Cistern Trail to Lookout Trail is a 1.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Calabasas, California that offers scenic views. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking.
The scenic vista point at the top of Lookout Trail provides a beautiful view overlooking Malibu Lake and the surrounding mountains. Park along Mulholland Highway and hike down the quarter mile long Cistern Trail to a T-junction with Lookout Trail. There are scenic views over the park along the way, including a great perspective of the Goat Buttes. Turn right at the junction and head west for 0.43 miles to a junction with Cage Creek Trail. Continue straight ahead on a grassland-crossing single track named Yearling Trail. Just past the marked junction with Cage Creek Trail, there is an unmarked junction with Deer Leg Trail. Turn left here (or make the left at the next junction on a connection trail to Deer Leg Trail) and follow this trail to the base of Lake Vista Trail. Deer Leg Trail heads uphill into the trees for a short distance before turning sharply to the right. There is a footpath continuing straight ahead down a slope toward Crags Road at the bottom of Cage Creek Trail, but this is not the way to Lookout Traill. If you miss the sharp right turn and begin a steep descent, it is time to backtrack. Saplings arch over Deer Leg Trail to provide pleasant shade. Pass through a junction with the connection path coming up from Yearling Trail, and progress westward to the second of two picnic tables. Take the split to the left on Lake Vista Trail. The junction is unmarked and easy to bypass. Look for stone steps at the bottom of the trail to verify that you are on the right track. If Deer Leg Trail exits the forest and returns to grasslands toward a junction with Yearling Trail, you have missed it. Ascend the wooded ridge, gaining 260 feet over 0.72 miles. There are limited views through the trees until you reach the top of the ridge and are presented with a sublime view to the west over Malibu Lake. The lake looks seductive from this perch, a gleaming gem of water hidden by tall green mountains. The trail continues for 0.1 miles descending to a junction with an Edison service road. To the left, the road continues another 0.1 miles to a dead end that provides the greatest view of the slender Y-shaped lake. To the right of the junction, the road descends 200 feet over a third of a mile to a trailhead off Lake Vista Drive. The steep road has loose rutted soil and is not the best for hiking. If you are returning to the Cistern Trailhead, it is best to hike back via Lookout Trail. Those who chose to start hiking from the nearby trailhead off Lake Vista Drive, which also provides access to Paramount Ranch, could hike east over asphalt for 0.37 miles to Reagan Ranch (once owned by the former president) at the west end of Yearling Trail. Take that horse-trodden single track for 0.13 miles to a V with the west end of Deer Leg Trail. Turn right and hike a quarter mile to the picnic table, and make a sharp right on to Lookout Trail. From the top of the trail, descend via the service road back to the trailhead off Lake Vista Drive for a 2.1-mile loop. From Cistern Trail to the Lake Vista Overlook is 4.1 miles out and back with 350 feet of elevation between the low and high points of the trail. The elevation profile of this hike is bowl-shapedm with uphill hiking in both directions. Tack on Century Lake or the M*A*S*H set to extend this outing to 4.85 or 6.35 miles. There are exceptional views along Cistern Trail and from the end of Lookout Trail, making for a worthwhile hike.