Bulldog Loop Trail

HARD 95 reviews
#3 of 18 trails in

Bulldog Loop Trail is a 14.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Calabasas, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.

14.6 miles
3,018 feet



mountain biking

nature trips

trail running



wild flowers


no dogs

12 days ago

This hike's difficulty is largely weather dependent. I tried this hike today thinking there would be fog all day. Instead, the sun was blazing hot with very few spots of shade. Climbing continuosly uphill in dry desert-like 90 degree weather is very very challenging. My friend started showing signs of heat stress ( less than half way through). Another hiker on the road also experienced sypmtoms. Experienced Mountain bikers who passed by seemed unaffected. I loved the challenge and the scenery was breathtaking. However, I would highly recommend tackling this hike during cooler months/ very early in the morning. I will definitely return again to try in winter.

About the trail: signs are marked very clearly throughout. The uphill is not the steepest (streets in SF are a lot steeper) but, it is a constant uphill (after reaching the MASH site) in grueling heat.

21 days ago

Three stars? There is so much beauty in the Santa Monica mountains but I didn’t like hiking the majority of this hike on fire roads. I liked the elevation gain challenge and there were amazing ocean breezes at the top. Using AllTrails map as a guide made navigating this hike easy. We parked in the lot for $12. The counter clockwise loop recorded at 15.2 miles.

1 month ago

Amazing hike - highly recommend, if you can make the whole thing.

2 months ago

Loved this hike! I loved the challenge, length and beauty of this hike. So much to see. It was foggy in the morning, sunny by the end.

We hiked counterclockwise and really didn't have too much difficulty finding the trail back to Malibu Creek SP. When you reach the bottom of Mesa Peak Motorway/Piuma trailhead (where the toilet is), go left down the well worn trail. There will be a couple of small trails to the right - take one of them. It will take you down to the road to the water treatment plant. Turn left, look for small sign that says trail. Across from it is a small sign that says Backbone Trail. Follow the many trails down to the creek and cross it. Hike up in the direction of Malibu Creek SP on one of the many trails. When you get to the next paved road, turn left through the road gate. Continue on that trail until you reach the Camp Gilmore junction. The trail is across the way. It sounds like a lot, but it's not really too bad.

3 months ago

I’ve done this hike twice, counterclockwise and clockwise . You can do this hike without walking on Las Virgenes road, but it’s difficult to find the trail if you do it counterclockwise. It’s also easier to find the trail if you download the satellite layer of the map. If you do it clockwise, it’s easier to find the trail, but you’ll have to cross Malibu Creek. There are some rocks that you can step on so that you don’t get your feet wet. I uploaded my route from 5/25/2018 going clockwise and not walking on Las Virgenes. This route is a steeper ascent, and the views aren’t as rewarding on the descent. The counterclockwise route provides better views on the descent and is less steep ascending. You’ll want to bring at least two liters of water and lots to snack on, including a lunch. I burned over 4000 calories on this hike. Since most of the trail is exposed with almost no shade, hiking is best done before June or on a cloudy day. One of my favorite hikes, if not my favorite, in the Santa Monica Mountains. The views and the breeze from the top are heaven.

4 months ago

Beautiful trail

4 months ago

Absolutely gorgeous hike. I was concerned the fire road would be a bummer, but it never took away from the incredible views and stunning variation in landscape. So much green! I live in the desert and do 99% of my hiking in the desert, so if this review seems a tad hyperbolic, that’s why. Minus one star for being forced to walk along Las Virgenes.

5 months ago

It a good starter hike. Mostly fire roads and little shade.

trail running
5 months ago

If you start inside Malibu Creek SP, it’ll be an easy 2.5 miles in til you reach the start of Bulldog. That’s when the fun begins.. over 4 miles of incline to the peak. Don’t do this run/hike when it’s hot because you will hardly get any shade. View is great, you get to explore the caves (if it’s open to the public).

Be very careful on the descent. If you stick to the wide trails, you will end up on a parking lot off Las Virgenes, which will be 2 miles away from where you started. You’ll be hiking on a very busy road where the sidewalk disappears sometimes.

Definitely not for beginners. If you want the view and the challenge of Bulldog, or if you just want the elevation gain, I suggest you go out and back. Don’t do the full loop unless you pack a lot of water. It’s going to be a long day for you.

7 months ago

Great hike. A bit of a climb so make sure you are ready for the elevation change and the length. Also beware of the trail skips on the southern part of the loop before you get to the Mesa overlook trail shown on the current map. It’s doable you just have to forge your own path, find a different trail or use the road.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A good walk. The first few miles through a wooded valley as the sun came up were very beautiful. Then a long steady climb to the trail along the ridge. The views from the top were wonderful, but it is all along fire roads until near the bottom of the descent. The way back on GPX route from the Backbone trail trailhead was not a path. I walked along Las Virgenes for a short way before heading back into the park.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Awesome views of the ocean once you climb to Casto Peak. The GPX was very confusing at the junction of the Backbone trail parking lot just next to the water treatment facility. Had to hike on the busy road and re-enter the park to find the trail. Lost the trail again (in the dark with headlamps) at the bottom near the campgrounds and had to finish the hike on Malibu SP roads...still agreat day

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Awesome hike! Awesome views! King Snakes! When you're done you feel like you actually accomplished something!

Sunday, March 26, 2017


mountain biking
Saturday, March 25, 2017

Beautiful ride as always, but the recent storms have really washed out the rock garden, making it a much tougher trek than usual. The usual "trail" through the rock garden is pretty destroyed, and lots of roots and other debris to contend with. I struggled or even had to walk my bike through a good portion of it that I am normally very comfortable riding through. Unsurprisingly, lots of hikers/walkers to navigate through, and on a weekend most are unfamiliar with trail etiquette, so don't expect anyone to yield to you or otherwise make space. Overall, one of my favorite moderately challenging rides with gorgeous scenery and some fun sections of trail.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The first 3 miles are relatively easy then miles 4-7 just kick you butt with a major incline and 0 shade. Other then the lack of shade it gives you some great views with an overlook of Malibu.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Excellent hike! We got caught in the rain on top, but continued on. Fantastic views on top, easy roads to hike. Trails are clearly marked except on the eastern side of the trail. Map is a bit confusing there, and you have to take some detours to stay on course. Very few people after an hour in. MASH set was an excellent surprise!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Loved it. I went clockwise. The uphill was great, awesome coastal views along the high ridge, pretty gradual downhill on the other side. Sweeping views all around. All in al the trail is moderate but it's long. Most of the trail is sun-exposed and on a fire road.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I run the bulldog50k 2016this weekend . Is a very challenging course .. Now I'm planning on just hiking the loop no running .

Thursday, July 14, 2016


mountain biking
Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Was very Nice trip love the Hills on the Road Fire, no much single tracks for MTB .

Thursday, May 26, 2016

This is a loop trail...but the map is wrong at the highway part - one does not need to get on the highway in order to get back on the main parking lot.
Mottroad is shown on the map and it should be taken instead of highway but if not careful enough you might miss it; the road adjacent to the right of Mottroad can be taken as well..
Once you reach the highway one only has to cross bridge over that DWP creek then make a left thru a parking lot - cross the parking lot and trail can be seen right away - is gated by wooden beams...

trail running
Wednesday, May 18, 2016

challenging loop. beautiful. IMPORTANT: those below writing that the finish is on the main road, DID NOT find the correct route at the finish to stay on the trail. Hard to find the correct finishing trail but it is there.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Great but the last part is on a busy road which is no fun...would prefer to finish on dirt rather than pavement.

Monday, April 11, 2016

It was the longest and best hike I have done so far.
I did with 4 of my friends and total miles hiked was about 19. We met some of the nicest people and a true gentleman in every way, who helped us when we got to the caves. I honestly didn't think there were any more real good men left in this world. His wife and his mother would be so proud , plus he was VERY HANDSOME !!!
The views were amazing, the cave's were an unexpected surprise.
The 6 mile hike all Up up up up was strenuous but well worth it. What an amazing world we live in.!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hard work, but do rewarding when you reach the top!!

mountain biking
Sunday, December 20, 2015

I come from the European side of hikes and this hike was a great 6 hour long hike I did it during the winter and I went superbly well was not to warm but take a lot of water

trail running
Monday, August 03, 2015

First time visiting this loop, did it as part of a training run for the Bulldog 25k trail race. Started off at Malibu Creek State Park (mile 0) and went counter clockwise direction on the loop. About 2.3 miles into the run we ran into the MASH site, kinda cool place to visit and take pictures of some of the leftovers from when they filmed the movie and TV series decades ago. Just before mile 3 the trail starts climbing up fairly steeply and doesn't seem to stop until about mile 6. Then it descends for about a mile when it reaches a trailhead parking lot. Good place to stop and take a breather as the trail starts climbing again through some interesting landscape. The rocks make it look like it's some alien landscape but it's Malibu. About 2.5 miles of up and down running we then hit a good descent, a drop of about 1000' in 1.3 miles. We crossed over a small creek and then took a different trail than the one shown here to get back to Malibu Creek State Park, opting to not go on Las Virgenes. Very difficult running for me and probably for a lot of people, but the challenge is worth the scenery. Make sure you bring lots of liquid, especially if you go during the summertime like I did.

road biking
Thursday, June 11, 2015

A lot of steep climbing, about 6+ miles worth, the elevation seems to be incorrect, strava clocked me at 3039' of elevation. Exposed in the sun almost the whole time (as its a lot of fire roads) so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Amazing views of the canyons and ocean!!

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