Alan Alda Was Here
by Brian Larkowski
Malibu Creek Trail
My wife, Cheri and I hiked this trail and had a great day there. We ended up at the site where MASH was filmed, and also hiked back to the lake. It was one of the nicest day hikes we've been on, and finished the day in the parking lot with a frosty cold beverage.
From the parking area, follow the wide ?re road. You'll cross the all-but-dry creek. The road soon forks into a high road and a low road. Go right and walk along the oak-shaded high road, which makes a long, lazy left arc as it follows the north bank of Malibu Creek. You'll reach an intersection and turn left on a short road that crosses a bridge over Malibu Creek.
You'll spot the Gorge Trail and follow it upstream a short distance to the gorge, one of the most dramatic sights in the Santa Monica Mountains. Malibu Creek makes a hairpin turn through 400-foot volcanic rock cliffs and cascades into aptly named Rock Pool. The "Swiss Family Robinson" television series and some Tarzan movies were ?lmed here.
Return to the trailhead or retrace your steps back to the high road and bear left toward Century Lake. As the road ascends you'll be treated to a ?ne view of Las Virgenes Valley. When you gain the crest of the hill, you'll look down on Century Lake. Near the lake are hills of porous lava and topsy-turvy sedimentary rock layers that tell of the violent geologic upheaval that formed Malibu Canyon. The lake was scooped out by members of Crag's Country Club, a group of wealthy, turn of-the-century businessmen who had a nearby lodge.
You can call it a day here, or continue on the ?re road past Century Lake. You'll pass the location of the now-removed set for the "M*A*S*H" television series. The prominent Goat Buttes that tower above Malibu Creek were featured in the opening shot of each episode.
Here's more info about the park:
The park features hiking, fishing, bird watching and horseback riding opportunities. There are 15 miles of streamside trails through oak and sycamore woodlands on chaparral covered slopes. The park was the center of Chumash Native American life for centuries, and was once used to film numerous movies and TV shows, such as Planet of the Apes and M*A*S*H. 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 moviemaking, it's primarily a haven for day hikers and picnickers.
Directions to trailhead: From Paci?c Coast Highway, turn inland on Malibu Canyon Road and proceed 6.5 miles to the park entrance, 0.25 mile south of Mulholland Highway. If you're coming from the San Fernando Valley, exit the Ventura Freeway (101) on Las Virgenes Road and continue four miles to the park entrance.
Day Use Fee: $12
Submitted by Brian Larkowski avid hiker and author of "Careers in 21st Century Weatherization" weatherizationbook.com