Notes on the Good Life: Hiking at the Malibu Creek State Park

Posted: May 19, 2009 in Nature, Snapshots of the Good Life
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For the nature enthusiast, nothing is more pure and unalloyed than a simple trek through the wilds. A nature walk need not be anything fancy, nor does it have to be anywhere exotic. While many of us dream of finding the wherewithal to backpack and rough it through the Black Forest or Kilimanjaro, often the best place to start is around your own backyard, during the weekends of the more tolerable months.

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We’ve been spoiled here in Coastal California. There are many breathtaking views of mountains, forests, and the Pacific Ocean – all within commuting distance from home. Just recently, my Partner and I decided to venture north from our usual stomping grounds in the West Valley. We originally planned to find the Charmlee Wilderness Park, where we would get the best of both worlds, a view of the hills and the Pacific Ocean at the same time. We had recently been at such an awesome trail when we made the drive to Santa Barbara during Spring Break. For a quick fix, however, we wanted something closer to home.

As with most half-baked schemes, we didn’t get there. That was not such a bad thing, however. Serendipity comes hand-in-hand with a sense of adventure, and being adventurous doesn’t always entail planning to find out about something.  In this case, we were not disappointed. My Partner had remembered a nice, scenic trail at the Malibu Creek State Park.  It’s the site where the TV series M.A.S.H. was shot on location. Planet of the Apes was filmed here, too. She had mentioned a waterfall somewhere in the heart of the park, and we set out on foot to find it. We never did find the waterfall, either. The friendly guides at the Visitors’ Center would tell us later that it it had dried out years ago; it was probably man-made and too small to impress, anyway.

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We still got a feast for the eyes, as we traversed the easy trail. There were rows of oak, sycamore and other trees that provided ready shade if we had to stop.  The best parts of our hike were a breathtaking panoramic view of the forests on the hills and the discovery of a water hole, somewhere at the end of the right side of the trail. From a winding trail that led back to the edge of the park, the mountains and their lush greens on the opposite end were beautiful beyond words, conveying the look and feel of English rurality, yet the simple elegance, the magnificence that could be found anywhere in places touched by God.

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The Creek (for which the Park is dubbed) can be found running parallel along this side of the trail.  Because of the warmer season, the water level has been low, rendering it marshy. There are discontinuities along the creek because of the low tide, with clusters of rocks bracketing it in intervals. That hasn’t stopped a small colony of ducks from settling on the banks of creek; they peppered the air with familial quacks as we continued on our way.

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Through yet another fairy-tale type forest path, we exited and diverged back to the open road, which led to a steel bridge that led to the Visitors’ Center to the left. We chose to move on and continue with the present trail. The sight of people walking around in bathing suits gave us a clue that there was a gathering place not too far away, maybe a watering hole of some sort. We’d seen about two rocky spots on the way on either edge of the creek, with single families having picnics. The sight of children swimming and bathing in the green (possibly algae?) waters grossed us out.

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The waters at Rock Pool seemed more promising. We walked through a stone-laden path, carefully avoiding clumps of poison ivy, to make it to our last discovery of the day. A great pocketed volcanic rock overlooked our path; it had TR (training routes) cables hanging on any given side of it, for mountain-climbing enthusiasts in training.

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Rock Pool. At the end of our trail, we finally found the jackpot: A spacious, stone-bottomed pool, with water that looked clean enough to swim in. Families were gathered around, enjoying picnics, swimming, or just basking in the Sun, taking in the view. Sounds of screams and explosive splashes punctuated the 100-or-so foot dives of a few brave souls who leaped from a high rock overlooking the Pool. Otherwise, everyone simply enjoyed themselves on this weekend refuge. A few park violations went on – smoking, drinking, the occasional joint… and of course, the daredevil dives.  We looked at each other and shrugged; the diving would hurt the most, if one didn’t jump off the right angle.  But heck, it was fun to watch.

The water was cool and inviting, and my Partner would have gone in for a dip. But I was ready to check out soon, so we headed on back.  Instead of returning the same way, we crossed the steel bridge to the other side of the trail. It was more open but no less scenic. For a short hike, we got more than our share of delights that day. We vowed to return here soon, this time to enjoy the cool waters of Rock Pool, and perhaps visit the ruins of the MASH and Planet of the Apes set. Next time, I’ll bring my swimming trunks and a sixpack of booze. Maybe even a joint. 🙂

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Copyright Anabasius 2009 (All Posts & Photos)

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