Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hiking The Canyonback Trail

Located near Topanga State Park, the Canyonback Trail snakes its way from Sunset to Mulholland Drive. There is a Lower Canyonback Trail which starts at the top of Kenter Avenue off of Sunset and then it makes its way north to the Upper Canyonback Trail which ends at Mulholland Drive.

I was familiar with the area, having hiked Westridge Canyon before but this time I would be exploring the East ridge of the area.

The Lower Canyonback, while having some nice scenery, really doesn't put you in a wilderness mood because about 1/2 of its length you are walking on pavement/asphalt.

Eventually you do reach the typical SoCal fire road which takes you through the rest of the trail.

There are side trails (kayak trails as I call em) which for the most part seem to run parallel to the main trail. I decided to hike up this guy:

Of course, I was pushing hard, not settled into my rhythm so this uphill wiped me out for a bit. There are pretty views from up there and a bench with a few trees for shade if you are hiking on a real sunny day and it is definitely a kayak trail worth taking.

The rest of the trail is rather unremarkable, sadly. It is rather flat and while the ocean views are amazing if you look back (and another reminder how blessed we are here in SoCal) there is really nothing remarkable about this portion of the trail.

There is another high hill climb on a kayak trail but I was too wiped out by the first one to do this puppy. Its pretty steep but looks manageable.

By the time you reach this water tower, you are about 2 miles out.

You can continue on to the Upper Canyonback or head on back.

This was the first time during a hike that I had to hike through a neighborhood just to connect to the Upper Canyonback Trail.

As you can see it was super Richy-Rich-ville. When you exit from the Lower Canyonback Trail, just stay on Canyonback Trail, the street, and head North. Eventually you can access the trail just beyond the private tennis courts (I told ya it was a weird hike!).

This hike is also different just because of the amount of gates and obstacles that are put in your way. It seems a bit unfriendly if you ask me.

Still, the beauty of this hike awaits you on the Upper Canyonback Trail. You can access this trail from Mulholland but I suggest hiking South to North because then you get to experience some great kayak side trails that go uphill and make the hike a little more invigorating.

The Upper trail is part of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and it shows with a lack of concrete on the main fire roads as well as providing a great heard path/kayak trail for you to bounce around on, and bounce around on it you should.

This trail, which runs parallel to the main fire road,

goes up and over hills which give you great views of the surrounding countryside and the mountain ranges to the North.

The day was partially overcast which makes for nice hiking in SoCal. Since the trail doesn't put you through challenging calisthenics you should definitely take the opportunity to take some pics of the great scenery on display.

Finally, as you approach Mulholland you can either go up a final hill on a kayak trail or loop around it on the fire road. If you trail the trail, it is a bit scrambly but nothing too bad and the reward of making the summit is well worth it.

Then it back the way you came. The trail is 8 miles roundtrip or basically 2 miles out and 2 miles back for either the Upper or Lower sections.

Overall, I am not going to sit here on my couch, drinking hot coco, checking my Twitter feed while writing this post and tell you that it was my favorite hike. Some of the views are great and it is closer to LA than most but if you have other trails on your "to do" list, then maybe you should "save" this one till later. That being said, the Upper trail is pretty and I did like the terrain on the herd paths so perhaps stick to that one.

Here is a map that won't help you at all: http://www.lamountains.com/maps/westridge.pdf

Here are some great write-ups about the Upper and Lower portions of the trail:


  1. Sorry Pete. This looks like it was a terrible hike. Better luck in your future posts

  2. Haha thanks Anon, yea this wasn't one of the better ones. The Upper Canyonback does have the potential to get your legs moving with some nice scenery but I am not going back any time soon. Thanks for reading!


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