Malibu Creek State Park today is primarily used for hikers and horse riders, but you’ll find quite a bit of movie and TV history there, as the area was once home to the Fox Ranch, formerly owned by 20th Century Fox.
For decades the land was used as an exterior backlot, hosting many productions, including the original “Planet of the Apes,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and several “Tarzan” films. One of the most famous locations was the area that stood in as South Korea for exterior scenes for the TV series “M*A*S*H*,” based on the 1970 Robert Altman film.
The area has long since closed as a backlot and is now owned and operated as state property. The state has made an admirable effort to maintain the old “M*A*S*H*” filming site. From the main parking lot on Crags Road, the set can be found by hiking about 2.4 miles (4.75 round trip). It takes a couple hours, but the trail is mostly flat, so it’s not a physically demanding journey and should be suitable for most visitors.
Unfortunately in late 2018, same fire that destroyed much of the Paramount Ranch also tore through Malibu Creek State Park, damaging parts of the “M*A*S*H*” set. However, unlike Paramount Ranch, the remnants around the M*A*S*H* set actually survived the fire and remain in tact for the most part, albeit with some heat damage. It’s actually not the first wildfire to come through the area. During the filming of the show’s famous final episode in the 1980s, wildfires were approaching, which were written into the show. Some of the original vehicles from the show were severely burned in those fires. In spite of that, they remain on display to this day. So the M*A*S*H* set will, in all likelihood, live on for future visitors, as the area slowly recovers.
We had the fortunate opportunity to visit the old set grounds long before the 2018 fires. Here we’ll take a look at a bit of what could be seen there.
LOCATION: Malibu Creek State Park, Agoura Hills, CA 91301 (currently fire damaged)
The first thing approaching hikers would see is this jeep, which was added as a prop and was not original to the the show.
This vehicle, on the other hand, was original to the show. You can see it suffered heavy damages from the 1980s wildfire.
Here is another burned car frame at the site, also original to the show.
This sign was a recreation. It suffered heat damage in the 2018 fire, but will hopefully be repaired or replaced in the future.
A lot of the surrounding rock formations and geography will also be familiar to fans of the show. While Malibu Creek State Park slowly finds sings of life again, the “M*A*S*H*” site too will hopefully be restored to it’s former glory.