MASH television set Malibu Creek State Park hike

Far from the Kodak Theater 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 175 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 ($12 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).

Malibu Creek State Park Goat Buttes Crags Road
Crags Road heading toward the Goat Buttes

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.

There are a lot of side trails breaking off 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.

Malibu Creek Crags Road
Crags Road nearing the M*A*S*H site

Crags Road exits the trees, coming to a junction with Lost Cabin Trail just before reaching 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.

Malibu Creek MASH set
Looking down on the M*A*S*H site

Just past this final junction, Crags Road arrives at the spot where MASH was filmed from 1972 to 1983. There is a pair of rusting vehicles 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).

Malibu Creek MASH site
A recreation of the wooden sign from the show

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 $12 entrance fee to park inside the park and there is also parking 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)

Use the map below to create your own directions:


View Malibu Creek MASH set hike GPS in a larger map
Or view Los Angeles Hikes in a larger map
Photos

Malibu CreekMalibu CreekMalibu CreekMalibu CreekMalibu CreekMalibu CreekMalibu CreekMalibu CreekMalibu CreekMalibu CreekMalibu CreekMalibu CreekMalibu CreekMalibu CreekMalibu Creek

These photos were taken in October and November of 2010. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Lost Cabin Trail Malibu Creek hikeLost 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.
Malibu Creek State Park HikeCistern, 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.
Malibu Lake hikeLake 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.
Malibu Creek Grassland TrailGrassland 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.
talepop trailTalepop Loop
This 4.75-mile hike climbs 500 feet over a scenic mountain between Liberty Canyon and Las Virgenes Canyon.
malibu creekMalibu Creek Traverse
This adventure hike explores the C-shaped gorge between Rock Pool and Century Lake in Malibu Creek State Park.
Mesa Peak MalibuMesa Peak from Tapia Trailhead
This 6.5-mile round trip hike ascends 1,400 feet up the Backbone Trail from Malibu Creek State Park to a subtle summit with substantial ocean views.
malibu hikeMore trails in the Santa Monica Mountains
Explore other destinations in the range.
Similar Trail
Paramount Ranch hikeParamount Ranch
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.
Camping
Malibu CreekMalibu Creek State Park
The year-round campground has 63 sites with picnic tables, fire rings, flush toilets, coin showers, and a dump station.

29 Comments on The MASH site in Malibu Creek State Park

  1. touvellep says:

    Are dogs on leash/off leash allowed on the hiking trails?

    • hikespeak says:

      Hello-
      In Malibu Creek State Park, dogs are allowed in campgrounds and day use areas, but not on the trails.

  2. Stan says:

    When I went there in 2005 there were only the two rusted vehicles, and the ambulance was almost completely hidden in bush. Nice to see that things have been upgraded.

    What is in the little building shown in one of your pictures, is that where one can view the photos you mentioned.

    • hikespeak says:

      The small building is a utility shed used by the park. There are archival photos on the doors. The park has done a great job preserving and presenting the old set.

  3. Lennie Ross says:

    This is a great hike. It’s not terribly challenging, mostly flat, with a part that gets a bit rocky. Really cool to see the site of M.A.S.H. Note: if you start at the corner of Las Virgines & Mullholland, go west on Mullholland about 200 yards, just over a little bridge, on the left is where you will find the entrance. There will be a lot of cars parked in that area. If you go to the park entrance just a little further south on Las Virgines you can pick up a rangers map with all the hikes in the area for $12. There is also a camping area there for RVs

  4. kimreif says:

    I have watched MASH since the 70’s and I wish it was back on television today but I love seeing all the re-runs on TVLand

  5. Susan Jeffrey says:

    Oh!!!!!! I am SO doing this hike!! I know the pictures of what I’m looking at here like the back of my hand!! How soon can I plan this??

  6. Matthew Arata says:

    Just want to warn people – the section between Cage Creek Trail junction and the MASH site floods easily during and after rains. This section of the trail is basically now the creek and not really Crags Rd anymore, it is still passable if you are willing to get your feet wet or pick your way through the area off to the side of where the water is running through. Worth it to make it to the MASH site though.

  7. I have been trying to identify and find out what happened to what I thought was a Spanish Mission building that can be seen to the left of a mountain peek when seen in the opening credits of MASH. When I had taped the program once, I was able to plainly see it was really a building. It may have been destroyed in the fire, and I no longer can see it on any of the photographs I see, though it is hard to tell. This building made the mountain very distingishable from the others as in the right light it appeared to have two peaks. I have been trying to catch this photo for several years. If anyone knows, please email me. I watch the reruns constantly to see exactly where the mountain sits, but the camera crew did such a good job of changing angles and moving around that I have had no luck.

  8. Mark Howell says:

    I was there back in ’91…a nice hike. It was awfully nice of the a-holes at FOX to remove the show’s open (gee, think of all the money they were losing from a TV show open!). Corporate lawyers…you gotta love ‘em (or, run them over).

  9. Mark Roach says:

    This sounds like a reasonable hike to get to the location. I’m curious though – back when they were filming, how did they transport the film crews / actors / equipment back in there ? There must have been a more well travelled road back then. (?)

    • roger says:

      I used to visit here on a weekly basis when they filming, back in 1980-82. We used to fish the creek for bass before anyone ever knew about this place. We used to see the vans with Alan Alda and the rest of the cast come driving by us, and while we were fishing right behind the set you could here Col. Potter always yelling. We used to always laugh at that. They left the tents up and were guarded by a security guard named Carol. We used to visit here in the “Swamp” that is where she stayed while she was guarding the place. Very good memories of partying in the Swamp.

    • Eric says:

      Fox owned the land back then and used it for filming. Naturally they simply drove to the site, on what I’m sure was a much more established and used network of roads. No private vehicles are allowed now on the roads, at least in that part of the park.

    • Yes – the roads to the east of the film set area were clearly in much better condition 30 years ago than they are today. When the ranch was actively in use, they were very necessary.

  10. nancy says:

    we were there in the early 1981 and all the Mash Sets were around. The huts etc. The park was great and no one knew about it. Today it is over run with garage and people who don’t care. Please when you go to these places pick up after yourself and dogs?

  11. Dave says:

    Can’t find the MASH site on google maps can someone send me the GPS coordinates. mopsy_54@yahoo.com

    • Dave Kay says:

      The old set is visible easily on Google maps. Turn map labels on and and search Crags Road and Bulldog Lateral. The set is about 1000 ft east on Crags Road , at a sharp turn from NE/SW to E/W. Zoom in and you’ll be able to see the trucks and picnic tables

  12. dewalt says:

    Is the Goodbye spelled out of rocks still there? If so would love to plan a trip. We live in Pa. So it is quite a trip.

    • The “goodbye” is not there anymore, I’m not sure, but from screen captures it looks like they used sandbags or something to spell it out as that would be fairly easy to assemble onsite instead of trucking in dirt/sand/rocks or something.
      You can walk up on the hill that they used for the helicopter pad and where the “goodbye” was spelled out though.

  13. cindy wyman says:

    My husband and I will be in CA in September and wanted to see the M*A*S*H site but my husband is handicapped. Any motorized tours available as he is unable to hike that distance?

  14. Terry says:

    Can a person metal detect in this park ?

  15. Had a great time biking to the set from Juan Bautista de Anza State Park (free parking). Check out our post on the experience, photos included!

    http://mrandmrsadventure.com/2013/12/17/biking-to-the-set-of-mash/

  16. Steve Weichold says:

    I hiked there in 1981. was so cool. all the tents were up and the swap was closed off. I have about 6 pictures. I really like the park.

  17. Canuck says:

    I hiked to the site in Fall of 2010. We traveled from North Bay in Ontario, Canada. Will never forget the trip. It was worth every penny. Hike was not bad at all I thought. Glad to see the site was upgraded and taken care of.

Ask a question or share your experience

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *