This Part of the Backbone

Hike the Ray Miller Trail in Point Mugu State Park

The Ray Miller Trail comprises the final stretch of the Backbone Trail in Malibu’s Point Mugu State Park, an idyllic moderate beach hike during spring and early summer. This well-maintained 5.1-mile out-and-back begins right off PCH and zigzags via gradual switchbacks to a 1,000-foot elevation, offering numerous ocean vistas from atop the tranquil La Jolla Canyon.

The climb begins at the trailhead on the north side of the parking lot and shortly reaches a bend that curves around a small campsite. Follow the trail upward; yucca flowers festoon the rocky hillside in spring, as do wooly sapphire, violet snapdragons, and the small white flowers of rattlesnake weed meandering lazily across the dry slopes of the chaparral. The floral punch may be waning now that it’s early summer, but there’s an ocean view that’s a staple of this hike and a place to feel the cool Pacific breeze (the trail is overall quite exposed so avoid hiking in the thick of heat).

Halfway up the switchbacks is a coastal panorama showcasing Point Mugu Rock to the west and Sycamore Cove to the east, with the elegant silhouette of the Channel Islands sitting neatly off the shoreline. At the end of the 2.7-mile incline you can see the top of distant Boney Mountain and connect to other trails along Sycamore Canyon via the Backbone Trail, or simply turn around and enjoy the gradual descent back to the parking lot. 

Take the I-10 W to Pacific Coast Hwy. (CA-1) and follow CA-1 N to Ventura County. The parking lot is located a few hundred feet off PCH, or you can park on the street for free. No dogs.

 Story and photos by Lena Marceca

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