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.
Mariposa/Quarry Loop in the Forrestal Reserve
- 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: 1.9 miles
- Elevation gain: 650 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Best season: All year
- Recomended gear: hiking poles
- USGS topo map: “San Pedro”
- More information: here; trail map here
- Rating: 6
Great ocean views, interesting geology and a surprising amount of solitude make this one of the better short hikes on the Palos Verdes Peninsula – not to mention one of the most challenging. On a clear day, you can see Catalina, the Santa Monica Mountains, and if you’re lucky, remote Santa Barbara Island in the Channel Islands National Park.
From the gate, pick up the trail heading right, past a chain linked fence. Almost immediately, you come to a junction. The right fork, the Pirate Trail, is your return route. Head left, toward the Quarry Trail, switchbacking your way up the hill, taking in nice ocean views as you ascend. After half a mile or so, head left on the Bassalt Trail and take a quick right on the Mariposa Trail, which heads east. You get nice views of the canyon below and can see the trail you were just on. Notice the interesting sedimentary rock formations as you make your way through the back of the canyon.
After crossing a foot bridge, the trail heads back toward the ocean, rises slightly and comes to an intersection. If you have had enough, you can follow the steep Pirate Trail back to the street, but if you want a challenge, take a hard left onto the Cristo Que Viento trail. You begin a short but steep climb – 300 feet in about a third of a mile – that finally tops out at a clearing, just below from private homes. Here you’ll get your best views of the whole hike as the ocean spreads out in front of you, barely a mile away and almost a thousand feet below.
After enjoying the vistas, make a careful descent, continuing along the Pirate Trail and back to the street. If you enjoyed this trip, make sure you check out some of the other trails in the Forrestal Reserve, and elsewhere on the peninsula.