Linda at Western States
Linda riding along the beach
Linda and Ruth on Horses
Linda at Work on the Trails

Linda Palmer 1932-2013

Her Legacy

Linda Palmer’s legacy is the public’s benefit of her trail work.  Everyone who uses a trail in the Santa Monica Mountains will benefit from Linda’s untiring efforts and farsighted vision about trails

Linda's Backstory

She was born in Glendora in 1932 as Linda Williams; she lived her early years in Fallbrook; and she died in Calabasas on June 22, 2013. As a Los Angeles County native, she was a loving wife, a nurturing mother and grandmother and a retired actress. She became an ardent and active open space and trails enthusiast when the family moved to the Santa Monica Mountains in 1975 with their horses.


She helped design and promote Los Angeles County’s Trail Plan for the Santa Monica Mountains, an arduous task that she undertook and accomplished.  Others worked with her, and the resulting public trails give us places for physical, mental and emotional respite.

Linda designed the Upper Stunt High Trail in Calabasas and she also had a hand in building the trail.  She literally crawled on her belly or on all fours under and through the brush. It must be noted that stickers, thorns and the occasional snake made laying out the route a bit more interesting. Crawling through the brush tying surveyor’s tape for others to follow behind to clear a path for the trail is not for the weak of spirit! 

She was appointed to the Santa Monica Mountains Advisory Committee in 1980; and she served with dedication and good advice, always researching problems to figure out how best to resolve them. With a few years off, she served for a total of 24 years.

In 1984, she coordinated the feasibility study for the Los Angeles County portion of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.  In 1993-94 she co-chaired the Anza Trail Plan Task Force to assist the National Park Service with the specific plan through Los Angeles County. 

She was an Advisor to both Los Angeles County and Ventura County and their cities involving the Santa Monica Mountains.  Further, she spent countless days and hours at the California Coastal Commission hearings regarding trail issues. She would always speak about issues using research, knowledge, and fairness.  She was the calm mediator when there were issues fraught with bias and divisiveness.

Linda was President of the Trails Council for fourteen years, 1981 through 1994; then was vice president for the years 1998-2010.  She was the first Trail Crew Leader for the volunteer trail maintenance crews.  She was the keeper of the tools for the Trails Council, and all the crew knew where her garage was.  She had the Trails Council telephone in her home; and she & Bob personally paid the bill for many, many years. In a nutshell – she was the embodiment of the Trails Council.

Linda was the catalyst to coordinate trail projects.  She established the adopt-a-trail program in the Santa Monica Mountains; encouraged workshops for training trail crews; and supported utilizing people assigned for public service by the courts to work on trails.

In addition to all of the above:

  • Served on the Boards of her property owner associations – the Cold Creek POA and Monte Nido Valley POA, and was a delegate to the Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation
  • Led nature walks as a member of the Cold Creek Docents
  • Patrolled with the Mounted Assistant Unit (MAU) at Malibu Creek State Park
  • Trail coordinator for Equestrian Trails Inc. Corral 63
  • Designed the trail plan for Leona Valley, and was advisor to Antelope Valley Trails Association
  • Advisor to both Los Angeles and Ventura Counties and their cities involving the Santa Monica Mountains, as well as to the California Coastal Commission, regarding trail issues
  • Served on the Technical Advisory Committee for Ventura County’s Trails & Pathways Plan
  • Member of Public Advisory Committee of Ventura Freeway Area Plan for LA County 1993-94 Member of the California Trail Days Committee for twenty-one (21) years


  • Samuel G. Lutz Memorial Award in 1987 for volunteerism in the Santa Monica Mountains.
  • Equestrian of the Year 1987– from Greater Los Angeles Equestrian Association.
  • 1992 Citizen of the Year from Las Virgenes Homeowners Federation.
  • Award from Malibu Trails Association in 1994.
  • Award from Recreation & Equestrian Coalition (REC) 2001.
  • Recognition by Los Angles County Board of Supervisors in 1995 and 2001.
  • Hank Grateful Award from the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council 2010.

These are email responses from when the notice was sent of her passing in June 2013

"Her efforts to create and protect trails will be timeless.  I'm thankful to have worked with her.
Woody Smeck, Superintendent of Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

  • Linda's memory will be honored by every footfall and hoofbeat on the trails of the Santa Monica Mountains. Her dedication should be an inspiration to all of us.    Gary Boyle
  • Very sorry to hear of Linda's passing.  She opened my eyes to the value of trails probably 30 plus years ago.  She was a profoundly beautiful and knowledgeable person.  I admired her calm strength.  My heart goes out to her family for their loss.    Gary Harryman
  • I'll always remember her as a gentle, considerate soul.  When we attended Grant's 90th, she reminded me of a time when both of us were coming around a corner on the Topanga trails - bumped head on, and both fell off.  We sure had a good laugh over that one.  She was a dear and we'll miss her.     Reggie & Dick Fonseca
  • I was so happy to see Linda at Grant's memorial. She looked so good it came as a shock to see your email. I'm glad that I got to see her one last time. Linda and Milt were my trail mentors, and I learned so much from them. Not just trail stuff, but life stuff as well. I am trying to live up to their example concerning trails. There is no way I would be as effective an advocate for trails and open space.   Burt Elliott
  • Linda was a trails heroine.  Always the go-to person when I needed some background on a trail in the mountains.  And always, always so lovely and gracious.  All of us at NPS will miss her greatly.   Melanie Beck
  • I'm so sorry to hear about Linda's passing. but as you said, she is no longer in pain.  When I think about her, I always picture her crawling through the bushes, setting out stakes for a new trail.  She will be missed.  Claudette Rice  
    Such a dear, dear person and stalwart supporter of open space.   I’m so glad the Conservancy Board and Advisory Committee were able to honor her at a meeting at King Gillette Ranch about a year and a half ago, while she was well enough to attend and hear all the accolades from everyone.  She will be so missed.      Rorie Skei
  • I am so sorry to hear of Linda's passing, but glad she is no longer suffering.  She was a truly gracious and lovely person.  I well remember meeting both of you for the first time on the same day when we went for a hike in Point Mugu State Park to look at a trail.  May she rest in peace.     Suzanne Goode
  • This is a very sad day indeed.  I have really missed Linda on the trails the last couple of years. I learned a lot from her and she was always a pleasure to work with on the trails.  Linda was a bright flower on the trail.  She will be sorely missed by all that knew her.    Jerry Mitcham
  • Yes, she was one of the originals, strong advocate for open space and trails. And, a really lovely woman. Thank you, Ruth, for letting us know she is now at peace.    Susan Nissman
  • I’m sorry to hear of her passing.  I’ve only met her briefly, but she sure touched all in the trails community.  I will pass this sad news to my colleagues at the County.     Francis Yee
  • I liked Linda as a person and greatly respected her knowledge of the Santa Monica Mountains.  Linda was the first person I thought of when I had questions about trails in the SMM, and she was always so willing to help; it was a pleasure to work with her over the years.  I’m sad to lose Linda, but I know, like you say, that she is no longer in pain.  My thoughts and prayers are with her family.   Gina Natoli
  • So sad this happened to her.  A truly good soul.  I support your efforts for the Conservancy to hold a celebration of her life.  Nancy Helsley
  • My last conversation with Linda and Bob gave me the feeling that the time was imminent.  As I told you, Linda was so special, so strong in mind and spirit.    Love, Joanne Hubbard
  • Like I told Mary Ann, I was very fond of Linda.  Like you, she always made me feel welcomed... Bill Vanderberg
  • Linda was an amazing person and she fought hard.  Her kindness, warmth and smile will not be forgotten.   Barb Thomas