Malibu Creek State Park: Best Time to Visit, Fees, and Trails

Rock Pool picnic area at Malibu Creek State Park in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles, California.
© trekandshoot/Shutterstock.com

Written by Sandy Porter

Updated: November 6, 2023

Share on:

Advertisement


Located 25 miles from Los Angeles, Malibu Creek State Park, tucked into the Santa Monica Mountains, California, enjoys a beautiful year-round season. Some times of the year are better to visit than others, depending on the visitor’s perspective, of course. But the mild winter, warm autumn and spring, and hot summer here all offer different advantages.

If you’re interested in heading to this spot for hiking, camping, historic sites, and more, the following information should help you plan your trip responsibly.

Location of Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park

Come hike the trails at Malibu Creek State Park. You’ll find a nearly endless variety of beauty, exciting wildlife, historic sites, and even some television show history.

©JohannaZender/Shutterstock.com

You’ll find Malibu Creek State Park stretching along below Malibu Lake in the west to the Piuma Road in the east. The park follows the creek to the Pacific Ocean to the Malibu Lagoon at the beach. The large park contains three natural preserves and other parks that have been absorbed, including Liberty Canyon, Udell Gorge, and Kaslow Preserve.

Basics of Malibu Creek State Park

  • Address/Location: south of Highway 101 on Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road at 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, California
  • Phone: (310) 457-8144
  • Park hours: 8 am to 10 pm
  • Dogs allowed? Leashed dogs are permitted in the campground and on paved roads only in the park.
  • Parking fees: $12 per car, per day/ $9 per car for 3 hours, $3 per car for 1 hour

Best Time to Visit Malibu Creek State Park, Based on the Weather

An image taken in the fall in Malibu Creek State Park.

Many folks say the best time to visit Malibu Creek State Park is Autumn. You’ll find the gorgeous foliage and cooler temperatures welcoming and fewer crowds to make it past.

©PJAlexander/ via Getty Images

Most folks prefer visiting Malibu Creek State Park in springtime and autumn. These milder seasons provide pleasant weather for camping, hiking, biking, birding, and more. Winter can be a bit too cold and summer can get too hot for a lot of folks. The park is open year-round, though.

  • For observing native wildflowers, head to the park in springtime.
  • For beach-going and sunbathing, hike the trails at the park in summertime.
  • In autumn, enjoy the fall foliage with cooler temperatures.
  • For heavy jacket weather and avoiding crowds, make your way to Malibu Creek Park in winter.

The Busiest and Least Crowded Months

The absolute busiest month of the year in Malibu Creek State Park is July. June and August follow close behind. Head to the park from November to March to avoid crowds and enjoy cooler weather.

Fees for Visiting Malibu Creek State Park

Several parking fees meet visitors as they venture to the park, or a $3 entry fee for pedestrians, bicyclists, and bus riders. Children under 16 enter for free.

  • $3 per vehicle for 1 hour
  • $6 per vehicle for 3 hours
  • $9 per vehicle for 3 hours
  • $12 per vehicle, full-day parking
  • $45 per night for camping
  • $125 per large bus
  • $50 per small bus
  • $195 for the annual pass for day use at Malibu Creek and other California state parks

Camping Information for Malibu Creek State Park

A few things to note if heading to Malibu Creek for camping.

  • Showers operate using $1 bills per shower. No change is given for larger bills.
  • Firewood must be used in camp rings only on low (green) level Fire Safety Days. If the fire level is yellow, burning firelogs like Duraflame logs, and charcoal briquettes are permitted. Nothing may be burned on red or high-level Fire Safety Days.

Landmarks of Malibu Creek State Park

Two major landmarks rest within Malibu State Park: King Gillette Ranch and Sepulveda Adobe.

King Gillette Ranch

Annexes to the park boundaries in recent years, the King Gillette Ranch houses a Spanish Colonial Revival style home with estate buildings. These were designed by architect Wallace Neff in the 1920s for the original owner, King C. Gillette. And yes, he’s the guy who created and originally manufactured the Gillette razor.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Catholic Claretian Order came to the ranch and used it as Claretville for their Order. In the 1990s, Soka University finally purchased the ranch for the park. This is where you’ll find the visitor’s center for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation in the historic stables compound.

Sepúlveda Adobe

Another historic ranch site, the Sepulveda Adobe dates back to the 19th Century when it was built by the Sepulveda family, a prominent California family from the southern end of the state. The house was the residence of the manager and herdsmen at the time. The ranch also served as a lookout when French privateer Hippolyte de Bouchard attacked San Juan Capistrano. Now, the ranch rests within the park as a historic site, the second-oldest building still standing in Orange County.

The adobe was burned during a 2018 wildfire but has been repaired. Due to safety and protection, however, visitors may not enter this landmark.

Things to Do at Malibu Creek State Park

Cropped image of man and woman sitting in chairs outside the tent. Couple camping in forest.
Camping, hiking, beach-going, horseback riding, and many activities add some excitement for folks visiting the Malibu Creek State Park.

Before you head out to Malibu Creek State Park, you may want to plan your activities. After all, you could need some specific equipment available or knowledge of where to rent equipment. The following make up the most popular activities in the park.

Hiking and Biking

The park contains more than 15 miles of trails. Some of these trails run easy for the casual walk, stroller pusher, or wheelchair access routes. Beyond these easy trails, they can reach moderately difficult rankings, so are more suited to hikers and bikers with more stamina and experience.

Trails in Malibu Creek State Park

The 21 trails wind their way through Malibu Creek State Park as follows.

  • Malibu Lake Trail — Moderate, 6.4 miles
  • Rock Pool and Century Lake Trails — Easy, 4.5 miles
  • Grasslands Trail — Moderate, 6.2 miles
  • Saddle Peak — Moderate, 3.3 miles
  • Mesa Peak Trail — Moderate, 4.8 miles
  • Rock Pool via Crags Road Loop — Easy, 2.1 miles
  • Backbone Trail Loop — Hard, 7.7 miles
  • Saddle Peak via the Backbone Trail — Hard, 9.2 miles
  • Century Lake via Cistern, Forest, and Cage Creek Trail — Easy, 3.0 miles
  • Cistern Trail to Lookout Trail — Moderate, 1.3 miles
  • Backbone Trail: Tapia Park to Saddle Peak — Hard, 10.5 miles
  • Backbone Trail: Tapia to Kanan-Dume — Hard, 11.6 miles
  • Malibu Creek, Mott Road, Mott Adobe Ruins — Moderate, 3.0 miles
  • Castro Crest and Bulldog Road —Moderate, 7.3 miles
  • Anne Skager Trail — Easy, 0.8 miles
  • Luna-Sirius Trail — Easy, 0.7 miles
  • Bulldog Loop Trail [CLOSED] — Hard, 15.2 miles
  • Castro Crest via Backbone Trail [CLOSED] — Hard, 10.3 miles
  • Castro Crest: Upper Solstice Canyon to Mesa Peak [CLOSED] — Moderate, 6.5 miles
  • Backbone Trail: Corral Canyon to Latigo Canyon [CLOSED] — Moderate, 8.2 miles
  • Castro Motorway to Castro Peak Lookout [CLOSED] — Moderate, 2.8 miles

Visit the M*A*S*H Site

The MASH site at Malibu State Creek Park

If you’re a fan, you won’t want to miss visiting the MASH site at Malibu State Creek Park.

©Julie Freedman/ via Getty Images

If you’re into reliving fandoms, you’ll want to head out to the M*A*S*H television show site. The actual film location of much of the on-location shots was this spot down the 2.5-mile easy hiking trail. Interpretive displays and remaining set pieces dot the site, taking you back to the Korean War-based television show.

Camping

For those looking for a long stay, 63 campsites offer that opportunity, complete with fire rings and picnic tables.

Birdwatching and Wildlife Observation

The park’s natural wonders provide wildlife viewing and birding in natural habitats.

Animals You Could Spot While Visiting Malibu Creek State Park

green nanday conure

You could spot one of the beautiful Nanday parakeets in Malibu Creek State Park. One of the few parrots in the United States, the stunning bird makes this warm, subtropical climate region its home year-round.

©iStock.com/slowmotiongli

Photography and Picnicking

Rock Pool picnic area at Malibu Creek State Park in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles, California.

The gorgeous Malibu Creek State Park offers a wide variety of terrains: creek-side paths, picnic grounds, hiking trails, and historic sites.

©trekandshoot/Shutterstock.com

Of course, if you just have a few hours to relax, you can grab your camera and a picnic basket and head to one of the many great picnicking sites for a casual afternoon. Enjoy the wildflowers in springtime, crispy foliage in autumn, and the year-round beauty of the park.

Horseback Riding

Join a horse trail ride or rent a horse if you don’t live locally. Then, hit those trails on the back of an amazing animal to enjoy the park from a different perspective.

Fishing

If you’d rather bring home your own dinner, bring your fishing rod and reel along. There’s plenty of fishing throughout the park.

Rock Climbing

You can also find spots to enjoy rock climbing within Malibu Creek State Park. Just watch for signage and ask questions at the visitor’s center before you start climbing. You don’t want to climb on anything that’s off-limits and wind up damaging the terrain!


Share this post on:
About the Author

Sandy Porter is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering house garden plants, mammals, reptiles, and birds. Sandy has been writing professionally since 2017, has a Bachelor’s degree and is currently seeking her Masters. She has had lifelong experience with home gardens, cats, dogs, horses, lizards, frogs, and turtles and has written about these plants and animals professionally since 2017. She spent many years volunteering with horses and looks forward to extending that volunteer work into equine therapy in the near future. Sandy lives in Chicago, where she enjoys spotting wildlife such as foxes, rabbits, owls, hawks, and skunks on her patio and micro-garden.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.