Time to exit the warren, put down the painting brush, enjoy the temperate California spring day, and take a hop. Having hiked in to the old M.A.S.H. filming site many years ago, WR felt that a return hike into the Santa Monica mountains was needed. Details on the M.A.S.H filming site are all over the internet, several YouTube videos, and internet links posted at end of article.
The old M.A.S.H. filming site is located in the Santa Monica mountain near Los Angeles and only 15 or so miles from the warren in the San Fernando Valley. Easy drive on the northbound 101 freeway till you reach the Las Virgenes Road. Exit the 101 Freeway and head south towards the ocean and beaches. After you cross Mulholland Highway look for the park entrance on the right or western side of the road. Parking was $12.00 at the park entrance, use the paypoints in the parking lot if no ranger at the toll booth. There is parking outside the park, some WR understands on Mulholland Hwy which just increases your hiking distance by another mile round trip.
From the parking lot inside the park look westward for the trail head entrance. There are several trails at this conjunction of the park. Look for Crags road or signs. The trail is westerly in direction so going any other direction will lead you astray.
If you have no clue as to your bearings… there are several posted maps in the park viewing boards near the entrance. Coming down the steps or ramp will led you to a concrete weir over or across the small stream. At right is your first distance and direction sign as seen below. Only 2.3 miles to go. Make sure you have carried water with you. Phone service was spotty in places. For those in the cavalry branch of service by riding horseback you have the right of way over the foot infantry. Artillery wasn’t mentioned on the sign post.
First 1/2 mile goes quick along an open, nearly shade less dirt fire road. Rangers on occasion drive up and down this roadway. Encouraging sign at 2.1 miles to go…. you have walked two-tenths of a mile. At this sign the roadway splits into two paths. Either works as they join up again further in the park near the visitor’s center. WR for the narrative walked the right hand fork.
Further along another “Y” in the path. The left hand path crosses a bridge to the visitor’s center and joins the other path mention before. To reach the M.A.S.H. site go right young hiker as the battered sign so points. You will see ahead the hill grade which you must hike over. About 200 feet in height and steep in some parts. Drink some water and press on.
As you descend the other side of the hill you will pass a path leading to the Century Reservoir at left. From the roadway you would never know that there is a lake 100 feet away due to the overgrowth. WR stops at the lake on the return hike / trip so press on. Soon you will notice the path is becoming narrower as you venture forward.
For the French Republican wargamers out there reading this M.A.S.H. article… you soon have that feeling the terrain is like the Normandy hedgerows or the Vendee revolt. The roadway becomes a narrow twisting path in places. Pitchfork or Panzerfaust anyone?
If you cross a concrete weir along the way again you are on the correct trail. If not… hope your phone works but rest assured the City of Los Angeles is nearby in any direction…. if the mountain lions don’t have you for their dinner party.
Signs are good…. only six-tenths of a mile to go.
Occasionally you will encounter the mountain biking groups on the trail. Step off trail and both can pass. At points the path is uneven ground so watch your foot placement.
The stray boulder rolls down the nearby mountains during the rains. Found this one on the trail. Look for the State of California flower – California Poppy – during the spring months.
As the undergrowth thins, you soon see the old M.A.S.H. filming site. Just walk around, take in the fresh air, and mountain views. WR’s first place to visit was the old cleared helio pad overlooking the camp. From there you can see the entire layout below you.
First item of note. The M.A.S.H. movie set, done at the same location, had a different camp layout from the T.V. series. Compare the two layouts and check out the M.A.S.H. Camp web article linked below on the camp’s various layouts and episode filming.
Well that it. You are half way on your hike. Have orders been received to force march 2.3 miles back to remount your iron steed? On the return trip stop at the Century Reservoir just before the hill climb. There is a dam ramp road down to the lake. When leaving the lake viewing go up the pathway directly behind the lake, not the path route which you came down on initially. Saves you some distance and joins on the “main” road way on the hill.
General 4077th M.A.S.H. information about the “Camp”: The M.A.S.H. Camp.
Cheers from outside the warren.