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The Burned-Over Backbone Trail Is Green Again For Thanksgiving Hikers

Woman hiking with a small boy as a man approaches  along a trail.
Georgia Davis walks with her son Oliver, 3, on the Backbone Trail as hiker Ivan Soriano approaches
(Sharon McNary/LAist)
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Some Angelenos braved the Santa Ana winds Thursday to run and hike the Backbone Trail, getting an active start to their Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

“It's great to be outdoors, to relieve stress,” said Regina Olivas of Santa Monica. “You get to hang out with your friends.”

She had just finished an eight-mile run on an out-and-back route starting at the Kana Road trailhead. The 67-mile Backbone Trail traverses a number of canyon roads, which makes it a great hike to divide into multi-mile segments.

Two women in trail-running hydration vests and hats on a trail
Jennifer Wilson and friend Regina Olivas after their 8-mile run on the Backbone Trail.
(Sharon McNary/LAist)
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Much of the trail, which runs from Will Rogers State Park to Point Mugu, burned in the 2018 Woolsey Fire. But a good amount of green is poking through the charred trees.

It's really beautiful to see how the growth of it is coming back,” she said.

Getting outdoors to enjoy Southern California’s sunshine and wildlife just a short drive away is as much a Thanksgiving holiday tradition as standing in line at a big box store hunting for Black Friday bargains.

 Charred tree and mountainous landscape
A charred tree along the Backbone Trail
(Sharon McNary/LAist)

Lee Davis and his wife Georgie brought son Oliver, 3 and baby Roscoe to the trail for the first time.

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We've lived around here for a year, and we have gone past this (trailhead) pretty often and we haven't done it,” Georgie Davis said. They hoped to walk about three miles on the trail.

Oliver was using a pair of walking sticks, while Roscoe was in a baby carrier on his mother’s chest. Lee had a child-carrying pack on his back, for when Oliver tired out.

Pink painted rock with lettering that says "Get your shine on" in the dirt at the base of a trailhead sign
Someone left a pink-painted rock with a cheery note at the base of the trailhead sign on the Backbone Trail
(Sharon McNary/LAist)

A group of National Park Service volunteers had been hosting a series of eight organized hikes each January that would take participants the full 67-mile length of the trail over the course of 16 weeks. But the popular program had to be suspended after the Woolsey Fire and then the pandemic, said volunteer Ralph Waycott. A new tour is not planned for 2022, but the trail is open for individuals and groups to explore.

Regina Olivas said she might come back for more hiking this weekend. Her running friend Jennifer Wilson, though, had other plans.

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No, I'm going Black Friday shopping,” she said.

What do you want to know about how we Play in L.A.?
And, how do you play? Sharon McNary wants to hear your questions and stories about affordable, accessible and inclusive ways we stay active for physical and mental health. 🚵🏻‍♀️ 🎳 🛶 🏕 ⚽️ 💃 🏄🏾‍♂️ 👨🏿‍🦽 🏃🏽‍♀️ 🏓 🛹 🤹🏻‍♀️