Posted by: GeekHiker | March 3, 2009

HIKE: Peter Strauss Ranch

The Peter Strauss Ranch is a place I go to sometimes for no other reason than the fact that it has a big parking lot.

No, seriously.

The reason for this is that the lot is usually empty, so it’s an easy place to park the truck under a shady tree.  Even with the sound of Mulholland Highway right behind you, it’s peaceful, with a nearby stream, tall trees, various birds, and hawks soaring up and down the canyon.  There’s even a flock of wild parrots, though the noises they make are slightly more annoying than the cry of a hawk.

Peter Strauss 01
Pair of hawks in a tree near the creek

Of course, I never thought I’d be writing it up as a hike post, either.  The hiking, such as it is, isn’t long.  Still the park is still an excellent place to relax or have a picnic, so I thought I would share.

Be sure to pick up one of the park brochures, which details the area’s life as the home of the Chumash people, part of an 1881 land grant survey, the weekend retreat of Harry Miller (who patented the master carburetor), to childrens amusement park (with a small dam-formed lake called Lake Enchanto) and home of Peter Strauss, who sold the land to become public property in 1983.

To explore the park, start by crossing the bridge along the highway over the creek from the parking lot, turning left and entering the park, passing a small rock tower.

Peter Strauss 03
Pedestrian entrance to the park

Walking up the original entrance road, you’ll pass a small cactus garden and turn right to see the house itself, small by modern “star’s mansion” standards.

Peter Strauss 04
Ranch house with the terrazzo dance floor/patio in front

Be sure to walk past the house to see the historic circular pool.  Despite it’s decrepit state today, it’s easy to imagine what it must have looked like in it’s heyday.

Peter Strauss Photomerge 02
The old pool

Peter Strauss Photomerge 03
Looking at the old pool from the deep end

Returning to the house, turn right and head up the hill, passing an old aviary and a small outdoor theater.

Peter Strauss 06
The old aviary

Peter Strauss Photomerge 05
The small amphitheater

The trail curves around the theater, continuing up a series of switchbacks.  After a few turns, the trail levels out and follows the hillside, looking towards the other side of the canyon dotted with very expensive homes.

Peter Strauss 07
Starting up the trail

After a quarter mile, the trail switchbacks downhill, finally reaching a junction.  On the map available in the parking lot, the trail to the right appears to only go a couple hundred feet and stop at the park boundary, but in reality the trail continues another quarter mile or so to a chain link fence, where it swings left and drops down to Triunfo Creek.  From there, the usually barely-there creek can be followed back upstream to the parking lot, but it was too deep to cross while I was there.

Peter Strauss Photomerge 01
Winter swollen Triunfo Creek

Going left from the junction, the trail quickly returns down to the canyon floor and a small picnic area near the old dam, which once formed Lake Enchanto.

Following the road to the left will take you back to the house and the park entrance.

More pictures here.

Total Distance: ~1.5 Miles

Elevation Gain/Loss: ~200’/~200′


Directions: From Highway 1 (PCH) turn north onto Malibu Canyon road. Drive north 6.3 miles (the road name will change to Las Virgenes Rd.) and turn left on Mulholland Highway. Follow Mulholland for 5 miles until you see the park entrance on the left, across from Waring Drive. Park and walk across the bridge to the pedestrian entrance, across from Troutdale Dr. From the 101 freeway, exit at Kanan Rd. in Agoura Hills, turning south. Drive 3 miles to Troutdale Dr. and turn left. After .3 miles, Troutdale will end at Mulholland. Turn left and drive about 100 yards and turn right into the parking entrance. Cross the bridge to the park entrance as noted above.



  1. You know it’s funny whenever I read yourself it just adds to the long list of stuff I’ve got to do if and when I ever get to your area.

  2. Nice pics! A trail I could even do!

  3. I never made it there. The Wife taught Peter Strauss’ kid and we met him a few times at school functions – he’s a real ass but at least he did the right thing with his ranch.

  4. The amphitheatre looks like a nice place for a blanket, a book and a picnic basket.

  5. Very cool! I’ll have to go check that place out. I love the hawk picture, btw.

  6. You go on the best hikes. Your pictures always make me so happy.

  7. Melinda – If you come out, I’ll give you a personal tour.

    Dobegil – Heh. Some people avoid the smaller trails, but I think all trails are equally worthy.

    Homer-Dog – LOL

    Mrs Chuck Bartowski – I should see if they ever do little shows. The stage is in good shape, so I’m guessing yes.

    Mel Heth – Thanks. They posed nicely.

    Dingo – Glad I make you happy. 🙂

  8. Love the pics and all the lovely foliage. I could just go swimming in that crick right now and waste my worries away!!

  9. Omigosh!! I was looking for some good hiking trails in this area and happened across this beauty of a site. I grew up in this area and moved away for 25 years, but I vividly remember climbing that fence to the filled in pool, take off my shirt and would pretend I was swimming. All the while picturing I was keeping cool in the 100+ degree day. My mom would have fits when I would come home covered in dirt and dust all over my clothes, but the memories I have of this will last me forever.
    Thank you Geekhiker for stirring up some precious memories.

  10. […] More photos of the area at Geek Hiker. […]

  11. This looks like a lovely place to spend a few hours. We will be checking it out this weekend! Thanks!!


  13. Have you ever taken the Malibou Lake Connector Trail from Strauss Ranch over to Malibou Lake? The dogs and I did today and I’m not sure we followed it right because we didn’t end up at the lake. But I’d like to try again sometime. It would be helpful if I knew where I was going!

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