5 Great Things About MASH Hike

If you were ever a fan of the TV show MASH, hiking to the filming site is a pretty cool experience! Even if you weren’t a fan it’s a great hike and Malibu Creek State Park is beautiful.  Totally worth the effort, wherever you might be coming from.  The entire hike is just under 5 miles.  You can find the directions to find the MASH site here.

It Still Looks Like It Did When MASH Was Filmed here!

The actual location has changed very little, bushes & trees are larger and the buildings are gone but you can recognize all of the backgrounds of the outdoor scenes.  They look exactly like they did in the show.  It’s very cool and a bit weird being in the scenery of an TV show from your childhood. While you are standing there you can almost hear the chopper coming over the mountain top and the medics running to the helipad with the stretcher!



The photo opportunities are too much fun to miss!  If you are into hiking it’s a nice break and some good silliness.


The above picture on the left was taken of us hanging out in the swamp.  Yeah, THE (actual) SWAMP! If you don’t know what the swamp is: I can’t help you. Anyway, Yay, us!  Even as kid, I knew that was the place to be.  There is a cool little  map that gives you the location of everything!

Below is a picture of the path up to the helipad that the doctors and nurses used to run up to.  We did a reenactment.  I’d highly recommend it, if for no other reason than to make everyone you’re with (and around you) laugh!

The picture below is where the Mess Tent used to be.  The netting helps with shade and is a great place for a snack.





You’ll learn ALL of the movies that have been made at Malibu Creek State Park.  There are so many, I’m not sure where to start.  The complete list is here.  My personal favorites are The Lost Horizon and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!


This park is beautiful, truly beautiful.  There are so many amazing things to see!  There are old oak trees, beautiful flowers and their are so many textures it’s difficult to describe.  It’s gorgeous!  There’s even a swimming hole.  Don’t miss this place!  I’d put it into my top ten things to do in LA County.

– Laura




By | 2017-08-12T14:45:58+00:00 July 9th, 2017|Hiking, Hiking in Los Angeles|3 Comments

Hike to MASH Site in Malibu Creek State Park, California

Want to hike to the MASH site?  Having grown up in the 80’s, the TV show MASH was a huge part of our childhood.  Finding out that we could actually hike to the filming site (and that it was just an hour from our home in Orange County, CA) was incredibly exciting (ok, honestly, maybe a tiny bit too exciting).  These tips will help you bring the right necessities, locate parking and easily navigate your hike to the MASH site!

Side tidbit… about three years ago we took our 18 year old daughter to New York  to drop her off at college.  While there we spent a few extra days and did “Kaela’s tour of New York” at her request (which included the firehouse from Ghostbusters, the restaurant and office from Men In Black, Central Park bridge from Enchanted and the bar from How I Met Your Mother).  She loved it.  I had a different experience.  The firehouse was nostalgic, but didn’t blow my mind.  That said, the MASH set…totally different.  If you were a MASH fan, there is something inherently odd and cool about standing in The Swamp and seeing the mountains surrounding you.  Maybe it’s the hike or the fact that it’s been so long since MASH was filmed, I’m not sure why, but we loved this hike!

Before You Hike to MASH

Make sure that you pack sunscreen, water and snacks!  Expect to spend about 2 to 5 hours at the park.  the entire hike is about 5 miles.  There are so many things to explore at Malibu Creek State park.  If you’d like to extend the hike, you’ll have no problem.  Another huge tip:  if you are anything like me and your body flips out from Poison Oak, make sure that you wear long sleeves and pants.  It is abundant in this park!

Download a map to your phone or purchase one.  We love Avenza maps and you can download their map at this link  for $0.99.  I also recommend printing this map to take with you.  The beginning of the hike is confusing due to huge water runoff this spring.  However, I’ve tried to add as many pictures as possible, to help you find your way.

Getting To Malibu Creek State Park

The address for your gps is 1925 Las Virgenes Rd, Calabasas, CA 91302. You can find extra information regarding park hours here.  Parking is $12 per day or you may use your annual state park pass.  It will work at this location.

Parking and Trail Head For MASH Hike

After passing the ranger hut, there will be a parking lot on the left with picnic tables but, keep going.  The next parking lot (again on your left) is the best place to park.  You will see bathrooms and the trail head begins right behind them.  The pictures below are the view of the parking lot from the road and the bathrooms.  These pictures are ridiculous!  Nonetheless, we believe it makes it a bit easier and more fun when you know that you are in the right place.


There is a small walkway downhill and several steps through a canopy arch of trees (looks like pictures below).


Next you’ll see a river and small swimming pool with a bridge that crosses the water.

When you see this sign for Crags Road know that you’re on the right path.

The road is paved and takes you up a small hill.  It veers to the right and turns into a dirt road (High Road Trail).  You’ll see the hill below on your right.  There will be a fork in the road right after that goes across the river.  If the water isn’t high you can take this road to get to the visitor center, but we suggest staying on the dirt road on the right.  You’ll see some of the most amazing, old oak trees of your life!  You’ll miss them if you take the road to the left.


This, my friends is the view to the left!

Visitor Center

Continue following the road until you see porta potties and a road to your left.  This will take you over a bridge to the visitor center.  It is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 4.  They have native wildlife and vegetation exhibits, a kid’s room and cold drinks for sale.  My favorite part was a complete list of the films that have been made in the park, including my (Laura) all time favorite, The Lost Horizon.

After the visitor center, follow the trail back over the bridge and continue on the road to the left.

***Note:  There is another trail before the road which is a short up and back trail that will take you to a swimming hole called Rock Pool Trail.  This area is extremely popular in the afternoon and is ranked as one of the best swimming holes in Southern California.  It is worth checking out before or after your hike!  Check out the picture below, the majority of traffic in the park were headed to this swimming location.

After you turn left, the road is called Crags Road on your map.  Follow the signs towards the MASH site and Century Lake.  The path will take you up a hill.  Century Lake is on the way to the MASH site and a short distance off of Crags Road.

Century Lake

At the top of the hill you’ll see a sign on the left for Century Lake.  It is a short detour and worth the ten minutes.  Again, watch out for Poison Oak!

When you are ready to get back on Crags Road to continue to the MASH site you can take the trail around the lake which meets with Crags or return the same way.  Follow the road past Lookout Trail (on your right).  Soon you’ll see and cross this old washed out bridge and reach this trail marker. Continue following the trail.


We passed a docent on the hike who explained to us that in April the area we were walking in was under four feet of water (we hiked in July).  So, it is important to point out that large amounts of water move through this area in the winter months. Evidence of this is everywhere. Trees toppled, damage to the bridges and roads/trails being washed out.  You’ll start to recognize the mountains and skyline from the show at about this point.

You’ve arrived when you see this ambulance. Yes, it is one of the ambulances they used during the filming of MASH!

Hope you have a great hike! – Laura and Paul





Vermillion Valley Resort: Shangri-La of the Sierra

Our first impression of (what we now lovingly call The Shangri-La of the Sierra) Vermillion Valley Resort was not a pleasant one. We were exhausted, filthy, cold, wet and hungry.  Hiking the John Muir Trail had proved to be (almost) more than we could handle.  We were about half way through our  250 mile hike.  The miserable challenges we faced included snow, ice storms, high winds, lightning and nasty, oozing, debilitating blisters.  We were behind schedule. Food was low.  More importantly, so were our spirits (literally and figuratively).


At this point we don’t even remember what day it was or how many days we had actually been on the trail. It felt like forever since we had had beer, showers and non-freeze dried food. Our trip had been rough. The night before, the JMT had blessed us with another special challenge: a broken tent pole. We were fifty miles of tough backpacking away from a store or tools. Now, considering this was Laura’s sister’s first backpacking trip,  (way to go big CC, kudos!) she had done admirably well.  Yet, the look on her face told us that this was too much. We hoped for the best as we rigged her tent haphazardly to a tree.  Par for the course, the rain started again. It held through the night.


The next day, fate smiled upon us.  We oddly found a set of tent poles, in perfect condition, just sitting on a stump next to the trail. What are the odds?  It was like somebody had left them for us. Remember we are in the middle of nowhere at this point.  While the tent poles were not from the same exact tent (too much to hope for?), they were the same diameter. Now, all we needed were some tools to make the repairs and the tent would be good as new. Fortunately, we soon arrived at our next resupply point, Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR) or, as we affectionately call it: The Shangri-La of the Sierra.

PLIGHT ACROSS THE DESERT TO LAKE EDISON (that’s what we’re calling it!)

Plight?  Yep.  That’s what we’re calling it.  Lake Edison wasn’t what we expected.  California was in an extreme drought the year we hiked the JMT and the water level was disturbingly low.  This added several miles of hiking in sand at the bottom of the lake in order to get to the water. Our plan was to catch a ferry to the resort.  It looked apocalyptic. There were wooden posts with upside down orange Home Depot buckets leading the way to the water.  The writing on the buckets had worn out and was illegible.  We passed tree stumps and items that had rusted years before under the water.  All were now visible in this odd environment.

It looked like it had been deserted for years. Seldom did we see other footprints in the sand.  We made jokes about none of us knowing that the world had ended. I’m not sure any of us thought they were funny.  We hadn’t had news for many days.  It seemed like eternity in some ways.  I realize how crazy that sounds, yet there is an odd disconnect from the outside world when you’re on a long backpacking trip.


We expected a pontoon boat with blue stripes (just like the cute one in the picture on their website, right?) to pick us up at the water and take us across the lake.  In the distance instead, we were able to make out a shirtless man, waving to us, from a very small motorboat.  Well, really it was a dingy.  We waved back, then had a discussion about how to proceed.  It simply wasn’t what we expected.  The scene felt off, but our food supply box was across the lake.  It was pretty simple.  He hadn’t done anything for us to question our safety, in fact he was nicely waving. Not taking his boat would add an extra 7 miles each way to our hike.


As we came closer, we realized the man was much older than we originally thought.  His skin was leathered and dark from the sun.  Hair was bleached, teeth yellow and several were missing.  The boat was by far, in worse shape than him. He must have seen our hesitation because he turned into a salesman of sorts.  Trying to convince us to hop in the old boat.  He explained that the water was too low to bring out the other boat.  We acquiesced, feeling a bit like horror story victims.  Hoping that he wouldn’t kill us, nor would the boat sink.  At some point we all started to calculate how we would survive the boat going under.  The patches were leaking badly. We made quiet conversation.  Each in our own world, just happy to be sitting down and accepting our new situation.  As it turned out he was a really nice person and we were just tired and paranoid.

Overdramatic?  Possibly.  Looking back the situation seems harmless.  However at the time, we were exhausted.  That’s my only explanation.  Don’t judge.  For the sake of pure honesty and a good story, that’s really how it went down.


We were thrilled when we made it across the lake and headed into a channel.  The ease didn’t last long when we saw the old Land Rover with velvet orange and green striped interiors and no seat belts that was to take us to the resort.  We’re not sure if the windows were down or missing.  We drove through sand and dirt.  Not that it made us any dirtier.  It really didn’t even matter at that point and we all knew it. The apocalyptic feeling continued. In a frenzied state of constant risk management, I forgot to take pictures.  However, I did get them on the return trip which are equally glorious.  If this van had picked us up (we sat on milk crates and were locked in the back) I never would have jumped in!  The entire trip I could hear my parents tell my seven year old self to never get in the back of a van.


When we arrived, the man drove us around the back of the resort.  So we saw run down cars, old motor homes, rusted machines and equipment.  It wasn’t what we expected at all.  Our hearts sank a little.  Remember we’ve been living in Orange County, California for the past few decades!  It’s possible that our idea of a “resort”  might be a little off.  Then, we walked to the front.


Wait a second…there was an adorable little store.   And a restaurant.  We walked in and the nicest woman welcomed us and told us to grab a beer… for free!  Such a small gesture, a free beer.  Nonetheless, it made us proud and thankful for the acknowledgment of accomplishing the part we’d already done on the John Muir Trail.


Vermillion Valley Resort is located among the pine trees on the shores of Lake Edison in the John Muir Wilderness. The resort features a full service restaurant, grocery store, motel, tent cabins and a marina. In addition, Vermillion Valley Resort caters to John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail hikers offering resupply, Wi-Fi, laundry, showers, free campsite for the first two nights and a free beer upon arrival.


At this point, I will pause to dispense some advice to hikers: Stop at Vermillion Valley Resort, plan a resupply, pay for the water taxi ride (no matter how it looks) and take a zero day.  Trust us!  You’ll save about 5 miles of hiking (two more if the water in the lake is low).  Other hikers walked around the lake in order to get there, lost half the day, had no water access and truly regretted it.


We arrived, found an impressive variety of frosty beers and friendly staff who, upon hearing about our broken tent, took us to their workshop. The workshop was a giant A framed building filled with every tool we could imagine. We were surprised that the guy just smiled and said we could use whatever we needed and left. Best part, it was free!  We completed the repairs and returned her tent to like new condition. After that, it was time to explore the rest of the camp.


Vermillion Valley Resort was an enchanting place. When you arrive you set up a tab for your purchases. After that, anytime you need anything the clerk, who remembered everyone by name, would simply add the beer to your tab.  It was like walking into your own kitchen. The food at the restaurant was delicious. We feasted on wine, thick, juicy, steak and plump, fresh vegetables.    Everyone who worked at Vermillion Valley Resort was incredibly nice.  Most had hiked through and decided to stay or came back some seasons.  They offered free food to hikers in exchange for work!  The 8 minutes for $6.50 showers were great!  In our wildest dreams we never thought a public shower could possibly be magical.  We were wrong.  They are at the Shangri-La of the Sierra.


We ran into a lot of the people that we had met along the trail.  A reunion of sorts, we became friends.  It felt like home.  Considering what a strange arrival we had, none of us want to leave.  Ever.   After daydreaming about it, Paul even looked into buying the place after returning home!  There is a simplicity about life that only exists in the Shangri-La of the Sierra’s.  Another great example friends, Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  It might just surprise you.  We’ve been to a lot of “resorts” and none have taken a piece of our heart like this place

By | 2017-09-23T16:42:42+00:00 May 25th, 2017|Hiking, John Muir Trail, Uncategorized|3 Comments