Malibu Creek Grassland Trail

Talepop Loop explores the north end of Malibu Creek State Park through a region long inhabited by Chumash Indians who had a village here named Talepop. Hikers today are exposed to signs of modern humanity like ranches and electric lines, but despite being suspiciously close to two major roadways, Talepop Trail escapes the man-made world to explore a beautiful patch of the Santa Monica Mountains. While on the trail, hikers are nearly as likely to hear a red-tailed hawk crying overhead as the Chumash were centuries ago. This scenic 4.75-mile lollipop loop with 500 feet of elevation gain incorporates four different trails to create a surprisingly enjoyable hike.

Start by hiking up North Grassland Trail from a trailhead on Mulholland Highway just west of Las Virgenes Road. This level single-track heads north away from the center of Malibu Creek State Park. Ahead, Las Virgenes Canyon and Liberty Canyons separate in the shape of a V. Talepop Loop offers level hiking in the bellies of both wide canyons, with a more intimate and elevated trek across the mountain in between.

North Grassland Trail
North Grassland Trail

After 0.3 miles, North Grassland Trail circumnavigates an obtrusive electrical substation, briefly joining a paved road to get to the other side. From here, Grassland Trail continues north looking much the same as it did before the substation. There are fields to the left and a wooded creek to the right. A sudden hairpin turn brings hikers down to an alluring bridge that crosses Liberty Canyon Creek. Just beyond the bridge, and 0.75 miles from the start, North Grassland Trail comes to an end at a T with Liberty Canyon Fire Road. This is the beginning of the loop portion of the hike, so you may proceed in either direction.

North Grassland Trail
The bridge over Liberty Canyon Creek at the end of Grassland Trail

To the left, Talepop Trail is just 0.2 milers away. Since you are probably ready for something other than level terrain, turn left and get straight to it. At the next junction, turn right onto Talepop Trail, taking this narrow single track up a grassy slope. Prepare to be impressed! After hiking past the substation and being subject to the pervasive sound of motorists, the trail enters a wilderness space that feels immediately more remote. As you ascend a grassy ridge, Talepop Trail becomes so thin as to make you think you are one of the first hikers to even trek this way.

Talepop Trail
Looking north up Talepop Trail

Talepop Trail
Looking south from Talepop Trail

After gaining the ridge, Talepop Trail turns left and continues to climb. Be sure to check your rearview mirror as the best views may be behind you. There are expanding sights to the south toward Castro Peak and the Santa Monica Mountains. Talepop Trail ascends 400 feet over half a mile before tapering out. The now tremendously overgrown trail continues north across an undulating ridge. Shoulder high brush crowds the trail; you will definitely want to wear long pants on this one, or expect to have your legs scratched.

Lost Hills and the 101 Freeway come into view as you descend the northern slope, curving east toward Las Virgenes Canyon. Songbirds sing and play in the brush along the trail, and this is clearly an area beloved by wildlife. In total, Talepop Trail is 1.75 miles long, reaching a high elevation of 1,020 feet before coming to an end at a meeting with Las Virgenes Fire Road. The junction is somewhat puzzling because the sign for Talepop Trail is set back a hundred feet from the fire road. If you were to hike the loop in the opposite direction, you could easily miss the sign completely. Those hiking up Las Virgenes Fire Road to Talepop Trail should look for an immense oak in front of a small trail breaking off to the left. If you come to a wooden bridge crossing the creek, you just missed it.

There is no confusion hiking down Talepop Trail to Las Virgenes Fire Road. Simply turn right and follow the jeep trail for 1.3 miles as it journeys south and eventually west, joining Liberty Canyon Fire Road and completing the loop at the junction with Grassland Trail. The trail is level and in sight of well-traveled Las Virgenes Road. The hiking is easy, and while the views aren’t as good as those up on Talepop Trail, the surrounding landscape is still satisfying.

Talepop Trail
Las Virgenese Fire Road

Hike back out on Grassland Trail to complete this refreshing 4.75-mile hike through a picturesque parcel of the Santa Monica Mountains. On the other side of Mulholland Highway, South Grassland Trail ventures south toward Crags Road in Malibu Creek State Park. If you haven’t yet been to Rock Pool, Century Lake, and the old MASH set, you should hike that way next. There is no fee or permit required to hike Talepop Loop, so get out and enjoy.

To get to the trailhead: Take Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road to the intersection with Mulholland Highway, 6.3 miles from the coast and 3.3 miles from the 101 Freeway in Lost Hills. Turn west at the light on Mulhollad Highway and drive 0.15 mile to the trailhead on the right. There is street parking on the both sides of of the road.

Trailhead address: 26989 Mulholland Highway, Agoura Hills, CA 91301
Trailhead coordinates: 34.103394, -118.713806

Use the map below to create your own directions:

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Photos

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These photos were taken in November of 2010. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
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.
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Lost Cabin Trail Malibu Creek hikeLost Cabin Trail
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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.
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