Route: Backbone Trail (CA)

California, US
67 mi
Vertical Gain
12,300 ft

The Backbone Trail is the continuous 67-mile trail across the mountains, from Will Rogers State Historic Park to Point Mugu State Park. The trail spans across ridgelines and canyons across the “backbone” of the Santa Monica Mountains. The Backbone Trail is managed by multiple agencies and can be accessed by using several trailheads, including at Will Rogers State Historic Park, Trippet Ranch in Topanga State Park, Lois Ewen Overlook, and trailheads along Piuma, Malibu Canyon, Corral Canyon, Latigo Canyon, and Kanan Dume Roads.

The Backbone Trail brochure and map is here:

At its eastern end, the BBT terminates at a junction with the Inspiration Loop Trail in Will Rogers Park.  But the FKT is TH-TH, so you must include your time running from (or to, if running west to east) an actual TH.  There are a few ways to do this in Will Rogers Park - your choice.


Jimmy Dean Freeman posted (12/17/2009):

A group of us will be looking to establish an (or is it just 'a') FKT for the Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail (BBT) tomorrow, Friday, December 18th. We'll be running in the Southeast to Northwest direction (Santa Monica to Pt Mugu or Will Rogers State Park to La Jolla Canyon / the Ray Miller Trail / Pt Mugu State Park).

The group consists of:
Jamil Coury, 24 - Tempe, AZ
Nick Coury, 22 - Tempe, AZ
Dom Grossman, 22 - Playa del Rey, CA
Eric Wickland, 27 - Agoura Hills, CA
Jimmy Dean Freeman, 33 - Los Angeles, CA

We will be Self-Supported with a few people coming out at presently unplanned points to 'see us go by, take pictures, etc.' We have established 4 caches of water and food breaking up the 68-mile trail run into manageable segments so we don't have to carry a lot.

If anyone would like more info on this OR looks to do this run/trail in the future, feel free to contact me...

As far as I know, no true FKT exists for the Backbone Trail as it has only recently been fully connected and a portion went through private property, not to mention the 4-parks it goes through generally discourage this type of activity. But I found info on Howard Cohen's site...

Howard did it in 16 hours, 37 minutes, which if you knew Howard, you'd never dispute. Eric Wickland and I (Jimmy Dean) did it this past April in 16 hours, 59 minutes. This time around we're looking to do something sub-16 hours, maybe even sub-15 (if ALL 5 of us have a good day and don't take too long at our caches).

Game on & Happy Friday!

Jimmy Dean


Howard Cohen added:

Jimmy, I will keep all in suspense and wait for you to post tonight's results. Regarding the 16:37 I ran in 2008, I did not do that alone. Checking my website you will see a link to some pictures. Sue Johnston joined me for the entire run on that day. I also was joined on various sections by Jonathan Stewart, Bill Kee, Jack Fierstadt and had first class aid and encouragement from Chris Scott. We had fun that day and I suspect you had a good time today as well.
Happy Trails, H'ard


One other important point is that Bruce Hoff provided some early motivation for me to find the BBT and run it. His route did not follow what is now the true Backbone as it rests today. His 13:54 is quite impressive but with route differences cannot be easily compared to the current BBT time. An account of his journey is linked from my BBT page noted in the original post. Bruce was a pioneer on the BBT and his efforts were and continue to be an inspiration others.

GPS Track


Can we post unsupported? Zac Barbiasz actually completed unsupported not self supported. I also know of the female unsupported fasted time. 

Hey Matthew,

Hope this reaches you well. If there are no fires, my friend will be attempting the female there and back. Wondering if you would be able to talk about your FKT. Also wondering where exactly you started, since it looks like there is one at the top of inspiration point loop, and at the bottom as you just get out of Will Rogers.

Please feel free to find me via gmail or social media, just my full name prestondanielgrant


Hi all! Sadly, the 2020 Barkley Marathons was just canceled so I'm hoping to turn my training into something productive: an FKT attempt on out-and-back crossing of the Backbone. Or, as I prefer calling it, a Back-To-Backbone. I'll begin at Will Rogers on Saturday, March 28th, and my attempt will be self-support due to the fact I'll need to cache some water. I just wanted to state my intentions ahead of time. Here's hoping!

Based off of the report written above, it looks like Jamil Coury's group was self-supported, not supported.

10/02/2020 Christopher Ferrier and Chad Bruce are making an attempt on the Out and Back Overall FKT for Backbone Trail in the supported style beginning at 7:00 PM tonight. Live tracking is available at this link:

I'll be making an effort for the supported FKT this Saturday, 11/7 starting at 5:30am. Once I have my spot tracker, I will post it. More details on the project can be found here:

I will be making an effort for the female supported FKT this Friday, 01/01/2021 starting at 4:00 AM PST. I plan on putting my Strava beacon link in my Instagram bio at the start (@shelbzzf). LFG!!!

Let it be Known!

Chad Bruce and I intent to set the unsupported FKT on Backbone Trail (CA) next weekend, February 20th, West to East - Ray Miller to Will Rogers.

We are not fast enough to compete for the overall, yet it would mean a great deal to us to have our names on the board. The experience we gained doing Self-Supported and Unsupported FKTs on the PCT in 2020 gave us the confidence needed to attempt this long carry.

Chad and I met on a sanctioned training run for the 2017 Coyote Cohort Backbone 68 Trail Race. Our friendship has grown steadily since. The BBT holds a strong personal meaning for us.

Chad and I made navigation errors on a 2020 BBT attempt. We aim to go the right way this time.

We will be leveraging these guidelines in our unsupported attempt:

Unsupported: ...public taps along the trail are fine...

Groups / Teams: Groups of people can employ any of the three styles as long as they all travel and finish together; a team may share gear and still be Unsupported.

Good luck Chad and Chris! I'll be rooting for you (from the comfort of my home.)

I'll be making an attempt this Saturday, 2/13/21, at Dima's impressive self-supported FKT on the east-to-west route. I'll have three caches set up, and will detail those in my report after the run if I'm lucky enough to join this esteemed group of runners.

Will have Coros Apex watch doing the precise tracking and inreach mini for rough tracking:

Wish me luck everyone! 


For work reasons, I have to move this attempt to Sunday. See you out there on 2/14/21!

Great minds think alike! I too will be running fully unsupported tomorrow, 2/20/2021. All packed up and ready to play! 7am start, with the plan of getting a decent breakfast in. #wafflesoverpancakes 

Hi everyone - I'll be making an attempt this Friday 2/26/21 on the east-to-west route. Will be posting the run on strava afterwards and will have rough live tracking available at:

I will not be caching any food/water. One question for the group though:

Will be refiling my water at the local firehouse adjacent to Encinal Trailhead (they have a hose right at the entrance). Would refilling my water there be external support? Trying to figure out if my attempt will be supported vs unsupported! Took a closer read at the guidelines and not 100% sure on this one. Thanks



nope, using public water sources available to everyone is allowed for unsupported 

they did change some other rules though where having a friend take a picture of you running through a parking lot is now “supported” smh

Just ran the BBT on Friday and the water is off at the entrance, you need to all the way in and use the hose bib under the awning.  In the new rules it says “ commercial source” I guess that needs to be defined if that’s commercial or not?  Good Luck on your crossing🏔🏃🏾‍♂️

@krasammy SEND IT! The water on course is plentiful with the right planning. I had a super humbling run yesterday-- hopefully you'll find my report helpful once it is published!

@dimasokolovskyy-- A co-worker and friend took a few pictures of me from afar at the Will Rogers start of my unsupported BBT run yesterday. It was completely unplanned-- I did not ask him to be there, he did not tell me he was going to be there, he just likes to take pictures, lives in the area, and had rough knowledge of when I was starting. I'll be really disappointed if that disqualifies my time from being unsupported. Eeek!

This trail rocks!!!

Thanks Dima! And appreciate the intel UltraRazzu - agreed that it would be helpful for more clarity on "commercial source". 

Def looking forward to the report Shelby. You CRUSHED it last weekend with the unsupported traverse - so impressive!

Christopher Ferrier and Chad Bruce set a FKT for this route with a time of 19:43:00 on 2/19/2021.  Great run gents!

If we set a FKT, as you say above, can you explain why you didn’t post our FKT up on the board?

Thank you for publishing our unsupported FKT.

Chad and I are going after the OAB this weekend.

Going for the unsupported FKT this weekend.