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Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail Trek 2012

Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: What are the toilet facilities like?
Each night we will be camping at an established campground with toilet facilities. There will be periodic "split breaks" on the trail during the day.

Q: Will we be in areas where we can get cell phone coverage?
There is usually poor cell phone coverage in the campgrounds. However, during the days we will be hiking over and along high ridges, which usually permit cell phone service.

Q: During the trek, will we be reachable in the event of an emergency?
Prior to the trek, you will be provided with an emergency number which friends or family may use to get in touch in case of an emergency.

Q: Will special dietary needs be accommodated?
Special dietary needs can be accommodated if the staff is notified in advance. Send your requirements to the BBTrek coordinator at

Q: I am a slow hiker. How fast is the pace?
We usually maintain a pace of about 2 miles per hour. However, we accommodate hikers of all abilities. There will be plenty of time to enjoy the views, take pictures, etc. Each day's hike is classified as moderate or difficult. However, keep in mind a 10-mile hike every day, with elevation changes, may have a cumulative effect on one's physical condition, increasing the difficulty as the hike progresses day to day.

Q: I am curious about where the camping sites are located. I'm not aware of enough campgrounds spaced at the necessary distances for the hike.
Three of the campgrounds are on or near the trail: La Jolla Group Camp, Danielson Group Campground and Musch Camp. For the other nights, van shuttles will be provided to/from the trailheads. Campgrounds for each night of the trek are listed in the "On The Trail > Daily Schedule" page on the Backbone Trek 2012 page of the SMMTC website

Q: Will there be time on the hikes to do some geocaching?
Yes. We will maintain a pace to allow everyone time to enjoy the views, take pictures, geocache, etc. The SMMTC website has recently been updated to include a page on geocaching, including a list of all the geocaches along the Backbone Trail.

Q: Do you anticipate there will be many wildflowers this year?
We typically see 140 to 150 blooming species during the hike. Even in low rainfall years we manage to see many different flowers. If you need a reference for wildflowers in the Santa Monica Mountains, we recommend Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Milt McAuley, second edition, 1996. Also check out last year's account of wildflower sightings during the Backbone Trek.

Q: Will we be exposed to Poison Oak on the Backbone Trail?
Yes. We can expect to encounter Poison Oak on many sections of the trail. All hikers should be sure to bring protective clothing such as long pants and long sleeve shirts. If you are one of those folks who have a reaction to the plant, you should consider bringing a treatment such as "Tecnu®").

Q: Will there be facilities to recharge the batteries in our cell phone and camera?
Yes. Some of the campgrounds have electric outlets. We will also have a portable charging station available for the other sites. Be sure to bring your adapter for AC or auto outlets.

Q: Will we have to pump water?
No. There is potable water in all the campgrounds. You will have carry your full day's supply each day on the trail.