China Flat is within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, administered by the National Park Service. This is a little known plateau above 2,000 ft in the Simi Hills; a veritable garden spot which experienced hikers might know as a midway point on their ascent to Simi Peak.
Local historians recount the unproven tall tale that Chinese were once camped out there quietly because it was so remote and little accessible.Their enterprise was to land immigrants in Santa Monica Bay (clandestinely) and hide them out during the Chinese Exclusion era. Another prospect might have been seasonal mining or, most likely, ranching. China Flat is part of the headwaters of Palo Comando Creek that combines with the Cheeseboro Creek to form Malibu Creek which reaches the Pacific. During very wet wintes, a beautiful pool can be seen in one corner of the Flat. It is known that numbers of Chinese began to drift to Southern California for work following completion of the famed Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, as reflected by the population jump in Los Angeles Chinatown. Still, others remained to work on building projects, ranching, and farming, perhaps doing seasonal mining in the Santa Clara River watershed according to Marmor, following the completion of the San Francisco-Los Angeles Southern Pacific line in 1876.
Whatever the Chinese involvement, lost to history but easy to imagine, the Flat is a meadow spot crisscrossed by hiking trails and fire roads, and one of the most famous treks (1776) is marked by the NPS Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail which passes through China Flat; Camp #73 (Feb. 22, 1776), the previous Anza stop is somewhere in Malibu Creek SP. Those hiking may also come upon Indian petroglyphs in local caves.