|Where:||San Monica Mountains|
|Difficulty:||Easy to Moderate|
|Elevation gain:||1075 feet|
|Recommended:||Map of the area|
To get to the trailhead: Take PCH and go east on Yerba Buena Road. Drive here for 5.5 miles to Circle X Ranch Ranger Station to the right. The Ranger Station has maps and bathrooms available. Make sure you stop for a paper map here. Drive past the Ranch another mile until you hit the Sandstone Peak trailhead parking lot (make left). There is a bathroom here as well.
The day brought us gloomy weather, but was perfect as we were surrounded by little droplets of water lingering on plants and flowers. At the trailhead there were only a couple vehicles; we started up the hill on Backbone Trail and after about 1/3 of a mile we made a right to Mishe Mokwa Trail. This part of the trail offered us slight views of Yerba Buena Road. The trail turns left as the views of sandstone cliffs, Echo Cliffs come in sight. There were a couple mountain climbers getting ready to make their ascent as we trotted down the trail to a stream crossing.
At this point we had only passed a couple lone hikers. We reached Split Rock Picnic area after two miles and decided we didn’t need a break and headed upward for about a mile and half joining back up with Backbone Trail. This portion of the hike was well shaded until we turned left to continue on the loop to Sandstone Peak. We passed a turnoff for Inspiration point, which I could throw in an “inspire” quote, but this isn’t the only location that inspires. The views were limited as the thick fog rolled in.
Steadily climbing up for another mile we took a short side trail to reach the top of Sandstone Peak, which stands at 3,111 feet and is the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains. By this time we had passed groups of hikers that turned the silence into something else. Instead of spending some time at the peak we decided to head back down to our car. At this point we were aware that it was all downhill.
There are no fees or permits needed in this area, so go take advantage of the sandstone cliffs, the split rocks and the views that this area has to offer.
Note to self: Get here early in the morning to avoid the crowds.