Hikers on a portion of the Backbone Trail. National Park Service photo by Jim Belsley
Hikers on a portion of the Backbone Trail. National Park Service photo by Jim Belsley

The Backbone Trail, a 67-mile stretch from Los Angeles to Ventura County for hikers, is slated to open Saturday after 40 years in the works, the National Park Service announced.

The grand opening is the culmination of a four-decade effort between politicians and community officials, many of whom were delighted that the longtime project was finally coming to fruition.

“The Backbone Trail shows what a dedicated community can do if they set their minds to it,” said David Symanski, superintendent for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. He added that “when finished, the trail will form the spine of a 500-mile network of trails that connect the residents of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties to their public lands.”

Symanski said he was “honored” by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s involvement in the project, as the famed bodybuilder-turned-actor — along with fitness mogul Betty Weider — donated a 40-mile parcel of land based in Zuma.

Another major player in the high-profile project was California State Parks, which has amassed more than 60 percent of the land through which the trail passes. NPS officials estimated the value of the land at more than $100 million. CSP district superintendent Craig Sap said the organization takes great pride in “protecting and preserving some of the most pristine and undeveloped sections” of the trail.

The announcement of the trail’s pending opening is “a testament to the strength of our shared values” and “the power of idealism,” Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy executive director Joseph T. Edmiston said.

The Backbone Trail is set to open at 9 a.m. at Will Rogers State Historic Park, with admission free to the public.

— City News Service

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