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Cistern Trail to Lookout Trail is a 1.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Calabasas, California that offers scenic views. The trail is rated as moderate and is primarily used for hiking.

Length 1.3 mi Elevation gain 390 ft Route type Out & Back
Hiking Views No dogs
Description
Waypoints (0)
Facilities
Getting There

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.

Parking is free on the pullouts along the highway. There are no restrooms.

From Las Virgenes Canyon Road near the main entrance of Malibu Creek State Park, head west on Mulholland Highway for 1.8 miles. The trailhead is on the south side of the road, just east of a dirt turnout. The trail sign is set back from the road, making it difficult to spot. Just west of Cistern Trail is another trailhead on the north side of the road for Phantom Trail. This trail sign is easier to spot. Turn around when you see it, and the start of Cistern Trail will be apparent on the south side of the road.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (130)
Photos (373)
Recordings (127)
Completed (250)
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Amy Reynolds
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Hiking

First portion was great and empty (and accounts for most of the uphill) but as soon as you join Malibu creek there’s a fair amount of people. There’s a lot of trail intersections, so check your map. Start was covering a lot of area recovering from fires a little while ago, so not much shade there or in the last couple of miles.

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Manuel Moreno
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HikingNo shade

There was no shade and dust everywhere but it was fun when you could pick the other trails that are close by.

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Paige Nguyen
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HikingNo shade

If you like to squeeze in a quick hour hike this is it. Going in towards the creek will be downhill, and tracing back will be a slight uphill. There little to no shade on this trail. Overlook pass has a clear view and paths are mostly narrow, fitting only one person at a time. Average valley hike but nonetheless always worth it to check out!

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Arturo Sagastume
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 19, 2020
HikingBugsNo shadeOver grown
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John-Scott Horton
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Hiking

Amazing views. Very pretty. Good mix of elevation and flatness. Pretty crowded, but worth it.

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Conrad Gerger
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Hiking

The cistern trail is awesome. I’ve done it more times than I could count. The spring is obviously the best time. The caterpillars take the place over come March. Then the amount of butterflies a couple weeks later is insane. It’s a great point to start at if you want to head to the mash site or do the loop around Malibu creek. I think it’s the more beautiful and less crowded trailhead into the park.

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Simran Kumari
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HikingBugsOver grown
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Lucy Ricca
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HikingBugsOver grownRocky
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Randa Ramia
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Hiking

It’s a easy short hike, nice warm up going down to a good sweat on the way back up.

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Hope Sanderson
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HikingOver grown
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Robert Castillo
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HikingOver grown
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Emelly Villa
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HikingNo shadeOver grown

This shadeless trail was easy downhill, and then extremely difficult trail running uphill in 80 degree weather. The plant diversity was gorgeous, slightly overgrown, but with breathtaking views. Overall I got a great work out, but would come back when temp gets cooler.

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Dee Cabrera
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HikingNo shade
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Loren Wilson
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Hiking

Beautiful hike!! Sweeping views of the canyon and rockfaces and great lookouts over Century Dam. There are lots of interconnecting trails so you can easily add mileage and pick from many paths - will definitely go back and try another route! Today we took the route mentioned in the full description above - Cistern Trail down to Lookout Trail, went right and followed the trail around to the opposite side of the water, then turned back and returned the way we came. - Moderate - mostly flat until you make the return back up to the road (where you climb a few hundred feet) - Long pants recommended - It was somewhat overgrown in parts, nothing very bad where it's hard to hike but there were some crazy sharp & prickly plants in a few places you won't want to walk through in shorts - GO IN THE MORNING. We started at 9:30am and it was mid 80s (15 degrees hotter than when we started) by the time we finished around Noon. Would have hated to be out there much later with that heat! - Also started to get much more crowded around 11; for the first half we only saw a few people. - The trail down to the lake was closed today, not sure why One of my favorite LA hikes I've done recently! Can't wait to go back and check out some of the other trails.

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Candy E
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HikingBugsOver grown
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Jessica Mae Mendoza
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HikingOver grown

This is our first hike using this app, we loved it! It was beautiful but recommend going in morning during summer because it’s HOT!! Second half was mostly uphill and a little tough for me since I couldn’t find a shady spot to break.

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Amanda Lehman
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HikingBridge out

One of the prettiest trails to hike. I take it down to the creek to get to the MASH site. The bridge is out so you have to find another way across to get to the site. Love coming here.

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Arsen V
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Hiking

It was really beautiful

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K C
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMarch 9, 2020
Hiking

Our car was broken into while we were hiking. They stole cash and debit cards. BEWARE

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Chris Shule
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Hiking
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Anita Kaplan
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Hiking

Exit 101 North at Las Virgines, turn south (left), go to Mulholland, turn right. Go 1.8 miles. Trailhead is on the left. Dirt parking next to road.

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Gabrielle Otis
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 14, 2019
Hiking

Took this with my 3 year old, didn’t quite give us enough time to go all the way down to the turn around. But the views were amazing, it was nice to see some green in this area when everywhere else I’ve been had been brown.

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Bobby Black
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HikingNo shade
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