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Hike These Trails in Malibu Creek State Park
Health & Fitness

Hike These Trails in Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park features beautiful nature and mighty mountains; we recommend hiking these trails to discover the park’s gems.

Roubina Al Abashian

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5 min read

March 03, 2022

Encompassing more than 8,000 acres of verdant space, Malibu Creek State Park is a treasure trove of scenic hiking trails. Gorges, savannas, and plains invite you to discover the ins and out of this state park near Los Angeles while simultaneously admiring the rich wildlife. Boasting a multitude of terrains, Malibu Creek allows you to experience a new hike with every trail. No matter your preferences, there’s a Malibu Creek hike for every mood.

Our new mantra is to hike more and worry less at the recreational crown jewel of the Santa Monica Mountains.

1. Malibu Lake Trail

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 6.6 miles
Time: 3 hours
Route: Out and back
Dogs allowed: No

Care to hike one of the most popular winter trails in the Golden State? Head straight to the Malibu Lake Trail just off of Las Virgenes Road and Waycross Drive. For most of the part, you’ll be hiking in parallel with the Malibu Creek surrounded by a variety of wildflowers. The lake at the end of the trail is the reason why this Malibu hike is super panoramic—take a minute or two to revel in the majestic Malibu Lake. 

The Grassland Trail provides a scenic stroll over rolling hills with tall grass. The trail can be accessed from the main parking lot via Crags Road.

2. Grassland Trail

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 6.2 miles
Time: 3 hours
Route: Out and back
Dogs allowed: No

Another local favorite Malibu hiking trail is Grassland. Back in the day, this used to be a beautiful filming locationM.A.S.H. regularly shot scenes in this part of the state park. While the six-mile hike may seem long, the journey is actually a piece of cake. Trees shade you from the heat year-round, gorgeous wildflowers follow you every step of the way, and you’ll encounter rivers and creeks providing you with tons of gorgeous photo ops.

3. Saddle Peak

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.4 miles
Time: 2 hours
Route: Out and back
Dogs allowed: No

If you’re not against a bit of incline, Saddle Peak will be the best hike you’ll ever go on. Your journey to the top starts at Backbone Trail and is pretty easy to follow. This trail is also one of the top rock climbing spots in California—you'll definitely spot an outdoor lover or two tackling the peak. Once you make it to the top, marvel at the gorgeous views of Downtown L.A., Santa Catalina Island, and the San Gabriel Valley.

Once you trek the Mesa Peak Trail, you'll realize why many people call this state park "The Yosemite of Southern California".

4. Mesa Peak Trail

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 4.8 miles
Time: 3 hours
Route: Out and back
Dogs allowed: No

The Mesa Peak Trail is one of the best hikes in Malibu you’ll ever trek. Considered more of a workout rather than a nature walk, the trail is an uphill hike that challenges you in a good way. But do not fret—you’ll come across several picnic tables along the way, where you can catch your breath for a moment before continuing your way up. Equestrians frequently use the Mesa Peak Trail, so expect to see a lot of horses during your hike.

5. Bulldog Loop Trail

Difficulty: Hard
Distance: 14.7 miles
Time: 8 hours
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: No

Explore the best of Malibu Creek State Park while hiking the Bulldog Loop Trail. The length of the trail alone suggests that you’ll be covering a lot of the state park, allowing you to see more of Malibu Creek than you’d expect. However, as exciting as it is to trek Bulldog Loop, this trail is not suited for beginners—it can get very steep. But, if this isn’t your first rodeo, you’ll enjoy every bit of it. Upon reaching the top, you’ll be exposed to uninterrupted panoramic views, making every strenuous step worthwhile.

The Cistern Trail provides access to the Lookout Trail from Mulholland Highway and features some of the best views of Malibu Creek State Park.

6. Cistern Trail To Lookout Trail

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 1.3 miles
Time: 50 minutes
Route: Out and back
Dogs allowed: No

On a time crunch and want to squeeze in a quick Malibu Creek hike? The Cistern Trail to Lookout Trail is the way to go. The best time to hike this trail is in the morning when you’ll have the opportunity to take in the natural beauty all for yourself. Along the way, make a few stops to admire the ducks and the fluttering butterflies. Once you reach the top of the Lookout Trail, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views of Malibu Lake and the surrounding mountains. There’s no easier and quicker way to enjoy this can’t-miss state park than hiking this short trail.

7. Backbone Trail Loop

Difficulty: Hard
Distance: 7.7 miles
Time: 4 hours and 30 minutes
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: No

The Backbone Trail Loop is not for the faint of heart—it’s quite difficult to tackle. However, if you think you have it in you, you’ll come to realize that it’s one of the most breathtaking hikes you’ll ever take. Trek through narrow passages, large boulders, forests, and along a stream as you make your way to the top. Once you pass the fire tower ruins, the trail starts getting even steeper. But, you’ll forget all about your exhaustion once views of the Pacific Ocean emerge. We suggest hiking this trail clockwise; that’s where all the fun lies.

The Ann Skager Trail provides a generally flat walk through an oak savannah along an accessible path.

8. Anne Skager Trail

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 0.8 miles
Time: 30 minutes
Route: Out and back
Dogs allowed: No

There’s no better hike on the Malibu Creek State Park map than the Anne SkagerTrail. This short and easy hike is kid-friendly and hardly takes half an hour to complete, even if you have to stop every second along the way. Despite being a short hike, the Anne Skager Trail manages to pack in spectacular views—the trail features visits of Stokes Canyon, Las Virgenes Creek, and the mighty mountains around.

9. Rock Pool and Century Lake Trails

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 4.4 miles
Time: 2 hours
Route: Loop
Dogs allowed: No

Everyone agrees that the Rock Pool and Century Lake Trails offer the best panoramas for minimum effort. As one of the best hikes in Malibu Creek State Park, the trail boasts a number of picnic areas, where you can rest and extend your journey. Marvel at the gorgeous Century Lake, admire the beautiful mountains surrounding the park, and don’t forget to check out the Rock Pool—this is where The Planet of The Apes was filmed. 

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