Anthony C. Beilenson Visitor Center, located in the King Gillette Ranch just east of Malibu Creek State Park, features a state-of-the-art photovoltaic solar energy system, and is the National Park Service’s first “Net Zero” visitor center—powered entirely by its own energy.
Built entirely of recycled materials, the center was constructed from the existing ranch stables. Inside, visitors learn about the region’s unique Mediterranean ecosystem, rich movie history, and the many recreation opportunities available in the mountains. It’s an interagency effort, meaning that in addition to the National Park Service, all the major players in the mountains are represented, including the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority and California State Parks.
The ranch was once home to safety razor magnate King Camp Gillette and boasts a 1928 Spanish Colonial Revival mansion designed by renowned architect Wallace Neff. Movie director Clarence Brown bought the ranch, followed by the Claretian Order of the Catholic Church, the Church Universal and Triumphant and Soka University.
The 588-acre ranch became public parkland in 2007. Along with a number of buildings, classic and not, the ranch includes a long eucalyptus-lined entry road, a large pond and wide lawns. And then there’s the wild side of the ranch—grasslands, scrub-dotted slopes and woodlands with valley oak and coast live oak.
No doubt a more extensive trail network will emerge at the ranch; meanwhile get started with the short hike to Inspiration Point, a knoll with 360-degree vistas.
From the Ventura Freeway (Highway 101) exit on Las Virgenes Road and drive south three miles to Mulholland Highway. Turn left and almost immediately take a right into the signed King Gillette Ranch. Drive down the long and lovely entrance road to the visitor center on the right.
Walk the landscaped pathway on the south side of the lot back to the entrance road and go right, crossing a bridge over Stokes Creek. Bear right at a road junction and walk over a short causeway over the pond. Stay to right of a building and meet two dirt paths behind it. Continue straight on the rougher, steeper trail. (The more distinct path contours around the knoll and curves west.)
A short but aggressive ascent leads to Inspiration Point and views of the towering rocks above Malibu Gorge and the Gillette Mansion and sprawling ranch. Continue along the trail a short distance to a split. Ridge Trail leads south along the ridge, but you descend eastward on a mellow descent over oak-dotted slopes. Wander around the Gillette Mansion and improvise a route past the pond back to the visitor center.
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