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The Ultimate LA Family Guide ™
Malibu Creek State Park
The park is located right off the 101 freeway. If you are coming from Los Angeles you take the 101 Ventura free North and exit at Las Virgenes. Drive toward the beach and right after you cross Mulholland you will see the entry for Malibu Creek State Park on your left.
The cost to get into the park is a little steep: $15 per car. The price of parking is very real and while there is no admission cost per person, this parking cost in none the less could be seen by many as the admission cost. It’s key to note here that in 2007 it cost just $6 to park here so in only 4 years the price has gone up $9! Crazy!
We did see some cars parked outside the entrance to avoid the fee, but you need to hike on what is called the Grassland Trail to get in to the main part of the park and that will extend your hike another mile each way. As to the space just outside the park entrance, I am uncertain as to what spaces you are permitted to park in outside the parking lot without getting ticketed or worse towed.
First of all, you must know that we love nature, going outside, and are not afraid of insects, mud, and the other hazards that go along with hiking. After we parked the car, we encountered our first problem with our hike. We opened our car doors and were swarmed by aggressive bees. We tried to get out as quickly as possible, but the bees would not leave us alone and when we closed the doors we saw that several were trapped in the car. We eventually got them out but I was wary about one of getting stung like my sister-in-law had been a few weeks ago there. Luckily the bees were only an issue in the parking lot.
As you set out on the trail, you’ll cross over the creek on a bridge. On our way out we saw people swimming and playing the creek although it didn’t seem clean to us. As we walked the trail in the direction of the visitor center and Century Lake, we came across another problem: there was horse waste all over the trail. Now, LAwithKids.com loves animals and loves horses. Horse waste on the trails however became a huge nuisance to us and took away from the beauty of the scenery. The piles were so large that it became an issue with us trying to navigate around the numerous piles. These horses are not being used for transportation to work in lieu of an automobile, nor where they used for park security, rather they were for the sole benefit of the riders who roamed throughout the park and let their horse go to the bathroom at will. I really think it should be the riders’ responsibility to dismount and pick up their waste but this was not the case.
We hiked are way to Century Lake which is very pretty, man made lake with ducks. It is about a 3 mile roundtrip hike and has some hills, but nothing our 6-year-olds couldn’t handle. If you don’t want to walk that far then you can go to the visitor center which is about 2 miles round trip and has a picnic table to eat at or over to the Rock Pool. The walk is mostly streamside and under oak trees, and my kids had a lot of fun gathering acorns and picking up sticks. The trees were very pretty and we had a good amount of shade but it was November so if you go in the summer or at a different time I would definitely bring a hat and sunscreen. The picnic area at Century Lake was nice, and, if you did not look down since there was huge piles of waste on both sides of the table, we had a decent lunch. We were told that there used to be a rope in this area that allowed people to swing into the water.
One of the hiking destinations at Malibu Creek State Park is the relic of the television show Mash. Actually there are countless films and movies recorded here and the visitor center shows a video highlighting scenes from TV and movies that were shot here. The visitor center also has many displays showing the wildlife that call Malibu Creek home, including animal pelts and fun guessing game activities for kids. Our kids lucked out because one of the park employees was raising the flags on the flagpole and asked them to help him. I really enjoyed learning about all of the birds that live in the park and the staff were very friendly and helpful.
All in all we had a nice time, The kids liked finding the acorn and seeing the lake, but the horse waste, the bees and the steep parking fee are all turn offs and will likely keep us from making this one of our favorite LA hikes!