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. It is 4.75-miles round trip with a mere 200 feet of elevation gain between the parking area at the park entrance and the old MASH set.
Where was MASH filmed?
Shooting for MASH took place on a movie ranch operated by Twentieth Century Fox. The land where the filming occurred was later donated and became Malibu Creek State Park. The state park preserves the MASH site for visitors.
The basic hiking directions to the M*A*S*H site are:
- Leave the main parking area on Crags Road (0 miles)
- Stay to the left past the bottom of South Grassland Trail (0.2 miles)
- Come to a split between Crags Road and High Road and turn left to cross Malibu Creek and stay on Crags Road (0.3 miles)
- Staying to the right on High Road extends the distance by 0.1 miles – simply turn right when High Trail reunites with Crags Road
- After a meadow, Crags Trail crosses a bridge over Malibu Creek (0.7 miles)
- Pass the trail to Rock Pool to meet High Road again and proceed west (0.8 mile)
- Pass the bottom of Lookout Trail on the right (1.22 miles)
- Pass the top of Century Lake Trail on the left (1.25 miles)
- Optionally venture down to Century Lake and back, adding 0.3 miles to the hike
- Pass the bottom of Cage Creek Trail on the right (1.5 miles)
- Pass Forest Trail on the left (1.7 miles)
- Pass Lost Cabin Trail on the left and the edge of the MASH Site (2.3 miles)
- Explore the MASH site before returning the way you came (2.37 miles)
Hiking to the M*A*S*H site
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).
At 0.3 miles from the start, you will come to an important split. Crags Road parts to the left, crossing Malibu Creek. 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, when you may prefer not to cross the creek.
When the creek is running high, it is best to stay to the left on High Road, a branch of Crags Road. Staying to the left on High Road only extends the hike by a tenth of a mile each way. The level creek-side fire road provides pleasant shade from overhanging oaks, along with fine views of the impressive Goat Buttes and surrounding peaks. Even if you choose this route in dry months, the mountain range is picturesque year round. Staying with the High Road is also the less complication option.
Taking the High Road: At 0.6 miles from the split, High Road rejoins Crags Road at another marked junction. To the left, you will find the trail to Rock Pool and the park ranger station. To the right, Crags Road continues for another 1.5 miles to the MASH site.
Taking Crags Road: Bearing Left at the split to follow Crags Road, the trail firs crosses Malibu Creek. Then make your way through a meadow toward the ranger station. Bear right at a couple splits with a trail heading south. After the ranger station, cross a bridge over Malibu Creek with a picturesque perspective up the gorge to the south. On the other side, find the trail to Rock Pool venturing up along the creek to the left. This is an awesome hiking destination, worthy of a short side trip (adding 0.4 miles round trip to this hike).
Not long after the bridge over Malibu Creek and the trail to Rock Pool, come to the junction with the west end of High Road. Bear left to proceed up Crags Road.
Crags Road to the MASH Site: Leaving the junction, Crags Road angles to the right and then makes a sharp turn to the left to head gradually uphill. After another 0.42 miles, pass Lookout Trail which rises to the right. Heading downhill, Crags Road then passes a spur trail on the left that ventures down to Century Lake. A picnic area by this small, peaceful reservoir is 0.15 miles off Crags Road and worthy of a short detour.
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, which connects to Cistern Trail, another access route to Malibu Creek State Park.
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 usual, 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 enhances the fantasy of visiting the MASH Site.
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 and the subsequent MASH 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.
A fee of $12 per vehicle is charged to park inside Malibu Creek State Park. Parking is also available outside the park. Dogs are not allowed on this hike, but mountain bikes are permitted.
To get to the trailhead: The entrance to Malibu Creek State Park is 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).
Trailhead address: 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Malibu Creek State Park, Calabasas, CA 91301
Trailhead coordinates: 34.0964, -118.71673 (34° 05′ 47″N 118° 43′ 00.2″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.
|Phantom Trail |
This 4.8-mile round trip hike crosses a panoramic ridge on the north side of Malibu Creek State Park.
|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.
|Talepop Loop |
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.
|Las Virgenes View Trail |
This 4.95-mile hike patiently weaves its way across hills along Las Virgenes Road and rises up a canyon to ridgetop views over Malibu Creek State Park and mountains in Calabasas.
|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.
|Paramount 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.
|Malibu Creek State Park |
The year-round campground has 63 sites with picnic tables, fire rings, flush toilets, coin showers, and a dump station.