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Having grown up in the 80’s, the TV show MASH was a huge part of my childhood. Finding out that we could actually hike to the filming site (and that it was just an hour from my home in Orange County, CA) was incredibly exciting (ok, honestly, maybe a tiny bit too exciting). These tips will help you bring the right necessities, locate parking and easily navigate your hike to the MASH site!
Side tidbit… about three years ago we took our 18 year old daughter to New York to drop her off at college. While there we spent a few extra days and did “Kaela’s tour of New York” at her request (which included the firehouse from Ghostbusters, the restaurant and office from Men In Black, Central Park bridge from Enchanted and the bar from How I Met Your Mother). She loved it. I had a different experience. The firehouse was nostalgic, but didn’t blow my mind. That said, the MASH set…totally different. If you were a MASH fan, there is something inherently odd and cool about standing in The Swamp and seeing the mountains surrounding you!
Before You Go
Make sure that you pack sunscreen, water and snacks! Expect to spend about 2 to 5 hours at the park. the entire hike is about 5 miles. There are so many things to explore at Malibu Creek State park. If you’d like to extend the hike, you’ll have no problem. Another huge tip: if you are anything like me and your body flips out from Poison Oak, make sure that you wear long sleeves and pants. It is abundant in this park!
Download a map to your phone or purchase one. We love Avenza maps and you can download their map at this link for $0.99. I also recommend printing this map to take with you. The beginning of the hike is confusing due to huge water runoff this spring. However, I’ve tried to add as many pictures as possible, to help you find your way.
Getting To Malibu Creek State Park
The address for your gps is 1925 Las Virgenes Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302. You can find extra information regarding park hours here. Parking is $12 per day or you may use your annual state park pass. It will work at this location.
Parking and Trailhead
After passing the ranger hut, there will be a parking lot on the left with picnic tables but, keep going. The next parking lot (again on your left) is the best place to park. You will see bathrooms and the trail head begins right behind them. The pictures below are the view of the parking lot from the road and the bathrooms.
There is a small walkway downhill and several steps through a canopy arch of trees (looks like pictures below).
Next you’ll see a river and small swimming pool with a bridge that crosses the water.
When you see this sign for Crags Road know that you’re on the right path.
The road is paved and takes you up a small hill. It veers to the right and turns into a dirt road (High Road Trail). You’ll see the hill below on your right. There will be a fork in the road that goes across the river. If the water isn’t high you can take this road to get to the visitor center, but we suggest staying on the dirt road on the right. You’ll see some of the most amazing, old oak trees of your life!
This, my friends is the view to the left!
Continue following the road until you see porta potties and a road to your left. This will take you over a bridge to the visitor center. It is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 4. They have native wildlife and vegetation exhibits, a kid’s room and cold drinks for sale. My favorite part was a complete list of the films that have been made in the park, including my all time favorite, The Lost Horizon.
After the visitor center, follow the trail back over the bridge and continue on the road to the left.
***Note: There is another trail before the road which is a short up and back trail that will take you to a swimming hole called Rock Pool Trail. This area is extremely popular in the afternoon and is ranked as one of the best swimming holes in Southern California. It is worth checking out before or after your hike! Check out the picture below, the majority of traffic in the park were headed to this swimming location.
After you turn left, the road is called Crags Road on your map. Follow the signs towards the MASH site and Century Lake. The path will take you up a hill. Century Lake is on the way to the MASH site and a short distance off of Crags Road.
At the top of the hill you’ll see a sign on the left for Century Lake. It is a short detour and worth the ten minutes. Again, watch out for Poison Oak!
When you are ready to get back on Crags Road to continue to the MASH site you can take the trail around the lake which meets with Crags or return the same way. Follow the road past Lookout Trail (on your right). Soon you’ll see and cross this old washed out bridge and reach this trail marker. Continue following the trail.
We passed a docent on the hike who explained to us that in April the area we were walking in was under four feet of water (we hiked in July). So, it is important to point out that large amounts of water move through this area in the winter months. Evidence of this is everywhere. Trees toppled, damage to the bridges and roads/trails being washed out. You’ll start to recognize the mountains and skyline from the show at about this point.
You’ve arrived when you see this ambulance. Yes, it is one of the ambulances they used during the filming of MASH!
Hope you have a great hike! – Laura