Upper Canyonback Trail
in the Santa Monica Mountains
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 round trip with 200 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 1,740 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.
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 Ridge is popular with joggers and mountain bikers, and there are often as many dogs enjoying the trail as humans. Dogs are allowed to be off-leash under direct supervision in Westridge-Canyonback Wilderness Park. 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 farther. 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: 34.128214, -118.50272 (34° 07′ 41.57″N 118° 30′ 09.79″W)
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|Lower Canyonback Trail |
This 4.2 mile hike ascends Canyonback Ridge from Kenter Ave. in Brentwood to the Mountain Gate Country Club Estates.
|Getty 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.
|Mulholland 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.
|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.
|Mandeville 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.
|Sullivan Canyon |
This 8.5-mile round trip hike follows a wide trail up the center of a sycamore-filled canyon.
|Sullivan 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.
| More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains |
Explore other destinations in the range.
|Topanga Lookout |
This 2-mile visits the site of an old fire tower that still offers great views of the surrounding mountains.
|Backbone Trail to Saddle Peak |
This 2-mile hike approaches Saddle Peak from the east.
|Parker Mesa Overlook |
This steep out-and-back hike rewards the effort with excellent views of the Pacific Ocean.
|Temescal Canyon |
This 2.6-mile loop offers a variety of scenery and decent exercise, despite its relative brevity.
|The Grotto |
This 3-mile out and back hike visits a remote grotto in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
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.
If I’m not mistaken, the trailhead co-ordinates on this page are wildly incorrect!
Thank you for catching that. The coordinates have been updated to the correct location.
Is there parking ?
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You can hike with your dog OFF leash?
That is correct. According to the park:
“Dogs are permitted off-leash under their owner’s immediate control so long as the owner or person in possession of the dog (1) exercises that degree of control that enables such person to recall the dog on command, and (2) has a leash on his person at all times so as to be able to restrain the dog if necessary.”
Be careful leaving valuable in car. Our car was broken into. Window shattered. Purse and other valuables stolen. Used my debit and credit cards and local stores. 7k in transactions attempted!! Some sadly approved. Not all declined. Beware
I am so sad to report and heartbroken, on October 29, 2019 all the single track trails in the park have been bulldozed crisscrossing the fire road as a prevention in case the fire decide to turn backwards towards this area.
All the singletrack trails that I grew up running on and shown in the photos are now gone, instead now its a flat three lane wide tractor road of crumbling dirt and small rocks that now resembles more of a construction site than a nature park. You cant really walk on it, let alone run or bike on it.
This was easily my favorite place to go in the evenings and would regularly go on my runs there and get my important dose of nature.
Our fire department has done an incredible job protecting and fighting the fires and very thankful for their service however I question whether it was necessary to remove and destroy such a wonderful single track trails system in the park? RIP
Is it still open now?
Is the trail open now (Dec. 9, 2000)