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Backbone Trail continued


  weren’t for the general public, neighbors, nonprofit advo- cates, agencies, and supportive elected officials who spent enormous amounts of time battling development and negoti- ating open space and public access. Hike on, trail comrades! Well, not just hike on, but on Mesa Peak Motorway west all the way to Circle X Ranch, you can bike on, with the next 22 miles open to mountain biking. The Backbone Trail is fully open for hiking and horseback riding, but only some stretch- es are multi-use. Likewise, dog-walking is allowed only on certain stretches. Plan your visit.


Have you ever noticed the last 10% of a project takes lon- ger than the first 90%? The 14 “Go-Go Years” (1978-1993) yielded nearly 6,000 acres of park land, 31 miles of Backbone Trail, and 51 total miles open to the public. The remaining 518 acres and 16 miles of trail took nearly 23 more years. It was likely the chance to celebrate Backbone Trail com- pletion during the 2016 National Park Service Centennial that inspired the remaining landowners to embrace the trail and sell their land. One of the remaining


parcels was jointly owned by actor and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and fitness guru Joe Weider’s wife, Betty Weider. They actually donated their 40-acre property, the only landowners to do so along the whole route.


During this long slow era we did have a full-time NPS trail crew, and the era of the SWECO and supply-tot- ing Gator reigned supreme. These trails aren’t Ron Webster footpaths, but they are built to keep trail grades down to reduce erosion and


The trail in the Newton Canyon area near Snakebite Ridge Overlook The trail provides reminders of its proximity to a major urban area


discourage speeding or too much downhill pounding on the knees. We just walked up a 2.6-mile stretch that is so flat that you can hardly believe you just gained 625 feet eleva- tion. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll be there in the spring to see the spectacle of the big pod ceanothus in bloom cov- ering the hills. We are now in the western Santa Monica Mountains atop Sandstone Peak, the highest peak at 3,111 feet. Let’s begin our final descent down across Boney Mountain State Wilderness in Point Mugu State Park, 15 miles to go. Our individual and collective


problems and the human built world, while real to us on a daily basis, feel now as ephemeral as many streams in the mountains and ultimately subservient to the forces of nature. It’s our final day, and we’re descending Ray Miller Trail and we can almost touch all five Channel Islands. We’re at the trailhead finish line. Let’s cross Pacific Coast Highway and put our tired feet into the cold water.


On June 4, 2016, some 350 people celebrated completion of the 67-mile Backbone Trail and its designation as a National Recreation Trail. Fifty years of this long endurance ride illustrate the willingness of so many to persevere in this vision to have a cross-mountain trail for all to enjoy now and for future generations to come.


View from the trail in the Mesa Peak Motorway area 28 FALL 2016 AmericanTrails.org


For more information on visiting the trail, see https://www.nps. gov/samo/planyourvisit/backbonetrail.htm.


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