Malibu Creek State Park was one of the first areas I hiked when I moved to Southern California. This easy out-and-back trail travels alongside Malibu Creek through some great terrain and old growth oak trees, with a special bonus — a visit to the site of the Robert Altman’s 1970 movie hit M*A*S*H, as well as the subsequent television series and many other films.
Time: 2 hours
Elevation gain: 652 ft
When to go: Year-round
There are two parking lots. Go as far back as you can to the second lot and you’ll be closest to the trailhead. There is a restroom facility and vending machine at the lot, and the trailhead begins nearby.
Almost immediately, you’ll cross a bridge over Malibu Creek. On warm days, it is common to see people taking a dip in the water.
I chose to take the High Road trail, which stays on the north side of the creek and has long sections lined with old growth oak trees.
There are numerous alternate trails in the park, but the High Road is one of the most popular and well trafficked, and easy to follow. Watch the signs for the M*A*S*H site.
The High Road and Crags Road trails converge and climb over your only real hill on this route. You’ll get some great views of the Goat Buttes.
At 1.7 miles you reach a second bridge over the inlet to the narrow Century Lake.
The lake is fairly overgrown at this end.
From here the Crags Road trail becomes a narrow single track, at times quite rocky. You definitely need to keep your eyes on the trail. Follow this for another 0.7 miles and you will reach the site where M*A*S*H was filmed.
Your first sign of the site is a military ambulance that is in better condition, followed a bit further by a couple of well-rusted vehicles. There are picnic tables with camouflage netting for shade, and a number of information signs with scenes from the filming of M*A*S*H. They also had the tent layout staked out so you could see exactly where the hospital, Colonel Potter’s quarters and other sites were located.
You can see the distinctive peak today, as well as stakes outlining the hospital tent.
And while the original sign has long since faded away, there is a recreation of the milage sign from the show.
Take time to explore the area. This is the turn around point for the hike. When you’re ready to return, you can retrace your steps to the trailhead.
M*A*S*H Trail Map
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Malibu Creek State Park Tips
- There are signs warning of ticks in the brush. Most of the trails are double-track fire roads, so we didn’t have any problems, but be aware that they are out there.
- If the $12 entrance fee keeps you from visiting, you can park for free on the side of Mulholland Highway, about 1/2 mile away.
- There is shade on parts, but sun protection is recommended. Bring plenty of water for the hike. It can get quite warm, especially in the summer.
More Malibu Creek State Park Resources
Malibu Creek State Park Weather Forecast