The hike to the 4077th M*A*S*H film set site is not as well known as the hike to the world famous Hollywood Sign. But like the Hollywood Sign, the MASH hike features an iconic destination and a rich film history. Along with the M*A*S*H television show, which was filmed on the MASH Set Site, numerous well known blockbuster movies were also filmed within Malibu Creek State Park. Which, of course, adds to the iconic vibe.
The MASH hike itself is pretty much just a leisurely stroll through a section of the Malibu Creek State Park. The trail is mostly a wide dirt path with minimal elevation gain. There are, however, several short, but interesting side trips that help make this 6 mile journey a worthwhile and memorable hike. The side trips include Century Lake, the MASH 4077th Helipad, the Malibu Creek Rock Pool and the Visitor Center.
Distance: 5.8 miles
Duration: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 230 feet
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
The main entrance to the Malibu Creek State park is located four miles south of Highway 101 on Las Virgenes Road. You can use the official street address of 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, CA 91302, to get you into the park. Pay the entrance fee at the entrance station, tell staff you’re there for the MASH hike and then drive to the Lower Parking lot. Walk down the steps past the restroom structure, and then across the paved service road to the trailhead. The approximate GPS address is 34.1033, -118.7331. For more information, contact the park at (818) 880-0367.
Hikers on the Crags Road Trail to the MASH Set
MASH Hike Description
The MASH hike to the film set site and Helipad takes you from the lower parking lot to the M*A*S*H set film site in just 2.4 miles. You will follow Crags Road for the majority of your journey. Like some hiking trails, Crags Road splits into two separate trails for a portion of the hike and then converges back again into a single trail. Sort of like a “business route” that parallels a freeway for a spell before dumping you back on the freeway.
There’s a fork in the trail about 0.3 mile from the trailhead. The path on the right is called the High Road and the path on the left is the continuation of Crags Road. The High Road converges back with Crags Road in 0.6 mile. And just to make it a little confusing, Google maps calls both trails Crags Road. No worries, you can take either path for the MASH hike.
Note: The Grassland Trail from Mulholland Hwy also intersects with Crags Road about 0.2 mile from the trailhead. Just stay on Crags Road.
A good option is the take the High Road section on your way up to M*A*S*H set site and then take the Crags Road section on your way back. That way you can visit Century Lake on your way up and then visit the Rock Pool and Visitor Center on your way back. Doing the hike this way provides you with more variety than just hiking up and back on the same trail.
Century Lake is considered a Point of Interest and is therefore a nice side trip. The side trail leading to Century Lake is called Little Chihops. It is located about 0.4 mile past the convergence of the High Road and Crags Road.
The lake is more like an oversized pond than a lake. But it does provide a nice location for a short break on your way to the MASH site. Plus, its cool to know that portions of well known movies like the Planet of the Apes and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were filmed here. After soaking in the vibe, you can follow the wider lateral trail 0.1 mile back to Crags Road.
Century Lake — Old Time Movie Set
Crags Road Hiking Trail
Once back on Crags Road it’s about a mile to the MASH 4077th site. The trail is wide for about a half mile. But as you start hiking through Goat Buttes, you will find yourself on a narrow, rocky and partially shaded single track trail. It’s still the Crags Road trail.
This portion is about 0.6 mile and feels like a regular hiking trail. It’s a nice walk and quite enjoyable. Enjoy it while you can because you will soon enter a clearing and find yourself on the 4077th MASH film set site.
Goat Buttes Section of Crags Road Trail
The M*A*S*H Site
Malibu Creek State Park staff went the extra mile to restore a few props from the show. Mostly a military styled ambulance, a couple of old jeeps, and the famous M*A*S*H signpost. There’s also a shade structure with picnic tables where the mess tent was located during the show. And even though there isn’t much else left from the 4077th M*A*S*H compound, it’s still cool to walk around the site. You may feel nostalgic knowing that the hugely popular MASH show was filmed right here.
MASH 4077th Military Ambulance
The Helipad is just a short climb up a little hill from the shade structure. The Helipad was prominently featured in the MASH show’s opening theme. If you ever watched M*A*S*H, you know the scene well. Radar O’Reilly looks out over Goat Buttes as two distant choppers come into view. The helicopters fly closer and eventually land on the Helipad. MASH unit personnel run up the hill and retrieve the wounded soldiers while the chopper blades kick up dust.
It’s a memorable and iconic opening theme. You will likely feel touched when you stand on the M*A*S*H Helipad. Who knows, you might even hear the sound of distant choppers. In any case, the views from the Helipad are pretty nice. Certainly, well worth the effort of climbing the small hill.
View of the MASH Set from the Helipad
After you soak it all in and take picture after picture, you can then return the way you came. Except for this time, you will stay on Crags Road and take the quick side trip to the Malibu Creek Rock Pool.
Malibu Creek Rock Pool
The Rock Pool is just a short jaunt down from Crags Road. It’s not technically a part of the MASH hike. But it IS a Point of Interest. And since it’s located close to Crags Road, why not?
The Rock Pool is a shallow lake that butts up against rugged cliffs. One of the cliffs is a popular rock climbing location called the Planet of the Apes Wall. Huge rocks are visible just beneath the surface of the lake. It’s a nice place to relax and take some photos. Do not jump off the cliffs or dive into the Rock Pool. Not only is that dangerous, but it’s also against state law.
Malibu Creek Rock Pool
Malibu Creek Visitor Center
On your way back to the trailhead, you can also stop at the Visitor Center for maps, cold drinks and momentos. It’s nothing fancy. But you might as well get to it if you’re there. The Visitor Center is located near Crags Road and leads back to the junction with the High Road. From there, its a simple 0.3 mile walk back to the parking lot.
Note: If you take the High Road on your return back from the MASH site, you will bypass the Rock Pool and the Visitor Center.
It’s a short hike. You won’t see any lofty mountain peaks. But as you toss your gear into your vehicle, you will probably feel satisfied. The kind of satisfaction that comes when you experience a truly historic place.
For additional information about the MASH hike, check out the Malibu Creek State Park’s official M*A*S*H webpage. Also, along with the MASH site, you can also visit other parts of the Malibu Creek State Park. Areas that include canyon vistas, rolling hills, jagged peaks, and 15 miles of trails within 8,000 acres of wild, beautiful territory. Check the Malibu Creek State Park website for more details. Cheers!
If you like maps like I do, you’ll be pleased to know that maps are available for the Malibu Creek State Park. Which includes the MASH hike. I have the digital PDF version of the Tom Harrison map covering the Malibu Creek area available from the Avenza Maps App and the regular printed map from the Malibu Creek State Park.
Tom Harrison Malibu Creek State Park Trail Map
The Tom Harrison Malibu Creek State Park trail map is a topographical map covering the entire state park. Along with the contour lines, this map also indicates mileage between waypoints. It’s a good map.
The PDF version has a couple advantages over the print version. For one, you can pinch zoom the map on your smartphone for a much more legible view of the map. Your position on the map is indicated by a blue dot, thanks to your smartphone’s GPS. To use the PDF digital map version on your smartphone, you have to first install the Avenza Maps App. The downside of the digital version, of course, is it is useless if your phone’s battery dies.
The Tom Harrison Malibu Creek print map is still available, of course, from outdoor retailers or from Tom’s own website, tomharrisonmaps.com. Print maps serve as a good backup to the digital version and don’t require batteries.
California State Parks Malibu Creek State Park Trail Map
As you might expect, the California State Parks publishes their own Malibu Creek State Park map. It is not a topographical map, like the Tom Harrison version. But the trails and points of interest are clearly marked and legible. Also, because it is printed on both sides, it provides detailed information about the area, along with the trail info.
For example, the map lists elevation figures for the trail junctions and points of interest. The map also features a table that lists the mileage and difficulty level for all the trails. It’s a very well done map. It is available from the Visitor Center or the Malibu Creek State Park website. I ordered the map online using PayPal and received the map in the mail within a couple days of ordering.