Text and photography copyright 2010 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.
Shoreline Park Trail
This short, triangle-shaped loop gives hikers the chance to look at one of the most interesting stretches of geology on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The route described here does not include the extra spur down to the ocean, but you will get some nice views of the coastline. If you do decide to go down to the ocean, be very careful–the trail is not very well maintained and prone to erosion.
From Palos Verdes Drive South, head into the preserve at the opening in the fence, and descend steeply for a few yards before the trail levels out. Take the first clear-cut right turn you come to, walk a short distance and take another right, and start heading downhill toward the ocean.
Soon you come to a turnoff for the Gnatcatcher Trail (not signed), which is your return route. Stay to the left; the route heads down the east wall of a small canyon. At the bottom, take a right on the dirt road. You soon come to a clearing where there are benches, and you can get a nice view of the coastline. Here is where you can access the ocean via the short, but very steep spur. Your efforts will be rewarded with some great marine geology, and wildlife (I saw two starfish on my recent trip).
Back on the main trail, you leave the viewing area and climb some steep stairs and arrive at a junction, where you turn right on the Gnatcatcher Trail. There is a lot of prickly pear plants on this trail (this is one of the few places where you can see cacti and ocean vistas at the same time) and soon the trail rejoins the dirt road. Retrace your steps to Palos Verdes Drive South.