As the world begins to reopen after months spent at home, there’s one place that many people are beginning to feel safe venturing out to: The great outdoors.

Yes, avoiding large gatherings, wearing masks, and social distancing are still necessary steps to slowing the spread of COVID-19 (even in public outdoor spaces), but thankfully, there’s plenty of breathing room to go around here in Malibu — especially at Malibu Creek State Park.

Sprawling over 8,000 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains, Malibu Creek State Park is an oasis of rolling plains, sparkling bodies of cool water, and craggy peaks. And while there are some limitations for visitors currently (high-density areas such as the Rock Pool and Century Lake remain closed), given its vast size, there are still endless ways to discover the recreational experiences and rich history of this iconic park.

Malibu Creek State Park History

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by LA Hikes (@lahikes) on

Long before the modern era, the land now known as Malibu Creek State Park was inhabited by the native Chumash people — in fact, Malibu’s name comes from a Chumash village that was pronounced “Umalibu” by the Spanish. Millenia later, the first homesteads in Malibu Creek State Park were built by pioneers around the 1860s.

In 1900, the Crags Country Club was formed by a group of 100 LA businessmen seeking a rustic, nature-immersed escape from the city. They purchased 2,000 acres along Malibu Creek and constructed a Bavarian lodge (its foundation remains after being torn down in 1955), as well as a dam to create a seven-acre lake for fishing and duck hunting. This later became known as Century Lake after 20th Century Fox Studios purchased the property in 1946, after the Crags Country Club ceased its operations in 1936.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Mark Hamman (@mh_hamm) on

This cinematic legacy is perhaps Malibu Creek State Park’s most well-known history. Fox Ranch at the Malibu Creek State Park would go on to set the stage for dozens of iconic films, including The Seven Year Itch, Love Me Tender, Planet of the Apes, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Beyond the silver screen, it also served as the set for the hit show M*A*S*H from 1972 to 1983.

The State of California acquired Fox Ranch in 1974 (along with neighboring ranches owned by Bob Hope and Ronald Reagan), opening the park to the public in 1976 and allowing the land to be transitioned to mostly recreational use (although some filming continued with special permission).

What to Do in Malibu Creek State Park

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Polola (@pololaf5) on

This open-air paradise offers a vast array of recreational opportunities for visitors to take part in, including:

  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Bike Trails
  • Bird Watching
  • Rock Climbing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Swimming
  • Fishing
  • Camping

While Malibu Creek State Park lakes such as Century Lake and the Rock Pool are closed for the time being, and camping is currently prohibited in the state (thankfully, your comfortable accommodations at Malibu Beach Inn are just a short drive away), there’s still an abundance of activities to be found.

For example, Malibu Creek State Park hiking and running are beloved pastimes for locals and visitors alike. With more than 17 fantastic trails spread throughout the park, there’s an option for every level, from simple and scenic to challenging and heart-pounding. (You can view Malibu Creek State Park trail maps and trails here.)

You’ll also see mountain bikers traversing the Malibu Creek State Park bike trails — try a private, guided ride with XEN MTB to experience mountain biking like a local. Malibu Creek State Park rock climbing is another exciting adventure available in the park, and the pros at Rock n Rope Adventures are open and ready to show you the ropes (literally).

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by @live.present on

And if you’d prefer to just take an easy stroll during your getaway to the ‘Bu? You certainly won’t be disappointed, given the Malibu Creek State Park wildflowers that bloom from spring to fall, the breeze that ripples through the tall grasslands, and the panoramic views of nearby Las Virgenes Valley and Malibu Canyon. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure kind of place, and the beauty is that you can’t go wrong.

Malibu Creek State Park is open from 8am to 10pm, and parking should be paid for in advance through the Pay by Phone App. For more information on park limitations at this time, please visit

Featured Photo: Steve Voght via Flickr / CC BY