Tag Archives: South Bay

Sand Dune Park (Manhattan Beach)


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Looking up from the bottom of the dune

Looking up from the bottom of the dune

Heading back down the stairs into the park

Heading back down the stairs into the park

Sand Dune Park (Manhattan Beach)

  • Location: 33rd St. and Bell Avenue, Manhattan Beach.  From the 405 Freeway, take the Rosecrans Avenue exit and head west for 2.5 miles.  Turn left on Bell Avenue and drive 0.2 miles to the park entrance.  From the 105 Freeway, take the Sepulveda/Highway 1 South exit.  Head south for 2.4 miles, turn right on Rosecrans, go 0.9 miles and turn left on Bell Avenue, and drive 0.2 miles to the park.   To visit Sand Dune Park, you need to make a reservation online and pay a dollar bill (coins not accepted, change from larger bills not given.)
  • Agency: City of Manhattan Beach
  • Distance: 0.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 250 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 45 minutes
  • Best season: Year-round
  • USGS topo map: Venice
  • More information: here; Yelp page here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 2
0:00 - Bottom of the stairs and the sand dune (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

0:00 – Bottom of the stairs and the sand dune (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

Hiking purists may not be impressed with it, but the giant sand dune in Manhattan Beach has to be considered one of So-Cal’s more unusual outdoor recreation spots. According to an L.A. Times article, the dune is not only popular with locals, but has also been visited by a wide range of athletes, including Kobe Bryant and Troy Palomalu. It seems as if climbing what basically amounts to an enormous sandbox should be easy–but it’s tougher than it sounds.

0:01 - Beginning the climb (times are approximate)

0:01 – Beginning the climb (times are approximate)

Rising nearly 100 feet, the dune is the dominant feature of the park. Using it requires making an online reservation (see link above). It may seem like a lot of hoops to jump through for a neighborhood hike, but I made my reservation in less than ten minutes.

0:10 - Top of the sand dune

0:10 – Top of the dune

After paying your $1 fee (dollar bills only) at a table by the base of the dune, you enter through a fence and begin your climb. If you’re not used to walking in sand–especially at a nearly 45 degree angle–expect progress to be slow. Even veterans will feel the burn in their calves by the time they reach the top.

0:20 - Walking up the stairs next to the dune

0:20 – Walking up the stairs next to the dune

At the top of the dune, you get a nice view to the east of residential Manhattan Beach. The descent is fun – while the grade would be very steep for a single-track hiking trail, the sand slows you down, so you don’t have to worry about falling. And even if you fell, it would be on…well, sand.

0:23 - Walkway at the top of the stairs, heading south toward 30th St.

0:23 – Walkway at the top of the stairs, heading south toward 30th St.

At the bottom, you can challenge yourself with multiple “reps” on the dune, or you can explore the rest of the park. A staircase runs parallel to the dune, climbing to the end of 32nd St. Turn left and follow a narrow walkway for a few blocks, re-entering the park at the end of 30th St. Head down a staircase through a pleasantly wooded hillside before meeting with another walkway. Turn left and follow the path back to the staircase, where you descend to the park. If you have time and energy, you can try the sand dune again.

0:25 - Heading back down into the park

0:25 – Heading back down into the park

Text and photography copyright 2013 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

0:30 - Following the walkway back to the stairs

0:30 – Following the walkway back to the stairs

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Blufftop Trail: Palos Verdes Drive West to Paseo del Mar


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Looking north on the Blufftop Trail

Ocean view from the Blufftop Trail

Blufftop Trail: Palos Verdes Drive West to Paseo del Mar 

  • Location:  Palos Verdes Estates, on the corner of Paseo del Mar and Palos Verdes Drive West.  From I-110, take the Pacific Coast Highway exit and head north/west for 5.6 miles.  Turn left onto Calle Mayor, go 1.3 miles and turn right on Palos Verdes Blvd.  Go 0.5 miles and turn right on Palos Verdes Drive West and go 1.8 miles to the intersection with Paseo del Mar.  Park either on Paseo del Mar or in the small lot on the corner.   From the LAX area, follow Pacific Coast Highway/Sepulveda Blvd. south from I-105 for 8 miles, and turn right on Palos Verdes Blvd.  G0 1.4 miles and turn right on Palos Verdes Drive West and go 1.8 miles to the intersection with Paseo del Mar.
  • Agency: City of Palos Verdes Estates
  • Distance: 1.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 150 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 45 minutes
  • Best season: Year-round
  • USGS topo map:  Redondo Beach
  • More information: video of the trail here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 4

The Blufftop Trail is a non-contiguous path that circles the western and southern edges of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, providing great coastal views. The short section described here is similar to the trails at nearby Point Vicente, although it’s dirt, not paved. On clear days, you can see the Santa Monica Mountains in the distance. This part of the trail makes for a nice little excursion, and you can easily extend your trip on the nearby streets or other segments of the trail. The luxury homes that overlook the trail make it hard to forget about all the nearby development, but it’s far enough off the main road so that peace and quiet can be expected.

From the corner of Palos Verdes Drive West and Paseo del Mar, look for a trail heading toward the ocean, dipping down below the road. It follows Paseo Del Mar, briefly rejoining it, and then splitting off again. You walk along the top of the cliffs (there’s no railing, so be careful), taking in some nice views of Bluff Cove and the western peninsula coastline.

At 0.7 miles, shortly before the trail once again joins Paseo del Mar, you come to a small clearing where a tree–its roots exposed by soil erosion–provides some shade while enjoying the panoramic perspective in both directions. This makes a good turnaround point, although you can continue farther south on Paseo del Mar and visit the southern segments of the trail.

Text and photography copyright 2012 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Cabrillo Beach & Pier


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Cabrillo Beach

Waves on the breakwater at Cabrillo Beach

Cabrillo Beach & Pier

  • Location: San Pedro.  From the south end of I-110, take Gaffey Street south for 1.4 miles.  Turn left on 19th St., go 0.3 miles and turn right on Pacific Avenue.  Turn left on Stephen White Drive and head into the park.  Parking is $1 per hour (cash only) with a daily maximum of $9.
  • Agency: City of L.A. Parks & Recreation
  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation gain: Level
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season:  All year
  • USGS topo map: “San Pedro”
  • Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
  • More information: here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 4

Cabrillo Beach Park is one of several popular recreational destinations in San Pedro, along with nearby Point Fermin Park and Angels Gate Park.  The beach also shares the property with the famous Cabrillo Aquarium.  Although this is not necessarily the place to go for peace and quiet (and there’s a good amount of trash and graffiti), Cabrillo Beach offers a wide range of scenery, including Old Saddleback, the San Gabriels, Catalina Island and the characteristic marine geology of the area.

From the parking area, walk along the beach toward the pier. Make your way onto the concrete pier and walk to its end. If the surf is high, you’ll get a great view of the waves crashing over the breakwater on the right.

At the end of the pier, head back, taking in nice views of the Palos Verdes Peninsula on the way. Here, depending on how high the tide is, you can walk back along beach on the opposite (south) side of the pier, with good views of Point Fermin. At the far corner of the beach, you can walk across a footbridge to the southeast side of Point Fermin, where you can sit and enjoy the sights of the ocean and the marine geology. This is a good turnaround point, although with caution in times of low tide you can make your way around the tip of Point Fermin.

To complete the loop, head back across the footbridge and walk back to the parking lot. You can extend the trip a little bit by heading north along the beach.

While Cabrillo Beach is a little bit short to be a major hiking destination, one can easily make a day of visiting the beach, the aquarium and the other parks nearby.  Film buffs might want to visit the nearby Korean Friendship Bell at Angels Gate Park, used in “The Usual Suspects.”

Text and photography copyright 2012 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities.  By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail.  Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Vista Del Norte Trail


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View from the Vista Del Norte Trail

Ascending the Vista Del Norte Trail

Vista Del Norte Trail

  • Location: Rolling Hills Estates, on the corner of Indian Peak Road and Norris Center Drive. From I-405, take the Hawthorne Blvd. exit and drive south for 8.5 miles.  Turn left on Indian Peak Road, go 0.4 miles and park in the lot at the Norris Center, on the right.  From I-110, take the Pacific Coast Highway exit and head north (west) for 3 miles.  Turn left on Crenshaw Blvd., go 3 miles and turn right on Indian Peak.  The parking lot at Norris Center will be on your left, in 0.4 miles.
  • Agency: Palos Verdes Land Conservancy (Vista Del Norte Reserve)
  • Distance: 0.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 250 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 30 minutes
  • Best season: Year-round (any day with clear skies)
  • USGS topo map: San Pedro
  • More information: here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 3

If you like instant gratification, check out the Vista Del Norte, where a short climb gives you some great views of the L.A. Basin.  The Vista Del Norte Reserve is one of the many small parcels of land on the Palos Verdes Peninsula operated by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy.

From the parking area by the Norris Center, head east along the sidewalk on Indian Peak Road.   Almost immediately, turn right and follow the single-track trail leading uphill.  Take a right on the Vista Del Norte Trail, which switchbacks up the side of the hill.  (The Indian Peak Loop Trail, which heads straight, is poorly maintained and hard to follow.)

As you climb, the views get wider and wider.  After a quarter mile, you arrive at a bench, just below the communication towers, where you can sit and enjoy the view.  If you prefer you can continue past the bench to a summit where clear-day vistas include the Santa Monica Mountains, the ocean, the San Gabriels, San Gorgonio and more.

Obviously, this trail is a little bit short to be a major hiking destination, but if you do the route a couple of times, making it nature’s version of a stair climb, it can be a good workout; it’s also near several other trails on the peninsula that are worth visiting.  While the trail never escapes the sights and sounds of civilization nearby, it just goes to show that even in places that seem unlikely, one can still get out into nature.

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Portuguese Bend Reserve: Rim & Grapevine Loop


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Sunset from the Rim Trail

On the Rim Trail

Portuguese Bend Reserve: Rim & Grapevine Loop

  • Location: Palos Verdes Peninsula between Torrance and San Pedro.  From I-110, take the Anaheim St. exit, head west for about 3/4 of a mile to the five-way intersection and bare left on Palos Verdes Drive North.  Go 3.6 miles and take a left on Crenshaw, and follow it to its end (about 2 miles).  Park on the side of the road at Del Cerro Park.  Alternatively, access Crenshaw Blvd. either from I-405 or Pacific Coast Highway and head south to Del Cerro.
  • Agency: Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy/Portuguese Bend Reserve
  • Distance: 2.5 miles (semi-loop)
  • Elevation gain: 600 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Best season: Year round
  • USGS topo maps: Torrance, San Pedro
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 6
This short loop visits the lightly traveled northeastern corner of the Portuguese Bend Reserve.  Best known for its scenic overlook, the Reserve has a wide variety of trails, and this route combines several of them for a brief but aerobic hike.From the end of Crenshaw, follow the Burma Road Trail downhill, as if you were going to the overlook. When you get to the five-way split at the bottom of the hill by the water tank, take the far left fork, the Fire Station Trail, which heads back uphill.

After a quarter mile, you enter the boundary of the reserve and briefly cross into Rolling Hills Estates. Ignore the trail branching off to the left and stay right, on the Rim Trail. This trail lives up to its name, as it carefully navigates the rim of the big canyon below. Here, you get great views of the ocean.

Stay right again at another trail junction, and soon you arrive at the Grapevine Trail, your return route. Bear left and begin a steep descent, arriving at the Ishibashi Trail, 1.2 miles from the start.

Here you have several choices. You can head left on the Ishibashi Trail and explore the lower area of the reserve. You can head right and follow the Ishibashi Trail back to Burma Road. This route, however, head right on the Ishibashi Trail very briefly and then heads right on the Grapevine Trail. The Grapevine Trail heads uphill steeply, making a few switchbacks, rejoining the Rim Trail in half a mile and completing the loop. From here, you head left on the Rim Trail and retrace your steps to the Fire Station Trail, Burma Road and back to Del Cerro Park.

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Linden H. Chandler Preserve


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Woodlands in the Linden Chandler Preserve

Linden H. Chandler Preserve

  • Location: Palos Verdes Peninsula.  From Los Angeles and points north, take I-110 south to Pacific Coast Highway.  Turn right and go 1.5 miles to Western.  Turn left and go 0.8 miles to the five-way intersection and take a right on Palos Verdes Drive North.  Go 1.3 miles and turn right on Dapplegray.  Take a quick left on Bucksin, follow it to its end and park by the fence.  From the Vincent Thomas Bridge, stay straight to get onto Summerland St.  In a mile, turn right on Western.  Go 2.1 miles and turn left on Palos Verdes Drive North.
  • Agency: Linden Chandler Preserve/Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy
  • Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 300 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 30 minutes
  • Best season: Year-round
  • USGS topo map: San Pedro Hills
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 3

Tucked between the Rolling Hills Country Club and Palos Verdes Drive North, the 28-acre Linden Chandler Preserve provides a nice quiet getaway with a good variety of scenery. Hikers can do the short loop described here, or easily extend their trip on a number of bridle trails that radiate outward from the preserve.

From the end of Buckskin Lane, follow the path into the park. From this vantage point, your clear day views include the Los Angeles basin and the San Gabriel Mountains. Take a hard right on a path that heads downhill, and almost immediately, take a left and make a small loop around the end of the golf course. At a T-junction, head right and downhill. You can take a somewhat rough single-track trail that branches off (be careful), or stay on the fire road. At the bottom, head right and into a pleasantly shaded area. This is an example of the riparian habitat the preserve was formed to protect. You climb out of the wetlands and soon reach another junction with the signed Dale’s Trail.

Head left (you can extend the trip by going right, downhill and into a short loop) and soon arrive at the Empty Saddle trailhead. Head left onto the Howard Trail (again you can extend things on the bridle trail that heads straight from here, leaving the preserve.) A steep descent brings you to another trailhead and a dirt road. Head left, past the baseball field and continue through some more woodlands. Stay straight and begin a steep climb back up to the trailhead at the end of Buckskin. You can extend the route on the Dapplegray Trail, which continues east, making a few ups and downs before ending at Palos Verdes Drive East.

In case you were wondering, Linden Chandler (1900-1995) was a concrete and gravel magnate who lived in the area.

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Abalone Cove


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Sea Dahlia trail at Abalone Cove

Cascade on the shore at Abalone Cove

Abalone Cove

  • Location: 5970 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.  From From I-110 in San Pedro, take a left on to Gaffey St., and a quick right onto 1st St.  Go a mile and take a left onto Western Ave.  Go 1.7 miles and take a right onto 25th St.  Go a total of 4.5 miles (25th St becomes Palos Verdes Drive South).  Make a U-turn at Sea Cove Drive and turn right into the park.  Parking is $5 per car.
  • Agency: Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy
  • Distance: 1.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 300 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season:  All year (12-4pm on weekdays; 9am-4pm on weekends; closed New Years’ Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas)
  • USGS topo map: “San Pedro”
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles
  • More information: here; trail map here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 6

Secluded Abalone Cove has some of the Palos Verdes Peninsula’s more rugged, remote scenery.  The parking fee and limited hours, while perhaps a turn-off for some, also keep the crowds slim.

There are a wide variety of trails in the park. The double loop described here samples some of them, creating a short but surprisingly challenging hike with some steep climbs and very sharp drop-offs. Families with young kids will want to be careful.

From the parking area, head east on the Chapel View Trail. Across Palos Verdes Drive South, look for the Wayfarer’s Chapel poking up above the trees. The trial dips downhill to join the Beach School Trail, a paved road. Head down to a T-junction and turn right on the Sea Dahlia trail. A short but steep descent brings you to a canyon. Head right, toward the mouth of the canyon to arrive at the rocky beach.

Head left, making your way over the rocks, toward the huge bluff, passing by a small waterfall.  Just before you arrive at it, head uphill on a paved road, the Olmstead Trail (an option if you want to extend the hike by exploring the far southeastern end of the park). This route uses the other end of the Sea Dahlia trail heads off to the left–steeply uphill, right next to the edge of the cliff. Climb this and begin a panoramic, although somewhat nerve-wracking, walk along the side of the bluffs. (If you have to ask if there is a railing of any kind here, perhaps you might want to bypass this portion of the hike.)

The Sea Dahlia trail eventually descends on a short but steep knife-edge, back into the canyon, and you return to the beach. This time, continue to the right and pick up the Beach School Trail, by the lighthouse. Head back east briefly before picking up the Abalone Cove Trail on the left. It ascends steeply through some brush before arriving back to the bluff top. Access the Via de Campo trail, which has some nice ocean views. It circles around the picnic areas and arrives back at the parking lot.

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities.  By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail.  Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Portuguese Bend Reserve Vista Point from Forrestal


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View from the Panorama Trail

View from the Peppertree Trail, Portuguese Bend Reserve

Portuguese Bend Reserve Vista Point from Forrestal

  • Location: Rancho Palos Verdes.  From From I-110 in San Pedro, take a left on to Gaffey St., and a quick right onto 1st St.  Go a mile and take a left onto Western Ave.  Go 1.7 miles and take a right onto 25th St.  Go a total of 2.2 miles on 25th, which will become Palos Verdes Drive South, and take a right onto Forrestal.  If the gate is open, drive a quarter mile to the end of the street and begin on the Purple Sage trail.  If the gate is closed, park below it and walk to the end of the street, adding half a mile round trip.
  • Agency: Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (Portuguese Bend Reserve and Forrestal Reserve)
  • Distance: 4.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, steepness, trail condition)
  • Suggested time: 2 hours
  • Best season:  All year
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
  • USGS topo map: “San Pedro”
  • More information:  here; write up of a similar route here
  • Rating: 6

There’s an easy way and a hard way to enjoy the panoramic views from the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  The popular vista point can be reached from above with a short hike from Del Cerro Park, as described here.  But hikers looking for a little bit more of a challenge might want to try approaching it from below, staring at the Forrestal Reserve.  The lower region of the Portuguese Bend Reserve has a wide variety of trails, and the loop described here uses fourteen–count ‘em, fourteen–of them.  Of course, one doesn’t have to follow it exactly, but the trails that make this loop make for one of the more vigorous, and scenic, hikes on the peninsula.  While the flowers in the spring are particularly beautiful here, this hike’s coastal locale makes it a good option for any time of year.  Keep in mind however that there is virtually no shade on the trail, so plan accordingly, especially during the summer.

To get to the Portuguese Bend Reserve from Forrestal, take the Purple Sage trail (1) to the Conqueror Trail (2), which descends steeply into Klondike Canyon. Once you cross the bottom of the canyon, you are in the Portuguese Bend Reserve. Take a hard right on the Klondike Canyon Trail (3), which makes a steep ascent – the first of several you will encounter on this route. Turn left on the Barn Owl trail (4), which quickly becomes the Panorama Trail (5). This route earns its name with nice views of the ocean, the bluffs and the canyon. It descends slightly to a junction with your return route, the short but uber-steep Sandbox Trail. Stay straight and hook up with the Burma Road Trail (6), the main artery through the reserve.

Head left on Burma, and in about 0.3 miles, turn right on the Ishabashi Trail (7). This trail climbs steeply for a little while before mellowing out. Ignore two false trails that lead to the left and stay on the Ishabashi Trail, which eventually reconnects with Burma at a four-way junction. Take a left on the Burma Trail, which takes in great views of the ocean as it heads toward the vista point.

A short climb on the Eagle Nest trail (8) takes you to the pine-shaded vista point, where you can relax and enjoy some great views before heading down. Continue past the vista point on the Eagle Nest trail, which switchbacks down the side of the hill to reconnect with Burma. Head right for a few yards on Burma and pick up the Vanderlip Trail (9), which heads downhill, past some cliffs. Head left on the Kubota Trail (10), which soon meets a steep fire road, the Water Tank Trail (11).  Head downhill for a brief stretch, and just before reaching the titular water tank, head left on the Garden Trail (12), one of the more interesting sections of the hike. The Garden Trail dips into a wooded area, and follows precariously close to the edge of a cliff before coming to a three-way split. Take a hard right on the Pepper Tree trail (13) and head downhill. At the bottom of the hill, take a left on the last trail of the loop, the steep Sandbox Trail (14). Washed out and loose in some places, the Sandbox climbs over 200 feet in less than a quarter mile. Once you reach the Panorama Trail, head right and retrace your steps to the Forrestal Reserve.

The loop is outlined on the map below, which can also be used to pick alternative routes, in case you’re worried about your head spinning from all the different trail names.  While the route might sound like a navigational nightmare, most of the trails are well signed and easy to follow, and no matter what your exact path is, you’re sure to enjoy the ocean, geology and botanical scenery here.

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities.  By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail.  Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Hernandez Ranch (Peck Park)


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View of the Long Beach ports from Hernandez Ranch


Woodlands in Hernandez Ranch


Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Hernandez Ranch (Peck Park)

  • Location: San Pedro, on the corner of Upland Ave. and Dunn St.  From the end of I-110, take a right on Gaffey and an immediate left on Summerland Ave. Go half a mile and turn right on Leland Ave.  Go 0.2 miles and turn right on Upland.  Park on the corner of Upland and Dunn.
  • Agency: City of Los Angeles department of parks and recreation (Peck Park)
  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 150 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested  time: 30 minutes
  • Best season: Year-round
  • USGS topo map: San Pedro
  • More information: Peck Park site here; article about the reopening of Hernandez Ranch here
  • Rating: 3
Hernandez Ranch is a recently re-opened part of Peck Park in San Pedro, the main part of which is currently undergoing restoration.  The trails of Hernandez Ranch, including the short loop described here, are a pleasant surprise in an area not known for having much open outdoor space.  Hikers looking for a true wilderness experience will want to keep on looking, but for many, Hernandez Ranch is an enjoyable introduction to the outdoors and proof that many great trails in L.A. are right under our noses.

From the trailhead at the corner of Dunn and Upland, head left (the right trail, an option if you want to extend your trip, dips down into the canyon and comes out on the other end of Upland.) The trail follows the side of the neighborhood, providing nice views of the Long Beach port.

Soon you come to a split. Head downhill (right), cross the bridge and head left. The trail now becomes pleasantly secluded and quiet, especially considering the houses nearby. A short climb brings you to another bridge. You can extend the hike into Peck Park by walking on either side of the canyon, but to complete this loop, cross the bridge and turn left. You leave the wooded area and climb some more, taking in a nice aerial view of the ranch. Soon you reach the split, where you retrace your steps to the trail head.

West Bluff & West Portal Loop (Ocean Trails Ecological Reserve)


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Aerial view from the West Portal Trail

Ocean view from the West Portal Trail

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

West Bluff & West Portal Loop (Ocean Trails Ecological Reserve)

  • Location: On the south side of Palos Verdes Drive South, near the Trump golf course.  From the end of the I-110 freeway in San Pedro, take Summerland Ave. for a mile and turn left on Western.  Go 2 miles and turn right on 25th St.  Drive a total of 2.2 miles (25th becomes Palos Verdes Drive South) and turn left into the parking lot on the corner of Conqueror Drive.
  • Agency: Palos Verdes Land Conservancy (Ocean Trails Ecological Reserve)
  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 100 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 30 minutes
  • Best season: Year-round
  • USGS topo map: San Pedro
  • More information: here (scroll down to “Ocean Trails Ecological Reserve”)
  • Rating: 3
This short loop is an enjoyable and easy way to beat the heat.  It provides nice aerial views of the ocean and the trademark geology of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  It can also be combined with other hikes in the area.

Start by heading west on the dirt road leading from the parking lot.  The beginning of the trip, which parallels Palos Verdes Drive South on one side and the golf course driving range on the other, may not seem that promising, but once you take a left and access the West Portal trail, you get some nice peace and quiet.  The trail heads down past a small overlook with benches and goes right up against the edge of the bluffs.   You get a nice view down into the canyons, and can see the cliffs of Abalone Cove to the right.

After a short distance, the trail heads back uphill through a somewhat overgrown brush and then draws up along the golf course.  Head left at the next junction and follow a dirt road back to the beginning of the loop, and then retrace your steps along Palos Verdes Drive South.

Barn Own Trail via Flying Mane Trail


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No, not Anacapa: Flowers and ocean views from the Flying Mane Trail

View from the Barn Owl Trail

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Barn Own Trail via Flying Mane Trail

  • Location: Rancho Palos Verdes.  From From I-110 in San Pedro, take a left on to Gaffey St., and a quick right onto 1st St.  Go a mile and take a left onto Western Ave.  Go 1.7 miles and take a right onto 25th St.  Go a total of 2.2 miles on 25th, which will become Palos Verdes Drive South, and take a right onto Forrestal.  Park below the yellow gate, which may or may not be closed, and enter the reserve.
  • Agency: Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy
  • Distance: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 850 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
  • Best season:  October – June
  • USGS topo map: “San Pedro”
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles
  • More information: Forrestal reserve map here; Portuguese Bend reserve map here
  • Rating: 6

This trip explores the Forrestal Reserve and Portuguese Bend Reserve, two of the areas that comprise the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve.  There are many possible trips you can take on the trails in this area, all of which have dramatic ocean and hillside views; the route here can easily be changed, but as described, it’s a good workout in a short amount of time, and takes in the best of the scenery.  There are a lot of different trails to keep track of, but the signage is pretty good and with a map, navigation shouldn’t be too much trouble.

From Forrestal Drive, begin your climb on the Quarry Trail (stay left at the first junction, with th Pirate Trail).  Take another left at your next junction to get to the Flying Mane trail, which provides some wide-ranging views and a bird’s eye perspective on the athletic fields below.  After some more climbing, you reach a vista point where you get a nice view down into Klondike Canyon.  Head left and descend some switchbacks, soon arriving at another junction.  Take a right onto the Canyon Trail (which is quite overgrown, has some steep and hard to see steps, and should probably be bypassed) and then almost immediately bear left on the Red Tail Trail, which climbs and joins the Vista Trail.  (Confused?  The maps help, and it really does make sense when you see it in person).

The Vista Trail meets up with the Dauntless Trail, which heads downhill to join a fire road, the Conquerer Trail.  If you’re ready to call it a day by this point, you can close the loop by heading left on the Conquerer Trail, uphill, and returning via the Purple Sage trail and the paved Intrepid Drive and Forrestal Drive.  However, given time and energy, a short but steep climb up the Barn Owl trail will give you some more great ocean views.  To get there, head right on the Conquerer Trail; this goes downhill, crosses Klondike Canyon and enters the Portuguese Bend Nature Reserve.  Take a sharp right on the Klondike Trail, climb a little and head left on the Barn Owl Trail.  This trail curves around and soon makes a short but very steep ascent to a vista point.  On the way, it crosses the Klondike Trail again before finally meeting the Burma Road Trail, which ultimately goes all the way to Del Cerro Park.

At this junction, you can enjoy the fruits of your labors with great ocean and canyon views. When you’re ready you can return via the Barn Owl Trail (you can take a detour by going left on the Klondike Trail at the first junction) and the Conquerer Trail, which will take you back to the Forrestal Reserve. A short climb brings you to the Purple Sage Trail, and you return via paved roads. On Forrestal Drive, you get a good up-close look at the cliffs and their geology. Just remember not to climb on the fence.

Hilltop from Ernie Howlett Park


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View from the hilltop near Howlett Park

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Hilltop from Ernie Howlett Park

  • Location: Ernie Howlett Park in Rolling Hills Estates, 25851 Hawthorne Blvd.   From I-110, take Pacific Coast Highway west for 3 miles and turn left on Crenshaw Blvd.  Go 0.5 miles and turn right on Rolling Hills Road.  Go 0.7 miles and turn left on Hawthorne, and the park is on your right.  From I-405, take Hawthorne Blvd. south for 6.6 miles.
  • Agency: City of Rolling Hills Estates
  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Elevation gain: 200 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season: Year round
  • USGS topo map: Torrance
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 3

Popular Ernie Howlett Park not only features baseball and tennis facilities, but it serves as a trail head for a number of bridle paths.  The short trip to a knoll known as the hill top provides some of the most panoramic views on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

From the parking lot, take the short Batting Cages Trail and take a right on the Howlett Trail.  Head downhill and at the bottom, head right (left leads to private property).  You make a brief climb and then come to a four-way split.  Head left through a chain link fence into a meadow, and then head right along a path that parallels the fence.  This trail makes a curving ascent and arrives at the hilltop, where you can see the ocean, the Santa Monica and San Gabriel mountains, and downtown L.A.

Beyond this point, the trail meets up with Via Pinzon, a residential street that serves as an alternate trailhead.  You can also access the Torrance Utility Fire Road, or extend your hike on the other end of the Howlett Trail, which crosses under Hawthorne Blvd. and meets up with the longer Palos Verdes Loop.  Whichever trails you decide to visit, the views from the hilltop are some of the best in the area.

Paseo Del Sol Fire Road to Via Campesina (Palos Verdes Estates)


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Santa Monica Bay from the Paseo Del Sol fire road

Willow tree near the Palos Verdes golf course

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Paseo Del Sol Fire Road to Via Campesina

  • Location: End of the Paseo Del Sol fire road in Palos Verdes Estates.  From I-405, take the Hawthorne Blvd. exit and head south for 7 miles.  Take a right on Palos Verdes Drive North, go 0.4 miles and turn left on Silver Spur.  Go 0.7 miles and turn right on Montemalaga Drive.  Go a mile (Montemalaga becomes Granvia Altimara) and turn right on Via Del Monte.  Go 0.7 miles and take a hard right onto Paseo Del Sol.  Park at the end of the road (left side of the street only) and pick up the trail at the dead end.  From I-110, take the Pacific Coast Highway exit, go west for 3.1 miles and turn left on Crenshaw.  Go 1.3 miles and turn right on Palos Verdes Drive North, and drive 0.9 miles to Silver Spur.
  • Agency: City of Palos Verdes Estates
  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 400 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season: Year-round
  • USGS topo map: Redondo Beach
  • More information: Outdoor Guide to the Palos Verdes Peninsula
  • Rating: 5

This is an interesting hike that offers both great ocean views and a short but rugged stretch through a secluded canyon.  The destination is a huge willow tree that makes a perfect spot for a picnic, although the trail does continue around the edge of the Palos Verdes Golf Course, so it’s easy to make a longer hike out of it.

From the end of Paseo Del Sol, pass the gate and follow a concrete path.  The trail is similar to the Aliso Summit Trail in south Orange County in that it is not much of a wilderness route, but it offers great ocean and mountain views.  On clear days, you can see both the Santa Monica and San Gabriel ranges, and everything in between from this road.

After 3/4 of a mile, the paved trail ends at Via Campenisa.  Look for a single-track that branches off to the left, heading under a bridge.  The trail is rough in places, but easy to follow.  Some of the terrain may be a little tricky, especially following rains, so be careful.  In about a quarter of a mile, you arrive at a clearing where you can sit on a the ground-level branches of an enormous willow tree.

This makes a nice turn-around spot, as you have already taken in the most interesting scenery and best views, but if you want to continue, the trail leaves the canyon, crosses two footbridges and climbs a hill.  From here, you can take a left and follow the trail to the end of Via Tejon near Palos Verdes Estates, or go uphill, take a right and end up at the golf course.

Canada Trails Loop (Miraleste Canyon)


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Footbridge in Miraleste Canyon

View from Palos Verdes Drive East

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Canada Trails Loop (Miraleste Canyon)

  • Location: Miraleste neighborhood of Rancho Palos Verdes.  From the south end of I-110 in San Pedro, take a left on Gaffey St. and go 0.7 miles. Turn right on 9th St. and follow it for a total of 2.7 miles (it becomes Miraleste Drive along the way).  Park on the right side of Miraleste, just before the bus station and the intersection with Palos Verdes Drive East.
  • Agency: City of Rancho Palos Verdes
  • Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 200 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season:  Year round
  • USGS topo map: “San Pedro Hill”
  • More information: video here
  • Rating: 4

This trail on the east side of the Palos Verdes Peninsula offers an enjoyable little stroll similar to the two other trails nearby on Palos Verdes Drive East: the Frascati and Siena Trails.  This one is quiet, clean, and features a nice stretch alongside a seasonal brook.

From the bus stop on Miraleste Drive, head away from the road and pick up the Canada (also known as Miraleste Canyon) trail heading downhill.  You descend into a quiet, shady canyon, dry at first, but soon a seasonal stream starts flowing.

At half a mile, head downhill to the left as another trail forks off to the right, and you soon come to red footbridge crossing the canyon.  On the other side, head left and begin your ascent.  After some moderate climbing, you make a couple of switchbacks, walk between two houses and arrive at Via Canada.  Take a left, and then a quick left on Palos Verdes Drive East, and walk a few minutes back to the bus stop and Miraleste Drive.  There’s a sidewalk and you’re facing traffic, so if you’re careful you shouldn’t have any problems.

If you are interested, this coming Saturday (3/5/11), the Angeles chapter of the Sierra Club will be doing a group hike here. Click this link for more information.

Upper Filiorum Preserve


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Sunset at the Upper Filiorum Reserve

Rolling hills and greenery in the Upper Filiorum Reserve

Upper Filiorum Preserve

    • Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, off Pacifica Drive.  From I-110, take the Pacific Coast Highway exit.  Head west (right if you’re coming from the north, left if from the south) and go 3 miles.  Take a left on Crenshaw, drive 3.4 miles and take a right on Crest.  Go 0.7 miles, take a left on Highridge, and a quick right on Ocean Terrace.  Take a left on Pacifica, and look for the trail leading between the first two houses on the left side of the street.
    • Agency: Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy/Upper Filiorum Reserve
    • Distance: 4 miles
    • Elevation gain: 1,050 feet
    • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Trail condition, steepness, elevation gain)
    • Suggested time: 2 hours
    • Best season:  Year round
    • USGS topo map: San Pedro Hills
    • Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles
    • More information: here; Everytrail report here
    • Rating: 7

The 191-acre Upper Filiorum Reserve is the newest property overseen by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy. Located between the popular Portuguese Bend Reserve and the smaller Three Sisters, the Upper Filorium features deep canyons, steep hills and great ocean views. There are a variety of trails that go through the park, so many routes are possible. The trip described here crosses the preserve and also visits Portuguese Bend. The steep ascents and descents make it one of the most challenging–and scenic–hikes on the Peninsula. The description may make it sound complicated, but it’s actually fairly intuitive, especially if you have a map, and remember that it doesn’t have to be followed exactly to be enjoyable. Two caveats: the hike ends with a big (almost 400 feet) climb, so make sure you save your energy, especially if the day is hot, and also keep an eye out for snakes, especially during the warm season. On a recent trip here, the author encountered two different snakes, the second of which was in the process of trying to swallow a small lizard.

From Pacifica, follow the path between the two houses to the McBride Trail.  Head right and almost immediately turn left and make a long, curving descent, during which you’ll get some great ocean views. At the bottom of the hill, bear right and head toward a knoll known as Jack’s Hat.   Head right again, then left to climb the hill, from which you can enjoy some more views.  Head downhill on a steep, loose fire break, and turn left at an intersection and make your way back to the main trail.  This area is overgrown, so as you’re going through, watch your feet–the Palos Verdes Peninsula is known for its snakes (did I mention that there were snakes?)

When you complete the loop, continue east along the main trail.  You’ll cut through three different canyons, and then you arrive at a split.  The left trail is your return route; head right toward the ocean.  The trail reaches the south edge of the preserve and heads east.  Stay straight as you come to a four-way intersection, go in and out of one more canyon, and then make a climb to reach Burma Road and the Portuguese Bend Reserve.

Here, head left and go uphill for a quarter mile to the Peacock Flats Trail. Take it across the field where it reaches Burma Road again at a small clearing, where there’s a portable restroom. Head uphill (left) on the Burma Road Trail, taking in nice ocean views on one side and getting up close to the Peninsula’s characteristic geology on the other.

At the top of the hill, follow Crenshaw Blvd. past Del Cerro Park, and look for a trail branching off to the left. You head downhill, go through the fence, and access the Rattlesnake Trail. A steep descent brings you back to the Upper Filiorum Preserve, where you’ll head right at the next junction and complete the loop. Retrace your steps back to Pacifica Drive.

Text and photography copyright 2012 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

McBride Trail


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Flowers and ocean view from the McBride Trail

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

McBride Trail

  • Location: End of Ocean Terrace Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes.  From the I-110 freeway, take the Pacific Coast Highway exit and head west for 3 miles.  Take a left on Crenshaw Blvd. and go 3.4 miles to Crest Road.  Turn right and go 0.7 miles to Highridge.  Take a left, and then a quick right on Ocean Terrace.  Drive to the end of the street and pick up the trail, heading off behind the last house (#6270).
  • Agency: Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy/Upper Filiorum Reserve
  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 250 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season:  All year
  • More information: here; Upper Filiorum Reserve trail map here
  • Rating: 4

This enjoyable hike takes in some great ocean views, also providing an aerial perspective of the cliffs and hills of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  The trail runs along the back side of some houses, so it’s not the place to go for a wilderness experience, but it’s nice and quiet, receives relatively little foot traffic, and makes for a convenient, quick escape into nature.

From the trailhead at the end of Ocean Terrace Drive, follow the trail into the Three Sisters Reserve, and stay left at the first junction.  The McBride Trail enters the Upper Filiorum Nature Reserve, one of the Palos Verdes Land Conservancy’s newest acquisitions.  After a steep stretch, the trail levels out and continues for a mile before reaching Crest Road.  Here, you can either retrace your steps or make the hike into a loop by taking a left on Crest, a left on Highridge and a right on Ocean Terrace.

Siena Loop Trail


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On the Siena Loop Trail

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Siena Loop Trail

  • Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, in the Miraleste neighborhood.  From the end of the Vincent Thomas Bridge, and stay straight to go onto Summerland Avenue.  Take Summerland for a mile and turn left on Western.  Go 0.3 miles and turn right on first.  Go 0.6 miles and turn right on Miraleste Drive.  Go 0.8 miles and turn left on Palos Verdes Drive East.  Take the second left (one past Miraleste Plaza) and park by the sign for the Siena Loop trail.  From the end of I-110, take a left on Gaffey St.  Go 0.7 miles and takea  right on 9th St.  Go a total of 2.7 miles (9th becomes Miraleste Drive) and take a left on Palos Verdes Drive East, and take the second left into the parking area.
  • Agency:  City of Rancho Palos Verdes
  • Distance: 0.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 200 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 30 minutes
  • Best season: Year-round
  • USGS topo maps: “San Pedro Hills”
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 2

This short, enjoyable loop visits one of the canyons on the east side of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  Unfortunately, it never really escapes the noise of the traffic on Palos Verdes Drive East, and there’s some trash and graffiti, but it still makes a nice little trip into nature if you’re pressed for time.

From the parking area, descend past the sign for the Siena Loop.  At the junction, make a hard right and continue to climb down into the canyon.  After a short distance, it reaches a paved road (Via Paloma).  Head straight and take a quick left on Via Colinita.  The loop trail continues on your left (if you want to extend your hike, you can take a right on the Colinita Trail, which heads through a small canyon before climbing to Palos Verdes Drive East.)

The last leg of the Siena Loop is the most enjoyable, as you climb back out of the canyon through the green hills.  The ascent is steep in places, but short enough that almost anyone should be able to do it without trouble.  After a few minutes you arrive back at the parking area.

Rolling Hills Loop


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Heading up to Caballero St on the Willow Springs Trail

Picnic table at Saffo's Rest

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Rolling Hills Loop

  • Location: Rancho Palos Verdes.  From Los Angeles, take I-110 to Pacific Coast Highway.  Head right on P.C.H. and in a 0.5 miles, go left on Vermont.  Go 0.7 miles and turn right on Palos Verdes Drive North.  In 1.8 miles, turn left on Palos Verdes Drive East (make sure you get into the turn lane).  in 1.7 miles, turn right on Bronco Drive and park on the street at Martingale Trail Head Park, on the right side of the road at 0.3 miles.  From Long Beach, take the Vincent Thomas Bridge and stay straight to go onto Summerland Ave.  Go a mile and turn left on Western.  Go 0.9 miles and turn right on 9th St., which becomes Miraleste.  Go 1.3 miles and turn right on Palos Verdes Drive East.  In 1.3 miles, turn left on Bronco Drive.
  • Agency:  City of Rolling Hills Estates
  • Distance: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Steepness, trail condition)
  • Suggested time: 2 hours
  • Best season: October – May
  • USGS topo maps: “San Pedro Hills”
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 6

This loop is an extended, more challenging version of the 2.3 mile Martingale Loop.  With views that include San Gorgonio, Mt. Baldy, downtown L.A. and the Santa Monica Mountains, and with visits to several secluded canyons, this is one of the most scenically interesting hikes on the Peninsula.  While hard-core hikers may be put off by this trip’s proximity to civilization, and that it includes a stretch on a paved road, it’s certainly well worth a visit if you’re in the area.  It covers a lot of ground outside the Martingale Loop, so even if you’ve already done that trail, don’t pass this one up.

As with the Martingale Loop, make the steep descent to the canyon.  Take a left on the trail at the bottom, onto the Willow Springs trail.  Follow it to Chuckwagon (as in the Martingale Loop), and cross the street and pick up another trail (East Bluff) heading uphill.  Soon, take a right where the East Bluff Trail continues straight ahead.  Make a short but steep climb to arrive at Caballero, another paved road.  Here, you get great views of downtown L.A. and the San Gabriels.

Across Caballero, enter the Purple Canyon trail, which heads downhill, and soon take a hard left on a trail signed, Saffo’s Rest.  Another steep climb brings you to a quiet, shaded picnic area, where through the trees you get another nice mountain view.  There’s a picnic table, but be careful of the ditch next to it (it may be obscured in the high grass).

Past the picnic area, you cross Georgeff Road, and start on the Fuld’s Furlong trail, which descends, taking nice urban and mountain views.  Soon, a sign will indicate a left turn to stay on the trail.  This part of the trail is a little overgrown, but if you find yourself climbing again, you’re on the right route.  After a short, steep stretch, the grade levels out and arrives at Portuguese Bend Road.  Cross the street and take a right, along the shoulder.

After about half a mile, head right on Poppy Trail, and immediately bear left onto the Hesse Gap trail.  This trail switchbacks back down into the canyon (bear right, and bypass the first hairpin turn).  At the bottom, take a left at a sign that reads “California Sagebrush” and continue, heading back to complete the loop.  Look for the original trail leading to the Martingale park; it can be easy to miss.  If you find yourself back on the bridle trail, you’ve come too far.  Head left on the trail, cross the creek and retrace your steps to the street.

Don’t worry if the route sounds convoluted; it’s pretty easy to follow, especially if you’re near the area.  The link provided also has some good information.

Horseshoe Trail (Rolling Hills Estates)


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On the Horseshoe Trail

Sunset from the Horseshoe Trail

Horseshoe Trail
  • Location: Rolling Hills Estates, starting at Highridge Park.  From I-110, take the Pacific Coast Highway exit.  Head west (right) for 3 miles, and turn left on Crenshaw Blvd.  Go 3.1 miles and turn right on Crestridge Road.  In 0.5 miles, turn left on Highridge Rd. and park on the right side of the street by Highridge Park.  From the Vincent Thomas Bridge, take a right on N. Gaffey St.  Go 2.5 miles and take a hard left on Palos Verdes Drive North.    Go 3.6 miles and turn left on Crenshaw.  Go 1.8 miles to Crestridge.
  • Agency: City of Rolling Hills Estates
  • Distance: 1.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 100 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 45 minutes
  • Best season: Year-round
  • USGS topo maps: “San Pedro Hills”
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 1

This is a neighborhood bridle trail that winds through the streets of Rolling Hills Estates.  While it never escapes civilization, it does visit some secluded residential areas, and you’re likely to have more peace and quiet here than you will on a typical weekend at Griffith Park or Chantry Flats.

From Highridge Park, follow the Highridge Trail past the playing fields, to a T-junction with the Horseshoe Trail.  Head left, following the Horseshoe Trail behind some residences, soon arriving at Country Lane.  You cross Country Lane and continue along the Horseshoe Trail, past some stables (stay right to remain on the trail and avoid the private property).  Here, you enter the most enjoyable stretch of the loop, where you get some nice ocean views.  (If you can, try to time it so you can see the sunset here).

The trail again meets up with Country Lane and continues on the other side (slightly to the left; look for the sign indicating the Horseshoe Trail.)  There’s one more street crossing, Horseshoe Lane.  Soon after, you come to another T-junction.  Head right (left dead-ends), to return to the Highridge Trail.  Take a left and retrace your steps to the park.

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Martingale Loop (Rancho Palos Verdes)


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Bridle trail descending from the Martingale Trail Head

On the Willow Springs Trail

Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Martingale Loop

  • Location: Rancho Palos Verdes.  From Los Angeles, take I-110 to Pacific Coast Highway.  Head right on P.C.H. and in a 0.5 miles, go left on Vermont.  Go 0.7 miles and turn right on Palos Verdes Drive North.  In 1.8 miles, turn left on Palos Verdes Drive East (make sure you get into the turn lane).  in 1.7 miles, turn right on Bronco Drive and park on the street at Martingale Trail Head Park, on the right side of the road at 0.3 miles.  From Long Beach, take the Vincent Thomas Bridge and stay straight to go onto Summerland Ave.  Go a mile and turn left on Western.  Go 0.9 miles and turn right on 9th St., which becomes Miraleste.  Go 1.3 miles and turn right on Palos Verdes Drive East.  In 1.3 miles, turn left on Bronco Drive.
  • Agency:  City of Rolling Hills Estates
  • Distance: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 700 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1 hour
  • Best season: Year round
  • USGS topo maps: “San Pedro Hills”
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles
  • More information: here
  • Rating: 6

Most hikers know the Palos Verdes Peninsula for its great ocean views and interesting marine geology, but there are also quite a few inland trails as well.  The loop described here visits some secluded canyons that could easily pass for some of the more remote areas of the Santa Monica Mountains.  The trail signage in this area can be a little confusing, but this route is actually pretty easy to follow.

The Martingale Trailhead Park isn’t really a park, per se, but it serves as the only public access point for the trails in the private community of Rolling Hills Estates.  From the sign, you descend on a steep trail which soon becomes a bridle path, passing around the back sides of some homes.  Be careful on the descent – not only is it steep, but the trail is prone to erosion following rainy periods.  I was stepping over (not around, over) cacti.

At the bottom of the hill, you cross a stream and come to a T-junction.  Take a right (the left fork is your return route).  You head north, slightly downhill into a canyon.  Off to your right, you will soon notice a small path leading to the stream, where some careful rock scrambling will bring you to a hidden, 5-foot waterfall.

Shortly after this, you’ll see some benches, and then look for a split at a post labeled “California sagebrush.”  Take a hard right and begin switchbacking up a hill.  Soon, you arrive at the paved Poppy Trail.  Take a right and head downhill.  Where the road bends sharply to the left, look for the Sleepy Hollow trail, which takes you back into nature.  The trail ascends to a junction, where you take a left onto the Bowie Trail.  This trail continues its ascent before reaching paved Bowie Road.  Take a right and then a quick left on Chuckwagon.  When Chuckwagon bends to the left, look for the Willow Springs trail.  Take a hard left and descend into another wooded canyon, which soon becomes a fenced-in bridle trail.  This leads you back to the first junction (make sure you don’t miss it; it happens shortly after the fences end, and the area should look familiar from before).  Take a hard right on the path, head back across the stream and up the hill.  Short as this hike may be, it’s a good workout – your calves are sure to feel it by the time you get back to your car.

On the way back down Bronco Drive, make sure to stop by a clearing on the left side of the road, where you can see the ocean, the Santa Monica Mountains, Los Angeles, the San Gabriels and more.

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