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Cushy camping on L.A.'s trail from Pacific Palisades to Malibu



The Backbone Trail takes hikers from Pacific Palisades to Malibu on a single 67-mile trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. Most people hike L.A.’s newest trail in sections because there are few campgrounds and water stops along the way.

Trail Magic Adventures is out to change all that.

It’s the first company to offer guided hikes and all-inclusive overnight camping as an option along the little-known coastal route. That means hikers can experience the high points and wide-angle ocean views without having to carry a heavy backpack.

“The idea is to keep it as simple as possible, to make it available to people who aren’t hard-core backpackers,” spokesman Austin Sacks says.

You still have to notch the miles, but it’s a cushy (and somewhat pricey) way to go.

The trail runs through state and federal public lands — east to west, from Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades to Point Mugu State Park in Ventura County. Trail Magic breaks the route into five sections, about 10 to 15 miles each, that hikers can choose for a day hike, weekend camping trip, or week-long adventure to complete the whole thing.

Trail Magic relies on private campgrounds on the route to provide tents, sleeping bags and hot meals. Hikers carry only personal belongings in a day pack and show up when it’s time to bed down. During the trip, participants learn about plant life and the coastal scrub habitat as well as leave-no-trace camping principles.

Trips are offered year-round; you can ask for a customized outing or join a group. Three-day, two-night journeys cost $599 per person, and a single-night camping trip runs $399 per person.

Guides Sasha Blanchard and Keith Thomas co-founded the company with Sasha’s dad, Greg Blanchard, who helped with the business side. They took a few years to get going. It took time to contact more than 40 private landowners to find suitable camping sites, and file permits with state and federal authorities to operate their business.

The Backbone Trail was completed in 2016 after the last parcel of land was donated. It took more than four decades for environmentalists, activists, state and national parks and other agencies to piece together the route and create a dozen entry points.

Five public campgrounds are available on the trail, but they aren’t well spaced out; there’s a 30-mile gap between two of the sites, and one doesn’t have water available.

Info: Trail Magic Adventures



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