This ride can be done in either direction but both feature a challenging fire road climb and a screaming fire road descent. There is some good, although short, singletrack: a portion of Crags Road
along Malibu Creek, a fun, rocky section at the high point near mile nine, and the last mile of the descent on Backbone Trail: Corral Canyon Trailhead to Tapia Trailhead
. The Backbone Trail has great views and a cool ocean breeze in summer. At about mile 3.5, you can go back into a canyon where there is a small lake/swimming.
Bring $12 (2017) for parking in Malibu Creek State Park. The parking machines take credit cards.
This loop starts outside the park along Malibu Canyon Road assuming you've found free parking outside Malibu Creek State Park. Take the fun little singletrack Tapia Spur Trail
into the park.
This is followed with an easy ride out along Crags Road
to the location for the M*A*S*H outdoor set. There is about a half mile of singletrack along Malibu Creek just before the M*A*S*H set.
Shortly after the M*A*S*H set, you'll start the long, arduous climb of Bulldog Motorway
. Bring plenty of water and prepare for a long grind to the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains. Along the way, you'll enjoy sweeping views back into the Malibu State Park and the Santa Monica Mountains.
Once you reach the top of Bulldog Motorway
, turn left onto Castro Peak Motorway
and descend to the Corral Canyons Parking area. From there, you can continue following this loop along the Backbone Trail: Corral Canyon Trailhead to Tapia Trailhead
which initially is a steep but rewarding climb on a rutted, wind-formed, very grippy rock formation. The reward for this climb is a short descent of the same rock formation.
After that, the Backbone Trail joins the Mesa Peak Motorway for most of the descent down to Malibu Canyon Road. The last mile of the Backbone Trail is a steep, twisting singletrack descent. Enjoy, but watch for hikers. A short segment along Malibu Canyon Road completes the loop.
If you don't like the looks of the rock formation at the start of the Backbone Trail, you can continue a quarter mile on Castro Peak Motorway
and then turn left onto the Upper Mesa Peak Motorway
section which soon joins the route for the Backbone Trail.
Much of Malibu Creek State Park is the former 20th Century Fox Ranch. It was used by the studio to shoot a number of movies. Perhaps though the property is best known as the outdoor site for M*A*S*H. (Since many of you are probably too young to remember - this was a movie and later popular television show set in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War running from 1972-1983). You'll reach this site around 4.7 miles. There are a couple of very rusted vehicles, one less rusted ambulance, and a couple of informational placards.