Lost Cabin Trail: A Real Find in Malibu Creek State Park
By David Lockeretz of Nobody Hikes in L.A. / Special to LAist
Many L.A. area hikers know that the filming site for the TV show “M*A*S*H” can be visited in Malibu Creek State Park. However, not many know about the very scenic, three-quarter mile Lost Cabin Trail which branches off from the site. If you are visiting the M*A*S*H location, do yourself a favor and make the extra trip on the Lost Cabin Trail. It visits a remote section of the park where you are likely to have solitude, while getting views of some of the area’s interesting sandstone geology and panoramic vistas of the south side of the Goat Buttes.
There are several ways to get to the M*A*S*H site and the Lost Cabin Trail. The two most practical are from the main entrance to the park on Malibu Canyon Road and via the Cistern Trail off of Mulholland Highway.
The park’s main entrance is on Las Virgenes Road, 3.2 miles south of the 101 Freeway. You can also reach it from Pacific Coast Highway; follow Malibu Canyon Road north for 6 miles (it becomes Las Virgenes on the way), and look for the park entrance on your left, just before Mulholland. The parking fee is $12 per day. From the parking area, follow Crags Road, the park’s “main drag”, west for a total of 2.4 miles to arrive at the M*A*S*H site. On the way, you can take detours to two of the park’s other famous sites: the Rock Pool and Century Lake.
Parking at the Cistern Trail is free, but harder to find and limited. Once you are on Las Virgenes, head west on Mulholland (left if you’re coming from P.C.H. or right if you’re coming from the 101) and go 1.9 miles. Look for a small dirt turnout on the left side of the road. The 0.3 mile Cistern Trail begins here, providing great views of almost the whole park as it descends to the Lookout Trail. Head left and continue the descent, dropping 0.4 miles to meet with Crags Road near Century Lake. Turn right on Crags and walk a mile to the M*A*S*H site.
After you’ve finished seeing the vehicles and the interpretive plaques, look for the Lost Cabin Trail heading south. It climbs uphill for half a mile and reaches a saddle where you get nice views into the park’s back country. You descend a quarter mile to Lost Cabin Creek, a tribute of Malibu Creek, where the trail ends. Although there’s no evidence of it visible, a cabin once did stand here. The ending of the hike might seem a little anti-climatic, but as isolated and quiet as it is, it’s a nice place to sit and relax for a few minutes before returning.
The Lost Cabin Trail is proof positive that even in well-known hiking areas such as Malibu Creek State Park and the Santa Monica Mountains, there are still some pleasant surprises waiting to be discovered. For more information on Malibu Creek State Park, visit its site. For a more detailed write-up of the hike from the Cistern Trail, click here.