Difficulty PG Distance 2.1 to 5 miles Rating: 4-6 Santa Monica Mountains (West) Season: All year

Tapia Spur Trail and Nature Trail (Malibu Creek State Park)


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Tapia Spur Trail and Nature Trail (Malibu Creek State Park)

  • Location: Tapia Park, Agoura Hills. From the San Fernando Valley, take Highway 101 to Las Virgenes Rd (exit 32). Head south for 4.8 miles to the signed entrance to Tapia Park, south of Malibu Creek State Park, on the right. From points west, take Highway 101 to Lost Hills Rd. (exit 33). Turn right and go 1.1 miles to Las Virgenes Rd. Bear right and follow Las Virgenes 3 miles to the park entrance. From Pacific Coast Highway, take Malibu Canyon Road north for 4.9 miles (it becomes Las Virgenes Rd) and turn left into the park. Once inside the park, pay the day use fee of $3 per hour/$12 per day (if the gate is unattended, passes may be purchased at a machine), drive to the picnic area and take a hard left onto Dorothy Lane. Follow it about 0.4 mile to a parking area on the right side of the road, shortly before the Salvation Army camp entrance. The approximate trail head coordinates are N 34.0851, W 118.7104. Note: this is a different entrance than the Tapia Park Parking Lot farther south, which serves as a trail head to Mesa Peak.
  • Agency: Malibu Creek State Park/Tapia Park
  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 500 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
  • Best season: Year round
  • Dogs: Allowed at Tapia Park (first half mile of the hike), not allowed in Malibu Creek State Park
  • Cell phone reception: Weak
  • Water: Tap water available at the restrooms north of the nature trail
  • Restrooms: At Tapia Park and at Malibu Creek State Park just north of the nature trail
  • Camping/backpacking: At Malibu Creek State Park
  • More information: Trail description here; Hiking Project page here; mountain biking video of the trail here
  • Rating: 6

Malibu Creek State Park is best known for the M*A*S*H filming site, Century Lake and the Rock Pool, but it also features several enjoyable trails that aren’t well known, such as the two described here. This route is part of the much longer Bulldog Motorway loop, but it also is rewarding as a self-contained hike. With only moderate elevation gain and a decent amount of shade, it’s a good trail to keep in mind during the summer.

The hike begins at Tapia County Park, an adjunct of Malibu Creek State Park. The unsigned but easy to find Tapia Spur Trail heads north from the paved road, a short distance from the parking area, just before the entrance to the Salvation Army camp. Follow it uphill through a grove of oaks and then along the side of a ridge. Wildflowers include lupine, goldfields and California buckwheat. Saddle Peak dominates the landscape to the east, towering above Camp David Gonzalez. Other than occasional noise from the cars on Malibu Canyon Road, this area feels pleasantly isolated.

At 0.7 mile, you reach the high point of the trail, a saddle with panoramic views north into the park. The trail then makes a gentle 0.3 mile descent, now on a west facing slope with views of the Goat Buttes and Brents Mountain’s distinctive, pointy shape. Just over one mile from the start, you reach a gravel parking lot adjacent to the group camp. Follow the gravel road north through Malibu Creek’s flood plain, ringed by area’s trademark rolling hills and taller peaks. Turn left on the paved road and walk a short distance to the start of the quarter-mile long ADA-accessible nature trail.

The trail heads west into a grove of oaks, passing some picnic tables and a few interpretive plaques which describe the natural and human history of the area (including its use in film and television). After exploring the short loop, retrace your steps or continue deeper into the park as desired. The Rock Pool and Century Lake are about a mile away from the ADA trail; the M*A*S*H site is about one mile beyond.

Tapia Spur Trail, Malibu Creek State Park
Start of the Tapia Spur Trail
Tapia Spur Trail, Malibu, CA
View of Saddle Peak from the Tapia Spur Trail
Tapia Spur Trail, Malibu Creek State Park, CA
Looking north from the high point of the Tapia Spur Trail
ADA Nature Trail, Malibu Creek State Park
View of the Goat Buttes from the nature trail

Text and photography copyright 2017 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities.  By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail.  Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

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One comment

  1. I used to hike at malibu state park every weekend until people showed up with their noisy radios,getto blasters. Thrash /bottles/cans thrown everywhere- a total disrespect for mother nature and others seeking to enjoy this beautifull area.I avoid it like the plaque now………………..

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