often as many dogs enjoying the trail as humans. No fee or permit is required, so get out and enjoy.

To get to the trailhead: From the 405 freeway take the Shirball Center Drive exit. Follow signs for Mulhollad Drive and head west. After 2 miles, Mulhollad Drive becomes unpaved and makes a hairpin turn to the left. Continue a quarter of a mile till you can drive no further. The trail to San Vicente Mountain is straight ahead on unpaved Mulholland Drive, while Canyonback Trail is on the left side of the road beyond the fire gate to the left of the chain-link fence.

Trailhead address: 17024 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Trailhead coordinates: 34.32087, -118.50272

Use the map below to create your own directions:

View Upper Canyonback Trail GPS in a larger map
Or view Los Angeles Hikes in a larger map
Photos

Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail  Canyonback Ridge Trail

These photos were taken in April and November of 2010. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Angeles Santa Monica HikeLower Canyonback Trail
This 4.2 mile hike ascends Canyonback Ridge from Kenter Ave. in Brentwood to the Mountain Gate Country Club Estates.
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.
San Vicente Mountain TrailMulholland Drive to San Vicente Mountain
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.
San Vicente Mountain HikeWestridge 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.
Mandeville Canyon hikeMandeville Canyon to San Vicente Mountain Loop
This 5-mile hike incorporating a few trails, taking a DWP road up to Westridge to visit San Vicente Mountain, before crossing Mulholland Drive and Canyonback Ridge to return to Mandeville Canyon via Hollyhock Fire Road.
Suillivan Canyon HikeSullivan Canyon
This 8.5-mile round trip hike follows a wide trail up the center of a sycamore-filled canyon.
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.
Santa Monica Hike More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains
Explore other destinations in the range.
Similar Trail
Topanga Lookout HikeTopanga Lookout
This 2-mile visits the site of an old fire tower that still offers great views of the surrounding mountains.
Saddle Peak HikeBackbone Trail to Saddle Peak
This 2-mile hike approaches Saddle Peak from the east.
Parker Mesa Overlook TrailParker Mesa Overlook
This steep out-and-back hike rewards the effort with excellent views of the Pacific Ocean.
Temescal Canyon HikeTemescal Canyon
This 2.6-mile loop offers a variety of scenery and decent exercise, despite its relative brevity.
Grotto hike MalibuThe Grotto
This 3-mile out and back hike visits a remote grotto in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

One Comment on Upper Canyonback Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains

  1. lothar says:

    Very good hike for kids or people with strollers. Not too difficult, but just enough to get your heart rate up. Beautiful views of LA and the Valley.

Ask a question or share your experience

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *