The scenic vista point at the top of Lake View Trail provides a beautiful view overlooking Malibu Lake and the surrounding mountains. The network of trails through Malibu Creek State Park offer several routes to the overlook, including a short 2.1-mile loop from a trailhead off Lake Vista Drive and a longer 4.1-mile out and back trek that begins down Cistern Trail from Mulholland Highway. The 4.1-mile hike goes downhill and then ascends to the to the top of Lake Vista Trail with 350 feet of elevation between the high and low points of the hike.
Park along Mulholland Highway and hike down the quarter mile long Cistern Trail to a T-junction with Lookout Trail. There are scenic views over the park along the way, including a great perspective of the Goat Buttes. Turn right at the junction and head west for 0.43 miles to a junction with Cage Creek Trail.
Continue straight ahead on a grassland-crossing single track named Yearling Trail. Just past the marked junction with Cage Creek Trail, there is an unmarked junction with Deer Leg Trail. Turn left here (or make the left at the next junction on a connection trail to Deer Leg Trail) and follow this trail to the base of Lake Vista Trail. Deer Leg Trail heads uphill into the trees for a short distance before turning sharply to the right. A footpath continues straight ahead down a slope toward Crags Road at the bottom of Cage Creek Trail, but this is not the way to Lake Vista Trail. If you miss the sharp right turn and begin a steep descent, it is time to backtrack.
Looking out at the Goat Buttes from the sharp turn on Deer Leg Trail
Crossing through the forest on Deer Leg Trail
Saplings arch over Deer Leg Trail to provide pleasant shade. Pass through a junction with the connection path coming up from Yearling Trail, and progress westward to the second of two picnic tables. Take the split to the left on Lake Vista Trail. The junction is unmarked and easy to bypass. Look for stone steps at the bottom of the trail to verify that you are on the right track. If Deer Leg Trail exits the forest and returns to grasslands toward a junction with Yearling Trail, you have missed it.
The bottom of Lake Vista Trail
Ascend the wooded ridge, gaining 275 feet over 0.72 miles. There are limited views through the trees until you reach the top of the ridge and are presented with a sublime view to the west over Malibu Lake. The lake looks seductive from this perch, a gleaming gem of water hidden by tall green mountains. The trail continues for 0.1 miles descending to a junction with an Edison service road. To the left, the road continues another 0.1 miles to a dead end that provides the greatest view of the slender Y-shaped lake.
Looking down on Malibu Lake
To the right of the junction, the road descends 170 feet over a third of a mile to a trailhead off Lake Vista Drive. The steep road has loose rutted soil and is not the best for hiking. If you are returning to the Cistern Trailhead, it is best to hike back via Lake Vista Trail.
Those who chose to start hiking from the nearby trailhead off Lake Vista Drive, which also provides access to Paramount Ranch, could hike east over asphalt for 0.37 miles to Reagan Ranch (once owned by the former president) at the west end of Yearling Trail. Take that horse-trodden single track for 0.13 miles to a V with the west end of Deer Leg Trail. Turn right and hike a quarter mile to the picnic table, and make a sharp right on to Lake Vista Trail. From the top of the trail, descend via the service road back to the trailhead off Lake Vista Drive for a 2.1-mile loop.
From Cistern Trail to Lake Vista Overlook is 4.1 miles out and back with 350 feet of elevation between the low and high points of the trail. The elevation profile of this hike is bowl-shaped with uphill hiking in both directions. Tack on Century Lake or the M*A*S*H set to extend this outing to 4.85 or 6.35 miles. There are exceptional views along Cistern Trail and from the end of Lake Vista Trail, making for a worthwhile hike.
To get to the trailhead: From Las Virgenes Canyon Road near the main entrance of Malibu Creek State Park, head west on Mulholland Highway for 1.8 miles. The trailhead is on the south side of the road, just east of a dirt turnout. The trail sign is set back from the road, making it difficult to spot. Just west of Cistern Trail is another trailhead on the north side of the road for Phantom Trail. This trail sign is easier to spot. Turn around when you see it, and the start of Cistern Trail will be apparent on the south side of the road.
Trailhead address: 27800 Mulholland Highway, Agoura Hills, CA 91301
Trailhead coordinates: 34.105305, -118.731889 (34° 06′ 19.09″N 118° 43′ 54.80″W)
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|Cistern, Lookout, and Cage Creek Trails|
This team of single tracks make a scenic descent to Century Lake in Malibu Creek State Park, providing a short loop or longer hikes to other destinations.
|Grassland Trail to Crags Road and Rock Pool|
This easy 3-mile hike enters Malibu Creek State Park on South Grassland Trail, then forms a loop around Crags Road to visit Rock Pool, a popular park retreat.
This hike visits the site where the exteriors of the television show MASH were filmed, a 4.75-mile trek from the park entrance.
|Lost Cabin Trail|
This 1.5-mile round trip extension to the MASH set hike dead-ends in a mountain canyon at the site of a now nonexistent cabin.
This 4.75-mile hike climbs 500 feet over a scenic mountain between Liberty Canyon and Las Virgenes Canyon.
|Malibu Creek Traverse|
This adventure hike explores the C-shaped gorge between Rock Pool and Century Lake in Malibu Creek State Park.
This segment of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area includes Western Town, an outdoor set cast as frontier towns in TV and film since the 1950s. There are also several miles of hiking trails to explore.
|More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains|
Explore other destinations in the range.
|Malibu Creek State Park|
The year-round campground has 63 sites with picnic tables, fire rings, flush toilets, coin showers, and a dump station.