malibu creek state park

A Complete Guide To Malibu Creek State Park

Situated within the Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu Creek State Park offers an exceptional escape to nature if you are looking to get outside from the surrounding areas of Malibu, Los Angeles, or Thousand Oaks. The park features some incredible geology that you wouldn’t think of for Southern California — there are volcanic rocks throughout the park, and much of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The volcanic rocks, known as Conejo Volcanics, are from Conejo Mountain in Thousand Oaks. This mountain used to be a 10,000 ft volcano over 15 million years ago according to Thousand Oaks Acorn.

As someone who lives in Southern California, I have visited this area a few times. I enjoy this area due to the incredible hiking and camping options. One feature that stands out in this park is its unique rock pool and volcanic rock landscapes.

Below I will dive into a complete guide of Malibu Creek so that you can have the best time possible exploring the area. 

malibu creek state park rock pool

Where is Malibu Creek State Park?

The Malibu Creek State Park is situated in the Santa Monica Mountains by Thousand Oaks. It is approximately 10 minutes from the heart of Malibu and an hour from downtown LA with no traffic. From where I live in OC, it’s closer to an hour without traffic if I’m lucky.

malibu creek state park map

Best Time To Visit Malibu Creek State Park

The best thing about California is the consistent weather year-round. Any time is a good time to explore the park, but having a clear idea of the activities you want to experience can streamline your trip-planning process. 

Temperatures will still drop into the 40s-60s in the winter and can be a scorching 90° in the summer, but there is really no bad time to visit – except on the rare storming days. 


Summer is typically the peak season to explore this region, and for good reasons. The weather is warm, making it an ideal time to discover Malibu, but being exposed to the sun in the middle of a hot summer day can get unbearably hot as well so be mindful of the temps if you are heading out for a hike. Even an easy hike can feel extremely hot. 

If you are planning to visit in the Summer, be prepared for larger crowds, as both visitors and locals flock to enjoy the outdoors. Hiking trails tend to be quite busy during these months, and you will need to secure your camping spot well in advance. 


Fall is a great time to visit the park. The temperatures are moderate, you may experience some fall foliage, and the crowds tend to be fewer than in the summer months. 


The winter season is off-season for the area. You will generally experience cold weather and not many people in the park which I personally think is nice. If you don’t mind the cooler weather and prefer fewer people, this could be a great time to visit. Even though it’s Southern California, it still gets chilly so make sure you pack layers.


I suggest planning your visit to this region during the spring months, between March and May. This timeframe offers moderate weather and the blossoming of wildflowers throughout the park. 

Unlike the busier and warmer summer season, spring provides fewer crowds with pleasantly mild weather.

It’s an ideal period for hiking and climbing, allowing you to enjoy the trails and picturesque scenery without the sweltering summer heat.

Plus, there are typically frequent wildlife sightings during the spring months. 

malibu creek state park

What To Do In Malibu Creek State Park

There are many different things to do within the park. Keep reading as I showcase my favorites for you to have an enjoyable time outdoors exploring the area. 

Spend A Few Nights Camping

There are plenty of Malibu Creek State Park camping options including over 50 spaces for visitors to enjoy within the park. There are token-operated showers at the campground and fire rings when conditions allow for usage. The best way to reserve your spot is to visit their website online to guarantee you have a campsite upon your arrival. 

Camping reservation details: Go to and select Malibu Creek SP in the search bar.

Go Hiking

There are many different Malibu Creek State Park hiking trails. Whether you want to try quick and easy hikes in the area or you want to try your hand at harder and longer trails, there are plenty of options to pick between. 

One of the most popular hikes in the area is the Malibu Lake Trail. This hike is considered to be moderately challenging and is 6.4 miles in length. It’s a terrific hike if you want to get a good workout in and gain some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, rock formations, and see a lake.

An easier option within the park is the Rock Pool and Century Lake Trails. This hike is 4.5 miles in length and is considered to be fairly easy with just 341 feet of elevation gain. You will be able to take in some awesome views of the Rock Pool and Century Lake as well as the park’s landscape and surrounding mountains. 

For one of the most challenging hikes in the area consider trying the Backbone Trail Loop. This hike is considered to be hard with an elevation gain of over 2,000 feet. The trail is 7.7 miles and has some truly breathtaking views of the surrounding Santa Monica Mountains. I recommend bringing hiking poles if you plan on trying this one!

Try Biking Around The Park

If you’d like to spend some time getting a workout in and you would like to take in the beautiful scenery of the park, there are countless options for riding a bike around the park. 

One of the most popular bike trails is the Grasslands Trail which is 6.2 miles in length. This is a great option to experience some greenery and grasslands. 

Visit The Mash TV Show Popular Spots

Whether you want to hike or ride a bicycle to the Mash TV Show site, there are a few differ trails to take to get there. I recommend taking the Malibu Lake Trail. 

Make sure to bring your phone or camera along with you so you can get plenty of photos of the Mash ambulance and trail sign. 

Enjoy Stargazing

Southern California offers a unique stargazing experience, and Malibu Creek State Park stands out as an excellent location for it. I suggest camping within the park and dedicating a few nights to really take in the beauty of the stars. While you might think the park is too close to Los Angeles’s light pollution, it’s tucked away just enough to see the stars sparkle in the dark night.

Look For Wildlife

One of the best activities to do in the area is to look out for wildlife. There are countless different animals roaming throughout the park. Be on the watch for various deer, rabbits, lizards, birds, and many others. 

Enjoy A Picnic

There are a few different designated picnic areas inside of the park. I suggest embarking on an activity like hiking or biking and then coming to a picnic area to enjoy a nice lunch afterward. 

Experience Rock Climbing 

There are many different rock formations and surfaces to climb around the park. Malibu Creek State Park is known for a “water crossing” to access the rock climbing crags — the traverse along the boulders above the water was easier than I expected, but it is still always nerve-wracking because you could still fall in the pool. This is a great activity if you are looking for more of a challenge and epic scenery from above. 

Catch Some Fish

If you would rather have a more relaxing experience, head to one of the different lakes throughout the park to catch some fish. For anglers 16 or older, you will need a valid license to fish in the area.

Hotels Near Malibu Creek State Park

Numerous hotel choices are available in close proximity to the park. I’ve outlined the top hotels in the area below to simplify your decision. 

The Hilton Garden Inn Calabasas is located a short 10-minute drive away from the park. This is a great option if you wish to stay in Calabasas close to a few different restaurants and shopping options. 

Another great option is the Hyatt Regency Westlake. This hotel is situated in the Westlake area, just outside of Thousand Oaks. This is another great option close to many restaurants and shopping and is only 14-minutes to the park. 

The Malibu Beach Inn is another top choice, especially if you want to stay by the shore. This 5-star hotel is known for its fabulous location on the water and close to the Malibu Pier. It’s famous for its beautiful rooms, incredible restaurant, and friendly staff. This hotel is a short 11-minute drive from the park and a great place to stay for a fun getaway in Malibu.

tiffany lin @followtiffsjourney malibu creek state park rock climbing friends

FAQs About Malibu Creek State Park

Below I have answered a few of the most commonly asked questions about Malibu Creek State Park.

How much does it cost to go to Malibu Creek State Park?

It costs to park at the Malibu Creek State Park. You will need to pay $3 for 1 hour, $6 for 2 hours, $9 for 3 hours, or $12 for the day. 

What shows were filmed at Malibu Creek State Park?

One of the most popular shows that was filmed at Malibu Creek State Park was Mash. 

Is Malibu Creek State Park dog friendly? 

The park is dog-friendly but not all of the trails are. I recommend checking out the AllTrails app to see which trails your pup can come on beforehand. 

Can you fish in Malibu Creek State Park?

You can fish in the park but not in lower Malibu Creek or the Malibu Lagoon. 

The Wrap Up: Malibu Creek State Park Guide

Malibu Creek State Park is a great place to spend some time outdoors enjoying nature and trying fun activities. 

Residing in southern California, I can vouch for the park’s beauty and the countless activities it offers. Whether you’re keen on hiking, camping, or simply appreciating the outdoors, Malibu Creek State Park provides a perfect escape.

Plus, its proximity to popular California destinations like Thousand Oaks, Los Angeles, and the center of Malibu makes it easily accessible for a quick day trip full of adventure. 

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