**As of November 18, 2018, 88% of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area has burned in the Woolsey Fire. Most of the park and ALL of the trails are closed until further notice. Please refer to the park’s official National Parks page or their Facebook page for the latest information regarding public access and the welfare of the park’s resident mountain lions and bobcats.**
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the nation’s largest urban National Park unit at more than 153,000 acres, and is central to the millions of people living in the Los Angeles metropolitan area of Southern California. It was established in 1978 and is primarily administered by the National Park Service.
This area is comprised of a wide variety of environments and micro-climates, including urban areas such as Runyon Canyon Park in the middle of Los Angeles, along the coast, and throughout the Santa Monica mountain range for which it is named. Natural freshwater sources are seasonal, and typically dry, although Solstice Canyon just north of Malibu features a year-round waterfall. It has many plants native to the Mediterranean climate, one of only a handful of such places in the world. Wildlife is wildly varied, from the critters in the Pacific Ocean to mountain lions in the backcountry.
I explored some of the mountain areas of the backcountry while hiking a section of the Backbone Trail in March, 2017. There are more than 500 miles of trail in this site!
The Santa Monica Mountains NRA is comprised of many parcels of public lands, administered by a variety of agencies, including the NPS and the California Department of Parks and Recreation. As such, fees, permit requirements, and available camping accommodations vary from site to site. The webpage administered by the NPS (the first bullet below) is the best starting point for research in planning your visit to this incredibly diverse public land.
Scroll down to learn more about this site and for visitor resources!