Before land for Malibu Creek State Park was acquired in 1974, it was divided into three parcels belonging to Bob Hope, Ronald Reagan, and 20th Century Fox. Although the park is still used for movie making, it’s primarily a haven for day hikers and picnickers.
Malibu Creek State Park is a sprawling chunk of parkland in the Santa Monica Mountains, hugging the Malibu Creek as it flows into the ocean, while also stretching east along the Backbone Trail. There are several distinct sections of the park, and we will hike the “lower canyon” area, along the trails that follow Malibu Creek through a striking section of the mountains known as the Goat Buttes.
Century Lake: We will start the hike with a leisurely stroll through the Grassland trail and meet up with Crags road. We will see a prominent concrete bridge crossing the creek that leads to the visitor center. We will veer right, keeping on Crags Road, and will cross Malibu Creek on another bridge, just north of Century Lake. Here, the landscape is more like a wetland, and during the spring months there are many migratory birds that make a stop in this area of the canyon. After crossing the creek, the road narrows considerably, and eventually turns into a single-track trail over some very rocky terrain.
M*A*S*H Movie site: The trail continues in this shaded section between the Goat Buttes, then comes upon the site of the M*A*S*H set. There’s not a whole lot left from the show, but there are two rusted but fairly well preserved vehicles. We will have a nice view of the prominent Goat Buttes that tower above the site and were featured in the opening shot of each episode.
We will then turn back and at the 4.7-mile mark we will reach the Forest Trail junction. It isn’t marked with a sign like many of the other side trails, but it’s a very clear path cut through the grass, just before we cross the bridge over the Creek.
The Forest Trail is a short stretch of track that hugs the southern banks of Century Lake, another artificial lake formed by a dam. The trail here is shady and cool, the result of some non-native trees such as Redwoods that were planted here some time ago. The trail is only a half-mile to the edge of the dam, where we will have to turn around and hike back the way we came. But the views from the dam and the reflections on the lake water are worth the short side-trip.
Rock Pool: One last stop before we head out is Rock Pool — a popular area for swimming and rock climbing. The “Swiss Family Robinson” television series and some Tarzan movies were ﬁlmed here. We may see a few climbers on the rock walls along the way. The trail ends at the aptly named Rock Pool. This is a very popular hangout. Relax, take a dip, or try your hand at climbing a bit? We will then return back to the Grassland Trail.
Directions to Trailhead
From Highway 101/Ventura Freeway, take Las Virgenes Road South for about 3 1/2 miles. Turn right on Mulholland Road. Go about 500 feet and park on either side of the road. Walk up the road until you see a sign for the Grasslands Trail. We will meet there.
From Paciﬁc Coast Highway, turn inland on Malibu Canyon Road and proceed 6.75 miles and turn left on Mulholland Highway. Go about 500 feet and park on either side of the road. Walk up the road until you see a sign for the Grasslands Trail. We will meet there.
Google map and directions:
What to Bring
Good hiking boots/shoes. Pack a lunch, snacks and bring plenty of water. Bring a hat/cap and sunscreen. We can go to a local restaurant after the hike for those who are interested.
Hike Leader: Menard Jaramillo. If you have any questions, please call at 323-804-4700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org