Located in Agoura Hills, California near Malibu Creek State Park, Paramount Ranch served as a Hollywood filming location and outdoor studio for Paramount Pictures. This cinematic history of the ranch is now preserved by the National Park Service as part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The park’s main attraction and most interesting facet is Western Town, a couple blocks of prop buildings used from the 1950s to 1990s as an outdoor set for film and television show. There is a parking lot a couple hundred feet from Western Town, making it easy to visit.
The National Parks Service took ownership of the ranch in the 1980s and still permits filming in the park. The largest recent production, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, filmed in Western Town and elsewhere in Paramount Ranch from 1992 to 1997. The National Parks Service keeps a thorough list of projects filmed on the property, dating back to 1927.
Several short trails within Paramount Ranch allow visitors to hike a few miles and explore the old filming grounds. The trails have the potential be quite rutted from horse traffic. Also, the landscape is less scenic than nearby Malibu Creek State Park, so those new to hiking in this area may want to visit the location where the MASH television show was filmed, along with worthy hiking tracks like Cistern Trail and Lake Vista Trail.
From the main parking area near Western Town, a 0.75-mile loop to the south toward Mulholland Highway connects to Western Town Overlook Trail, a spur trail to a vista point looking over the set city. The loop passes an intersection of Mulholland Highway and Cornell Road/Lake Vista Drive where a path goes to a parking lot on the west end of Malibu Creek State Park. This trailhead provides access to Reagan Ranch and the network of trails in that neighboring park.
North of Western Town is a tightly packed maze of trails. One possible loop options is to hike clockwise following Coyote Canyon Trail to Hacienda Trail, to Backdrop Trail, to Bwana Trail, to Medicine Woman Trail, which returns to Western Town for an approximately 3-mile hike with a modest 100 feet of elevation change. Each track covers similar terrain of woodlands and grasslands used in filming over the decades. Some of the trail junctions are unmarked, so bring a copy of the Paramount Ranch Trail guide before setting out. The loop passes three spur trails leading west toward Kanan Road that pass through private property. Additionally, numerous other unmarked trails crisscross the park that can make following a specific route a bit challenging. It may be easier to start hiking without an exact plan and just freely explore the park until you get tired and decide to head back to the saloon in Western Town. Paramount Ranch is fairly well contained, so it is difficult to get too lost.
The south and north loops combined provide about four miles of hiking with 150 feet of elevation change. No fee or permit is required to visit Paramount Ranch, so get out and enjoy.
To get to the trailhead: From Los Angeles, take the 10 freeway west to where it ends Santa Monica. Follow PCH northwest for 13 miles to Malibu Canyon Road. Turn right and drive up the canyon for 6.3 miles to Mulholland Highway. Turn left and drive 3.2 miles west to Cornell Road (opposite Lake Vista Drive). Turn right and drive a quarter mile to the entrance of Paramount Ranch. Turn left and drive down to the parking lot outside Western Town.
Trailhead address: Cornell Road & Paramount Ranch Drive, Agoura Hills, CA91301
Trailhead coordinates: 34.115546, -118.755176 (34° 06′ 55.96″N 118° 45′ 18.63″W)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding Los Angeles trails and campgrounds.
|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.
|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.
This 4.75-mile hike climbs 500 feet over a scenic mountain between Liberty Canyon and Las Virgenes Canyon.
|More trails in the Santa Monica Mountains|
Explore other destinations in the range.