Hikers should always take precautions, and special care should be observed when hiking the Backbone Trail.
Always let someone know where you're going. Carry plenty of water, even on cool days. Stay on trails. Bring a hat and sunscreen, and leave the dog at home. Learn to recognize, and avoid, poison oak.
Backbone Trail hikers face an added risk. There's a fair chance that they will get lost.
Although clear enough most of the way, the trail was, on a recent hike, abysmally marked in a few key places, including trail and road junctions. In a couple of spots, the trail seemed to disappear, and there were no signs to help.
Elsewhere, the Backbone hitchhiked onto local trails, but signs failed to explain which of these was also the Backbone. These situations are likely to create considerable confusion for first-time hikers of the trail, even those with experience.