Reviews of bucket-list-worthy things to do all over the world

Hiking to the M*A*S*H filming site!

Deep inside Malibu Creek State Park, in Malibu, California, is a place where television history was made, where California became Korea, and where actors became doctors and nurses fighting to save lives.

Today, many people take the approximately 5 mile round-trip hike to see the site where sets for the television show MASH once stood, and, although the sets are long gone, most don't leave disappointed.

Malibu Creek State Park offers more than just the chance to visit a piece of television history. It also has some of the best hiking trails in the Los Angeles area, with photogenic mountains, lakes and creeks; Rock Pool, where the original Planet of the Apes movie was filmed; a forest; and, in the spring, a multitude of yellow and purple wildflowers. There is also wildlife. Over numerous trips to the park, I've spotted deer, little lizards, butterflies, a non-venomous snake (venomous snakes can be found there as well), and many birds, including hawks.

A large sign graces the entrance to Malibu Creek State Park. Just inside the park is a small booth where the parking fee is collected ($12 as of early June 2011; a machine is available if the booth is closed). In the parking lots are the only flush toilets and sinks in the park (although there is usually a porta potty or two along the trail).
A few steps from the second parking lot is the trailhead.

High Road Trail immediately crosses Las Virgenes Creek via a concrete bridge, then it travels alongside Las Virgenes Creek, but the creek isn't really visible from the trail.

Before long, Malibu Creek comes into view. Ducks, coots, and turtles swim in the creek until it dries up in the summer.

As High Road Trail travels along Malibu Creek, it passes under a tunnel formed by trees. At the end of the tunnel of trees, is a sign announcing, "Crags Road, M.A.S.H site 1.5 mi," with an arrow pointing to the right.

We, however, took a left at the sign followed by a right just before the bridge and entered a beautiful little forest. The dirt path lead us to a wall of pockmarked rock where rock climbers swung from their safety ropes or picked their way to the top. Just past them was Rock Pool, where scenes in the original Planet of the Apes movie were filmed. The waterfall seen in the movie was piped in just for the movie and, therefore, no longer exists. After sitting a while at the small lake, we backtracked to Crags Road and continued on toward the MASH site.

Crags Road curves around and then climbs a bit. It's not a difficult climb for most people who are in good shape, but the trail offers no significant shade, so it can feel strenuous on hot, sunny days.
The reward for the climb is arriving at Century Lake, but you'd never know it. The lake isn't visible from Crags Road. A great glimpse of it is available from Lookout Trail on the left. The trail requires a steep climb up and back down on loose pebbles, but the view of the lake is spectacular!

Continuing on Crags Road leads through an open area, with a forest of pine trees on the left, and then over Malibu Creek via a small concrete bridge.

Soon Crags Road becomes a bumpy, narrow path around and over small boulders. It was in this area that I once spotted a snake sunning his or herself. The snake quickly slithered away when my friend and I approached.

A newly-painted, period ambulance signals the entrance to the MASH site. The only remaining original artifacts from the show are a well-rusted Jeep and ambulance. A replica of the famous MASH signpost is posted in the ground, and there are interpretive signs with photos of actors and crew working in the park. Looking up from some of the photos, it is easy to spot the areas where the photos were taken. Inside a shed are more photos. Sites where some of the MASH buildings once stood are outlined with rope.

A short, steep, loose dirt path leads to a clearing that was once the landing site for the MASH helicopters. From the helipad, there is a great view of the MASH site. Whenever I stand on the helipad and look at the distinctive mountains, I can almost hear a chopper in the distance. And then, a certain song begins to play in my mind. Judging from the reactions of the people I've shared the MASH site with over the years, I am not alone.
P.S. In the novel Lost in Los Angeles (about a young woman who travels to L.A. looking for a reason to live), the characters hike to the MASH site, in addition to experiencing other bucket-list-worthy L.A. adventures. Check out Lost in Los Angeles by J.W. Lynne on

I did this most recently in 2017 in Malibu, California, USA.

Jen (California, USA)

MASH site hike map:

Driving directions to trailhead:  

From Malibu: From Pacific Coast Highway, take Malibu Canyon Road east. Drive approximately 6 miles until you see the sign for Malibu Creek State Park on the left (just before you reach Mullholland Highway). Turn left into the park and park in the second parking lot.

From Los Angeles: From Ventura Freeway (101), exit at Las Virgenes Road. Drive south approximately 3.5 miles until you see the sign for Malibu Creek State Park on the right (just after Mullholland Highway). Turn right into the park and park in the second parking lot.