Ocean Trails Reserve, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA

Ocean Trails Reserve: Sunrise, Sunset and East Portal Trails

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  • Location: Rancho Palos Verdes. From the intersection of 25th Street and Western in San Pedro, head west on 25th for 1.3 miles (25th becomes Palos Verdes Drive South). Turn left onto La Rotunda and follow it 0.4 mile a small, signed parking lot on the right. If you are coming from the west, La Rotunda is 5.3 miles east of Hawthorne Blvd. on Palos Verdes Drive South. Turn right on La Rotunda and follow it to the parking area.
  • Agency: City of Rancho Palos Verdes
  • Distance: 2.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 400 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
  • Best season: Year round (low tide ideal)
  • Dogs: Not allowed on the beach; allowed on leash on the upper trails
  • Cell phone reception: Good for most of the route; weak to fair in spots
  • Water: Fountains at the restroom at the trail head
  • Restrooms: Full restrooms near the trail head
  • Camping/backpacking: None
  • Recommended gear: Sun hat, hiking poles
  • More information: Descriptions of Ocean Trails Reserve and Deane Dana Friendship Park here; Yelp page here; Trip Advisor page here
  • Rating: 4

Updated November 2018

This double loop is one of several possible hiking trips at Ocean Trails Reserve. It shares sections of the Switchbacks/Dudleya hike described here; ambitious hikers can easily continue along the established trails or the coastline for a longer trip and those short on time can shorten this route by not including the East Portal trail or by starting at Founder’s Park.

From the parking area, follow the paved Lakeview Trail past the restrooms as it winds through the golf course, meeting the dirt Catalina Trail in 0.4 mile. Head right (west) on the Catalina Trail, which as its name suggests provides views of Catalina Island. You pass the Dudleya Trail in 0.2 mile and in another 0.1 mile, you reach the Sunrise Trail. You can either descend to the beach on this trail and ascend via the steeper Sunset Trail, which climbs over 100 feet in only 0.1 mile, or make a loop in the other direction. Either way you will have a chance to explore tidepools on the rocky stretch of coastline between the bottom of the two trails.

After climbing back to the Catalina Trail, you can extend the hike by continuing past the Lakeview Trail for another 0.3 mile (also passing the top of the Coastal Switchbacks trail) to the East Portal Trail. Follow it uphill for 0.3 mile to a staircase leading to Twin Harbors View Drive. From here, simply follow La Rotunda downhill back to the parking area.

Ocean Trails Reserve, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
Start of the hike on the Lakeview Trail
Sunrise Trail, Ocean Trails Reserve, CA
Vegetation on the Sunrise Trail, descending to the beach
Tidepools, Ocean Trails Reserve, CA
Tidepools at the bottom of the Sunrise Trail
Ocean Trails Reserve, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
View from the East Portal Trail

Text and photography copyright 2018 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.




  1. Great write up! But there is more to see at Ocean Trails. Have you tried the trails heading down coast past Sunrise Trail? I just did a write up on the Ocean Trails to Shoreline Park route since I couldn’t find any other blogs that had written a page so I did a more detailed one this time on my blog (this Shoreline Park is not to be confused with Abalone Cove Shoreline Park). Just continue down the paved path past Sunrise Trail until you reach a dirt trail that forks off along the bluffs. Cross a couple of wooden bridges near the golf course and continue for about 1/2 mile ending with a loop around Shoreline Park. At Shoreline Park off Sagebrush Walk Trail we found the beach access trail down the bluffs washed out, someone put a board across the gorge (looked like a dangerous crossing and we had kids with us so we backed out). So I would recommend Sunrise Trail for beach access, especially with kids.

    1. I did another write-up of the Switchback Trail, via an obscure route from Warmouth Way in San Pedro that I basically discovered by accident. It cuts through the Ocean Trails Reserve, and follows a route similar to what you’re describing. You can check it out here. Thanks for reading!

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