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Bulldog Road / Castro Crest

Rock scrambling and a great workout hike in the southwestern part of Malibu Creek State Park / Castro Crest.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 7.6 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview:  Malibu Creek State Park sits in 10,000 acres of rugged terrain near the Malibu coast, protecting flowing creeks, man-made lakes,... more »

Tips:  Unlike other parking areas in Malibu Creek State Park, parking at this trailhead is free.

On Red Flag Days during fire season,... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Parking

Drive on Corral Canyon Road. It will become a dirt road and end at a small dirt parking lot in the southwest corner of Malibu Creek State Park. Unlike other lots in the park, there is no fee to leave your car here - although overnight parking is prohibited.

This is a big trail junction, with several roads, fire roads, and trails making their... More

2. Old Car Ruins

After a short scramble up some granite formations, the trail dips down into a shaded area of low brush for a short distance. If you look to the north side of the trail, you'll see the wreck of an old car buried in the ground.

While it looks like the car has been there for quite some time, a lot of the body is still visible and easy to make out... More

3. First Scrambling Area

Here, you'll reach the first scrambling area, where granite and heavily folded sedimentary rock have formed a whimsical area for low-impact rock scrambling. There are several fun folds to explore, and an easily-reachable small rock arch that's perfect for photo-ops.

From here, you'll also get some outstanding views of the Malibu Bowl to your... More

4. Mesa Peak Motorway Jct

Stay left at the 3-way junction with the Mesa Peak Fire Road, which in this area is also part of the Backbone Trail.

5. Rock Spiral / Second Scrambling Area

On the north side of the trail, you'll spot another large granite and sedimentary rock formation and a piece of local hiker art - a rock spiral.

This rock spiral is apparently getting larger as hikers continue to stretch out the design. Feel free to add a few rocks to the end to participate, or just walk along the path to the center.

After... More

6. Corral Canyon Rd

Here, the Mesa Peak Motorway ends at Corral Canyon Road. Take a right on the road to return to the parking area where you started.

From here, you'll also be able to see the ruins of a burned down house just south of the Fire Road. All that's left is the foundation, a few remnants of what appears to be a water tank, and some out-of-place trees.

7. Castro Motorway

At the parking area, head to the north end of the lot and look for the sign for the Castro Peak Motorway. Pass the gate and start climbing up this rough fire road heading to the west.

8. Use Trail Jct

There are many use trails and maintenance roads branching off of both the Castro Peak Motorway and Bulldog Road. Many of them are not marked on maps, and most aren't signed either - so it can be easy to take a wrong turn.

At this use-trail, keep to the right to stay on the Castro Peak Motorway. Continue climbing in elevation, and the road will ... More

9. North Views

When the Castro Peak Motorway turns to the north side of the Crest, you'll start to see some of the real highlights of this route - the deep, wide-ranging views into Malibu Creek State Park.

Most of what you're seeing from this angle is in the Kaslow Natural Preserve, and the landscape is drastically different from what you'd encounter along the ... More

10. Bulldog Motorway Jct

At 2410 ft, this junction with Bulldog Road is the highest point on this route.

At the junction, take a sharp right to head onto Bulldog Road - continuing straight on Castro Peak Motorway will dead-end at a private property boundary.

From here, you'll be descending to 1150 ft (or lower if you choose). Bulldog Road is a fire road, but it's full ... More

11. More Views

From vantage points along Bulldog Road, you'll have commanding views of the entire Malibu Creek State Park and beyond. From here, you'll get a full appreciation of the strange topography in the area, as well as great views of Malibu Lake, the Peter Strauss Ranch, and Paramount Ranch to the north.

12. Keep Right at Maintenance Road

There is a small dirt maintenance road for the high tension wire towers here. Keep right at the junction to stay on Bulldog Road.

13. Stay Left on Bulldog Rd

Here, keep left to stay on Bulldog Road, avoiding another maintenance road. By now, the road has entered into an area of thicker vegetation, and there is some sporadic shade - but this route is still mostly exposed. Be sure you're saving some water for the trip back up!

14. Keep Left at Junction

Keep left at the junction with another short maintenance road to stay on Bulldog Road.

15. Dry Creek

The trail crosses a creekbed here. The area is shaded and the air is noticeably cooler than the rest of the canyon.

This creek is seasonal, and only flows during the wet months.

16. Junction / Turnaround

This junction at 1300 ft is a good place to turn around if you're doing an out-and-back - but you can continue to the floor of Triunfo Canyon in 1.2 miles by keeping right at the next two junctions. This will drop you to an elevation of 695 ft and give you a bit more of a climb on your way out.

Otherwise, you can turn this into an epic loop of... More