Walking with the Stars

Three Great Hikes Near Los Angeles

Excerpted from Day Hikes in Los Angeles by Robert Stone

Reagan Ranch Trail

Summary of Hike: This ranch was President Ronald Reagan's home in the 1950s and 1960s before he was elected governor of California. It now occupies the northwest corner of Malibu Creek State Park. The state park is host to a variety of outdoor activities including camping, fishing, horseback riding, and hiking. It is also home to many animals, including mountain lion, bobcat, coyote, deer, raccoon, snake, lizard, golden eagle, heron, and duck.

The Reagan Ranch trails include a duck pond, a large rolling meadow, oak tree groves, stream crossings, magnificent views, and a visit to the Reagan barn.

Driving Directions: From Santa Monica, drive north on the Pacific Coast Highway for 13 miles to Malibu Canyon Road. Turn right and continue 6.5 miles up this beautiful winding canyon road to Mulholland Highway. Turn left and drive 3.2 miles to Cornell Road. Turn left again and immediately park along Cornell Road wherever you find a spot.

From the Ventura Freeway/101, exit at the Kanan Road off ramp. Drive south 0.5 miles to Cornell Road. Turn left and continue 3.3 miles to the intersection of Mulholland Highway. Park along Cornell Road wherever you find a spot.

Hiking Directions: From your parking spot, enter the ranch at a gateway through the white rail fence on the southeast corner of Mulholland Highway and Cornell Road. The unpaved road lined with eucalyptus trees leads toward the old Reagan barn, 0.25 miles ahead. Continue past the barn to a footpath—the Yearling Trail. The duck pond is on the left. Just beyond the pond is the beginning of the loop portion of the hike. Stay to the left on the Yearling Trail, heading towards the meadow. As you hike through the meadow, there are two separate side trails on the right that intersect with the Yearling Trail. You may bear right on either trail. They connect with the Deer Leg Trail for the return portion of the hike. To return, follow the Deer Leg Trail as it winds past large oak trees and crosses Udell Creek back to the trailhead.

Rock Pool and Century Lake

Summary of Hike: Malibu Creek State Park, purchased by the state from the 20th Century Fox movie studio in 1974, was originally home for thousands of years to the Chumash Indians. The park contains a Visitor Center, campground, a man-made lake, volcanic rock, sandstone outcroppings, majestic canyons, year around streams, and over 30 miles of hiking trails that spread over its 10,000 acres. This hike follows Malibu Creek to Rock Pool, surrounded by towering volcanic cliffs, and to the four-acre Century Lake. Tarzan, Planet of the Apes, and South Pacific, have been filmed here, to name a few, but it is most recognized for the M*A*S*H television series.

Driving Directions: From Santa Monica, drive north on Pacific Coast Highway for 13 miles to Malibu Canyon Road. Turn right and continue 6 miles up this beautiful, winding canyon road. The state park entrance is located on the left, shortly before reaching the Mulholland Highway intersection. Turn left into Malibu Creek State Park. Park in the second parking lot on the left.

From the Ventura Freeway/101, exit at Las Virgenes Road. Head south towards the mountains for 3.5 miles. The state park entrance is located on the right, shortly past the Mulholland Highway intersection. Turn right into Malibu Creek State Park. Park in the second parking lot on the left.

Hiking Directions: From the parking lot, cross the main road to the trailhead. Follow the High Road Trail as it slowly curves left alongside Malibu Creek to a bridge in the direction of the Visitor Center. Along the way, you will pass a concrete creek crossing on the left. At the Malibu Creek bridge, take the Gorge Trail to the right. (Crossing the bridge takes you to the Visitor Center.) Follow the trail a short distance, bearing left along the stream through a lava rock field to Rock Pool, 0.9 miles from the trailhead.

Return to the main trail back at the bridge. Take Crags Road, the main road, to the left. Continue on Crags Road uphill to a trail junction at the crest of the hill. From here you will be overlooking Century Lake and Las Virgenes Valley. The trail to the left leads down to the lake. Continuing on Crags Road leads to the M*A*S*H filming location. To return, retrace your steps.

Topanga State Park - Trippet Ranch Eagle Rock - Musch Ranch Loop

Summary of Hike: This hike begins at a beautiful picnic area with a pond and a one-mile nature trail. The hike follows a fire road up to Eagle Rock, an impressive eroded sandstone rock covered with crevices and caves. The views of the mountains and valleys along this trail, including Santa Ynez Canyon, are superb. The return trail is a footpath that descends past oak, sycamore, and bay trees. The Musch Ranch Trail includes lush vegetation, ferns, moss-covered rocks, and stream crossings.

Driving Directions: From Santa Monica, drive 4 miles north on the Pacific Coast Highway to Topanga Canyon Boulevard- turn right. Continue 4.6 miles to Entrada Road on the right-turn right. Drive 0.7 miles and turn left, following the posted state park signs. Turn left again in 0.3 miles into the Topanga State Park parking lot.

Hiking Directions: The trailhead is located at the end of the parking lot by the picnic area. Follow the trail uphill a short distance to a posted junction. Take Eagle Springs Road-the left trail. 0.5 miles along this gradual uphill trail, you will pass the Santa Ynez Canyon Trail on the right, which leads to a waterfall. Further along is the Musch Ranch Trail on the left. The trail forks in a short distance. Bear left to Eagle Rock, which is very close and visually prominent.

From Eagle Rock, return to the Musch Ranch Trail junction. Take this footpath to the right as it winds down to the creek bottom through lush foliage and dense oak, sycamore, and laurel woodland. Two miles down this trail is a junction at the Musch Ranch Campground. Follow the trail sign and walk across the meadow. Turn left a short distance ahead at an unmarked junction and left again at a second unmarked junction. The trail winds back down to the Topanga parking lot, passing a pond along the way.

Article copyright ICS Books Inc. All rights reserved.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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