Far from the Hollywood Sign and the Walk of Fame, Malibu Creek State Park holds its own bit of Hollywood history. The exterior set for the long-running television show M*A*S*H was filmed in a Korea-resembling corner of park. While the medic tents have been removed, the location is still recognizable, and Malibu Creek State Park has gone above and beyond to create a rich experience for hikers. The MASH set is located along Crags Road, the main hiking trail through the park. From the parking area at the park entrance to the old television set is 4.75-miles round trip with a mere 200 feet of elevation gain. The hike can be extended to 5.7 miles by entering the park via South Grassland Trail, or abbreviated to 3.6 miles by entering on Cistern Trail.
From the main parking lot (entrance fee required), begin hiking west on Crags Road into Malibu Creek State Park. After 0.2 miles, Grassland Trail joins Crags Road from the right. This is an alternate approach to the park, beginning from a trailhead along Mulholland Drive (with free roadside parking).
Continue northwest on Crags Road. The level creek-side fire road provides pleasant shade from overhanging oaks, along with fine views of the impressive Goat Buttes and surrounding peaks. Despite being the largest watershed in the Santa Monica Mountains, areas of Malibu Creek dry out completely in the fall. The creek flows strong in the spring and summer, and the mountain range is picturesque year round.
Two-thirds of a mile past the Grassland Trail junction, Crags Road passes through another marked junction. To the left, a split turns toward Rock Pool and the park ranger station. Straight ahead (to the right), Crags Road continues another 1.5 miles to the MASH site.
The road angles to the right before making a sharp turn to the left, heading gradually uphill. After 0.4 miles, a spur trail heads to the left down to Century Lake, a small peaceful reservoir that is worth the short detour. Just before the turnoff for Century Lake, there is a junction on the right side of Crags Road with Lookout Trail. This single track connects to Cistern Trail, another access route to Malibu Creek State Park.
A lot of side trails break off of Crags Road. Simply stick to the main corridor to reach the MASH site. The wide dirt trail passes Cage Creek Trail on the right, a quarter miles past Century Lake. This single track ascends to the other end of Lookout Trail below Mulholland Drive.
Crags Road continues through a grassy meadow, curving to the left and across the creek flowing into Century Lake. Just past the creek comes a junction with Forest Trail, which extends to the left down the backside of Century Lake. As always, stay on Crags Road and continue toward the MASH set. The level road narrows suddenly into a rocky track. Steep rock to the left and dense woods to the right isolate this stretch of the hike, making the last 2/3 of a mile leading up to the destination quite secluded and enjoyable.
Crags Road exits the trees, coming to a junction with Lost Cabin Trail just before the MASH site. This less-traveled single track heads to the left, southeast, for 0.75 miles to the location of a now non-existent cabin. Across from Lost Cabin Trail is the first sign of the MASH Set, an old truck with a red cross painted on the side. This jeep has been added since 2010 and adds to the fantasy of visiting the MASH Site.
Where was MASH filmed? This is where!
Just past this final junction, Crags Road arrives at the location where MASH was filmed from 1972 to 1983. A pair of rusting vehicles are left over from the TV production, along with picnic tables and numerous information panels. Rope outlines mark the footprints of the old medic tents, and provided photographs help revive the show in visitors’ imagination, further enriching the experience. Head up the slope to the west to the old helicopter landing area. The perch offers a great view of the recognizable rock formations surrounding the old TV set. The cast and crew may be gone, but the mountains haven’t changed, matching the memory of the popular television show.
Twentieth Century Fox operated a movie ranch in this area before donating the land to Malibu Creek State Park. In addition to Robert Altman’s classic 1970 film MASH and the subsequent television series, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Planet of the Apes were also filmed in the park (among others).
Beyond the MASH site, Crags Road continues to a junction with Bulldog Road and on to Malibu Lake. You may extend the hike deeper into the park on these trails, or return the way you came.
To get to the trailhead: The entrance to Malibu Creek State Park located on the west side of Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road between the 101 and PCH, 6.1 miles from the coast (just south of Mulholland Highway). There is a $15 entrance fee to park inside the park and parking is also available outside the park.
Trailhead address: 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Malibu Creek State Park, Agoura Hills, CA 91301
Trailhead coordinates: 34.100576, -118.711188 (34° 06′ 02.07″N 118° 42′ 40.27″W)
|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.
|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 park destinations.
|Lake Vista Trail|
This 4.1-mile hike crosses the west end of Malibu Creek State Park and climbs to a scenic view over Malibu Lake.
|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 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.
|Mesa Peak from Corral Canyon Road|
This 6.5-mile hike travels along a ridge adorned with sandstone outcroppings to approach a peak with ocean views over Malibu. Shorten the outing to 5.35 miles round trip by stopping at a crest above Mesa Peak with a prominent boulder.
|Mesa Peak from Malibu Canyon Road (Piuma Trailhead)|
This 6.5-mile round trip hike ascends 1,375 feet up the Backbone Trail from Malibu Creek State Park to a subtle summit with substantial ocean views.
|More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains|
Explore other destinations in the range.
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.
|Malibu Creek State Park|
The year-round campground has 63 sites with picnic tables, fire rings, flush toilets, coin showers, and a dump station.