Malibu creek's Nighttime Wonder
He lacked the words but uttered his toddler sounds. I couldn't ignore him any longer and stirred to see what had his attention. We were camping at Malibu Creek State Park in July, four of us with toys and clothes for our four-year-old and 18-month old boys pushing out the tent's sides. A mesh opening at the top revealed a blanket of stars and Kyle cooed at the sight for what seemed like an hour. He embarked on a star-gazing discovery despite his confinement.
We had enjoyed the park on that trip with friends and returned a year later to camp. More than twenty years have passed since that first camping trip, and I discovered for the first time the park's topography and heritage. that gave me a new appreciation for this valuable resource nestled in the canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains, only miles from the Pacific Coast Highway and the expanse of the ocean.
natural beauty on the chaparral trail
My wife and I had hiked once through the park on a rare outing that was just the two of us. We made our way to the location marked for MASH and then wound through the various trails back to the day use area.
I was there this month and we made our way into the park with several others during an afternoon break during a conference we attended at the Salvation Army Center. I didn't know the layout of the camp or where we were. We were walking along Mott Road and passed the Mott Adobe Ruins.
It's always fun seeing something unexpected for the first time, like you're a pioneer, despite the masses who have already passed by.
Maybe that's why this trip to Malibu Creek made an impression on me even though I had been there three times previously in a 22 year span. I was seeing everything new.
We turned from Mott Road and up the Chaparral Trail, not knowing where it was leading or high we were climbing.
We reached the trail's summit with a dramatic view of ridges and rolling hills to the north and south. The steep mountains provide a natural barrier against homes and malls spreading onto the uninhabited land. I'm filled with a sense of the dramatic and I'm inspired by the peaks and valleys that are so close to the ocean and only about 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles. The gentle flowers contrasting with the rolling hills that stand in contrast to the hard rock faces make nature as diverse as the people of Southern California.
The park is referred to as the "Yosemite of Southern California" and the "recreational crown jewels of the Santa Monica Mountains" on the website malibucreekstatepark.org.
A versatile history
Hiking trails in the 7,000 acres of land were once traversed by the Chumash Indians coming inland to the sea. A country club, the Crags Country Club, around the turn of the century ushered in the modern era. Other dwellers and landowners were 20th Century Fox Studios who bought land in 1946 and Ronald Reagan who owned 250 acres and used it as a ranch from 1951 to 1966. The land became a park in 1976.
The versatility has been shown in the many film productions beginning with a Mary Pickford film, Daddy Long Legs, shooting in 1919, How Green is My Valley and Planet of the Apes.
Steep paths and hills abound to challenge distance runners while plenty of flat ground and easy strolling paths make it possible to push strollers and wheelchairs.
There are 57 camping sites available for reservations through ReserveAmerica.com.
The park is located four miles south of Highway 101 on Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road.
For more information, log to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy website.
la county hiking trails website
A complete guide to hiking trails in all of LA County. Log on to trails.lacounty.gov.