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Hike Malibu Creek Rock Pool Mash Site

Hike Malibu Creek Rock Pool + MASH Site

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions
  • Hike the Rock Pool, Dam Viewpoint, and MASH Site
  • Insider Tips & Recommendations
Total Distance (?)5 miles (8.1 km)
Other Options 2 miles total just to Rock Pools
Hike Time2-3 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Easy
Total Ascent (?)400 feet (122m)
Highest Elevation720 feet (219m)
Fees & PermitsParking Fee
Dogs AllowedNo
Alerts & Closures (?)Malibu Creek State Park
Park Phone805-488-1827
Weather & ForecastLatest Conditions
Stay SafeCopy this webpage link to the clipobard and share with a friend before you hike. Let them know when to expect you back.
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There’s a lot to see in Malibu Creek State Park, and in this guide, I’ll take you on a “best of” tour of the highlights in the park. First, we’ll visit the famous Rock Pool, then escape the crowds at the scenic Century Lake dam, finally finishing with a canyon-side trail to the famous MASH television show set. It’s an easy hike that’s full of adventure and history.

Where is Malibu Creek State Park?

There are many trails and trailheads at Malibu Creek State Park, and this hike starts at the easy-to-find main parking lot and visitor area. Use this address to get to the parking lot:
1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, CA 91302

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Set your GPS for the park address, the easiest way to get to the entrance.
Malibu Creek Parking Map
Once you pull into the entrance, drive a minute our so down to the big parking lot on your left.
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There are plenty of parking spots, even though this is a popular spot.
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This is a California State Park, and you have to pay to visit. Sometimes the entry fee will be collected at the booth when you first drive in, but if not, use the self-pay kiosks. Or buy an annual State Park pass to get into all the CA parks.
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There are bathrooms by the trailhead.
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As well as a water fill.

Gear For the Hike

This is a tame hike, and you can get away with fitness clothes or light hiking gear. There are some water crossings, but you shouldn’t have to get wet. Having shoes you don’t mind getting wet is wise, just in case. It can also get brutally hot here; bring at least 1L of water for this hike.

Griptightone Gpod Tree

Joby GripTight Smartphone Flexible Tripod
Take your selfie stick game to the next level. Part of the fun of a hike is taking pictures, and a flexible JOBY smartphone tripod takes it to the next level. You can use it as a selfie stick, as a regular tripod, but more importantly, as a flexible tripod that can attach to tree branches and other objects. It’s not expensive, and it’s something you can use when not hiking too.

Latest Price – Amazon

Astro Headlamp

Black Diamond Cosmo 300 Headlamp
If something goes wrong and you get lost, sprain your ankle, or get delayed, you might be caught out after dark. And one of the top items that search and rescue departments recommend you carry is a light. Smartphones can work as flashlights, but that drains the battery quickly. It’s better to invest in a reasonably priced and high-quality headlamp like this Black Diamond. It takes AAA batteries, can last 200 hours, and has an emergency strobe. Carry it with you off the trail to use in emergencies as well.

Latest Price – REI | Amazon

Rei Member Card 2

REI Membership Saves You Money Forever
Have you shopped at REI before? They have all kinds of active clothes and gear, from fitness, to hiking, to snow sports, to casual wear. It’s an overall great place to shop (here’s why) and they offer a $30 membership that gets you 10% back on everything for life, along with frequent coupons, free shipping, discounts, and member-only sales. It’s a no-brainer.

REI Membership – REI

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated May 2022.

My May 2022 Top Gear Picks

No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.

Malibu Creek SP Trail Maps

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This is a popular park and the trails are generally well-marked.
Click Here To View

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.

Gaiagps

How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
Here’s what I use. If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 7 or Epix. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

To access this guide when out of cell phone range on the trail, simply save the webpage on your phone ( iPhoneAndroid ).

Elevation Profile

Malibu Creek Elevation
This is a little bit deceiving because it looks like there’s a mountain to climb, but the uphill is only 160 feet. It’s a flat hike aside from the small bump in the middle. On the way back, you do it in reverse.

3D Map

Malibu Creek 3d Map
The hike is an out and back route, starting on the left on this map. The first stop is the Rock Pool, then the dam viewpoint on Century Lake, and then we wind around into Triunfo Canyon where the MASH site is.

Hike Brief

Malibu Creek Historic
When you do the hike, you’ll recognize this view of the gorge that Malibu Creek travels through, which looks much the same as it does in this photo from 1911. The building seen in this photo is the Bavarian alpine-style lodge at Crags Country Club, a popular spot for wealthy people who like to hunt. The Great Depression and a lack of interest brought an end to Crags Country Club, and it closed in 1936. The lodge is no longer there. Photo Eric Wienberg Collection

Rock Pools & MASH Site Hike Directions

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Video Directions

Turn by Turn Directions

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The trail starts behind the bathrooms at the end of the parking lot.
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You’ll see a sign for the trails.
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Go straight across the street behind the bathrooms.
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And you’ll come to a trail board.Go down the steps and onto the (closed to traffic) road.
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The hike is well marked with signs like this.
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Continue down Crags Road.
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Keep hiking past the Grassland Trail on the right.
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Look for this turnoff shortly past the Grassland Trail junction. We’re going to leave the crowds on Crags Road behind.
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Do the easy creek crossing.
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And then keep right at the junction.
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We’re going to be hiking across the creek from the road. Follow the dirt track and enjoy the views of the Goat Buttes.
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When you get to the Visitor Center, make the hard right.
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If the Visitor Center is open, it’s worth a stop.
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Otherwise go over the bridge.
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The views down Malibu Creek from the beginning of the bridge are some of the best. Rock Pools is in the gorge ahead.
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Once across the bridge make the hard left.
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And hen continue left at the junction, down to the shores of Malibu Creek. Note that on the way back, we’ll be going up the road on the right at this junction.
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The trail is more of a trail now, following the shores of the creek.
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Keep following the creek upstream.
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And in a short while you’ll reach the Rock Pools.

You can swim in the water here, but you are not allowed to dive.

I’d also caution against climbing the cliffs around rock pool if you are not a rock climber. There are more accidents and rescues here than you would imagine.

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Here’s another view of the Rock Pools swimming hole.
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And if you go around a little, you’ll be able to see up into the gorge. Our next stop is the dam on the other side of this gorge.

Hike back to the last intersection where you joined the creek.

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Instead of hiking back to the bridge, make the hard left onto the dirt road.
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Hike uphill on the dirt road.
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And make the first right onto the trail.
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And then you’ll see Crags Road (from earlier) up on the hill in front of you. Climb up one of the short steep paths to rejoin Crags Road.
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Finish the rest of the climb on Crags Road.
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At the top, look for the small side trail to Century Lake on the left.
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There’s a sign for the Century Lake Trail. Keep left and head downhill.
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You’ll have some stairs down to a small clearing.
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And then get some great views of Century Lake (named after 20th Century Fox) and the dam, built in 1903 by Crags Country Club to attract waterfowl to hunt. The pointy crags in front of you are part of the Goat Buttes.

The famous “cliff jump scene” from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was shot here.

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Instead of heading back up to the road where you came in, continue up the lake on the lower road.
Hike Malibu Creek Rock Pool Mash Directions 39
And when you get back to Crags Road, make the left.
Planet Of The Apes Malibu
This junction is where they built “Ape Village” for the original Planet of the Apes movie. Photo Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archives
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There’s a sign after the junction. Our next stop is the MASH site.
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Follow the sandy and mellow Crags Road.
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Go straight past the Yearling Trail (on the right).
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And then look for a concrete dam on the left.
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When you get to the end of the dam, make the left off of the dam.
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And use the boards to cross over the creek.
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Once across continue upstream along the trail.
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Crags Road gets much smaller and makes a sharp left turn to follow the creek through a canyon.
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Keep following the creek upstream.
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And eventually you’re back on the road.
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And then you’ll see an old military ambulance, the start of the MASH site. This truck is from a 2007 restoration of the area.
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Enjoy all of the interpretive displays that do a good job of walking you through the show and how it was shot.
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There are some older vehicles too.
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And the mess tables.
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There’s even a “selfie holder” for you to take pictures.
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After you’re done exploring, just head back the same way that you came in.

If you want to save some time, just go straight back on Crags Road, avoiding the Rock Pools, and the road will bring you back to the start.

This guide last updated on March 11, 2022. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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