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EAT, DRINK & PLAY   -   GET OUT OF TOWN
Get Out of Town! - Malibu Creek State Park
From Hollywood Backdrop to Fine Example of Southern California Geography
April, 2006 - Issue #18
You don't have to go far in Southern California to find yourself in a far-away country, or even on a different planet. We live in the world's largest movie studio back lot and familiar locations are constantly changing costumes to take on different roles.

If there were Oscars for such a thing, Malibu Creek State Park, formerly owned by Twentieth-Century Fox, would certainly deserve one. Its varied terrain was Tarzan's domain in the 1930s, was ruled by primates in the "Planet of the Apes" movies, and stood in for Korea on the "M*A*S*H" television series.

Malibu Creek State Park

Getting there: Malibu Creek State Park is located at 1925 Las Virgenes Road in Calabasas. From Santa Clarita, take Interstate 5 south to Interstate 405 south. Continue west, or north, on US 101 and exit at Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road. Turn left and head four miles south toward the ocean. The park will be on your right.
Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset. Visitor Center is open weekends only.
Phone: 818-880-0367
Camping Reservations: 800-444-7275, www.reserveamerica.com
Website: www.parks.ca.gov. Click on "Find a Park" and select "Malibu Creek."
Miscellaneous: Dogs are welcome in the day-use and campground areas, but not on the backcountry trails.
Before that, the area was the private Crag's Country Club, and was once a center of Chumash Indian culture. Owned by the state for more than 30 years now, Malibu Creek State Park can finally be appreciated for what it is: a stellar example of Southern California geography. Comprised of 4,000 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains near Calabasas, the park is a mix of oak-dotted rolling hills, craggy rocks and dominant ridgelines offering views of the nearby Pacific Ocean. Malibu Creek meanders through the middle of it all, providing a lushness not always found in Southern California's mountains and canyons.

Because of its size and diversity, Malibu Creek offers a range of experiences to visitors. Hikers, bikers and equestrians take to its trails that vary in length and degree of difficulty. Crags Road, more fire road than trail, is easy on the legs, making it suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities, especially families with young children. The Bulldog-Backbone Loop is a rugged, all-encompassing tour of the park that takes you away from the crowds and rewards your efforts with panoramas of sky, sea and mountains.

Malibu Creek welcomes anglers. And seven-acre Century Lake, created by damming the creek in the early 1900s when the area was a private country club, is something of a marshland that hosts a variety of water-dwelling birds.

A home dating from the country club era houses the park's visitor center, where you will find various displays on the features and history of the area. Picnic sites scattered throughout the park offer shady respite for a lazy lunch.

With so much to see and do, Malibu Creek State Park is worthy of an entire weekend. A well-maintained 60-site campground enables visitors to settle in for a couple of days and take their time exploring the park. It is open year-round and equipped with restrooms and showers. Fees range from $15 to $25 per night depending on the season and reservations are recommended.

If you can't spare a weekend, a full Saturday certainly will give you a feel for the place, and spring brings a double feature of cooler temperatures and dazzling wildflowers.

Malibu Creek State Park may no longer be a star of the silver screen, but she shines in her latest role and audiences find her performance captivating.

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Eric Harnish is a Newhall resident.
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