Summary: Just when I thought I'd seen it all in the Santa Monica Mountains this hike is a real gem and even reminded me of views in the Grand Canyon at times. Another spectacular section of the Backbone Trail this hike includes staggering views of pink colored sedimentary rock formations. Proceed over the creek near the Topanga trailhead and up steadily thru beautifully shaded live oaks and a sloping green meadow. Before long you will come to a wonderful pink gorge down on the right and you can take a side path down to it past a small waterfall. Once back at the main trail you will begin switch backing up the steep south slope of Hondo Canyon thru a lovely oak forest and then a deep chaparral forest. Along the way you will enjoy breathtaking views of sedimentary rock formations known as the Sespe Formation. If you are feeling adventurous keep on hiking all the way up to Saddle Peak which has ocean views and adds another mile or so to this route.
Trailhead: The trailhead with street parking is off Old Topanga Canyon Road 0.4 miles just before the junction with Topanga Canyon Blvd. The Hondo Canyon trail is part of the Backbone Trail. If you want to do a car shuttle a good idea would be to hike downhill from the upper traihead which is located located at mile 0.60 on Saddle Peak Road (0.6 mile east of Stunt Road). (Lat:34.0927126060473 Lon:-118.608010294907)
Trail Guides for Hondo Canyon:
Afoot and Afield in Los Angeles
by Jerry Schad (Wilderness Press)
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers, Horses,
Ranger Contact: California State Parks, (818) 880-0350
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Eric Altizer, who has posted 13 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 7 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Samantha on 2/28/2013
Wow what a pristine day, today was!!! Warm and inviting, the weather is getting nicer, ready for more adventures :-) My Hiking friend and I did this trail today, it was such a pristine California day!! The sunshine warm on your shoulders. This trail was very easy to find, a sweet hike in, but mostly up hill, then a lot of up and down through shaded areas, we went farther up to Saddle peak area. There was a gentle creek to enjoy as well at the beginning of the hike. At one point my friend & I were enjoying a peaceful moment and frogs started making noise, we both giggled and looked at each other. If you want a peaceful afternoon, this is the place. Plus, its a nice Run down hill!
Reviewed by A.G and S.O. on 8/13/2012
Went on very hot day but the trail was nice and shady. It was a longer than the 2miles the sign on top said 3.6 miles. you must bring lots of water because of the steep incline also was disappointed that the creek was dry and no waterfall other wise a great hike and will due it again
Reviewed by Will G on 6/30/2012
I did this hike Wednesday, I started at 10 because I just could not find the trailhead. I am not sure if I even did Hondo Canyon, because at the end where I started (Old stagecoach road trailhead) it said "backbone trail" and then at the end of the hike it said Hondo at the top. But the trail map on the site was a different route. Very confusing and I think others had the same problem after reading reviews. This hike took me 2 hrs up with a few short breaks and then I went on another side trail at the top to the very peak with the towers at the top. I recommend doing this hike in the early morning or later in the day as the mid-day sun was brutal. But definitely a great hike overall with ocean views on the extra trail to the peak.
Reviewed by Neil on 3/31/2012
My wife and I hiked this trail on Friday Mar 30th and it was in really good condition. We only saw one couple on the way in and one on the way out. We basically had a 6 mile stretch of this hike all to ourselves. We went from Old Canyon Rd all the way to the Topanga Canyon Overlook. Highly recommend it. Took us 4hrs round trip. Diversity is what makes this hike 4 Stars.
Reviewed by E.W.H. on 8/10/2011
Loved this hike. Stunning views and varied terrain. The distance and difficulty info are WAY off though. I would call this a fairly strenuous hike and it is much further than 2.12 miles each way. We did the hike all the way to Saddle Peak, to what seemed like an old helipad, and that was 10 miles, round trip, as told by our GPS. So do this hike, because it's awesome, but bring lots of water, and be prepared to cover some ground.
Reviewed by Cgg on 5/1/2011
Lovely day, may 1, 2011. Light breezes and lots of tree shade. Trail well maintained.
Reviewed by A.R.T. on 4/3/2011
Did a partial hike of the Trail today. Parts of the trail are rather wet and bikers have thrashed parts of the trail. Great views. Lots of overgrowth of poison oak after the recent rains so be careful.
Reviewed by A&J on 9/19/2010
As novice young hikers interested in exploring while getting some exercise, we were really thrilled with this hike. I would call it moderate + and not great for beginners or kids. There were a few times that I had to stop because the uphill nature of the hike is constant. We hiked for about 2 hours and decided to head back because it was getting late. The trailhead is marked with a sign called "Backbone Trail" but is easy to miss off of Old Topanga Road. Also, bring more water than you normally would. Lots of wonderful shady spots. Only a few other hikers on the trail. There are lots of lizards, birds & critters near the trail so keep your eye out. We plan to return and complete this hike soon!
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