Cellular Service Difficulty PG Distance 2.1 to 5 miles Dogs allowed Hikes with free parking Rating: 4-6 Season: All year South Bay/Long Beach/West Side

Pirate/Cristo Que Viento/Flying Mane Loop (Forrestal Reserve)

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  • 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 by the gate where available, near the signed entrance to the preserve and the Pirate Trail.
  • Agency: Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy
  • Distance: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 800 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
  • Best season: Year round but hot during the summer
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on warm days)
  • Cell phone reception: Good
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: Chemical toilet on Forrestal Drive inside the reserve
  • Camping/backpacking: None
  • Public transportation: The Palos Verdes Peninsula Transit Authority’s Orange Line bus has a stop on the corner of Palos Verdes Drive and Forrestal, 0.4 mile from the trail head.
  • Recomended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
  • More information: Article about the preserve here; Yelp page here; All Trails report (slightly different route)
  • Rating: 6

This is one of the more challenging and adventurous short hikes on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. With several trails to choose from – and the larger Portuguese Bend Reserve accessible to the west – there are many possible routes here. The trip described below provides a short but vigorous workout with some great scenic highlights.

Begin by ascending the no-nonsense Pirate Trail. The trail follows a ridge between Mariposa Canyon and Que Viento Canyon, climbing more than 300 feet in just 0.3 mile to meet the Mariposa and Cristo Que Viento trails. After taking a breather, continue uphill on the Cristo Que Viento Trail, climbing another 350 feet in 0.3 mile. The trail reaches a staircase leading to a private residence at the northern edge of the preserve. After enjoying an outstanding view to the south, carefully retrace your steps back to the junction.

The rest of the hike is much easier but no less scenic, especially during sunsets, when the western-facing sections of the trails provide ideal viewing. Head west on the Mariposa Trail which ducks into a shaded canyon before reaching a junction. Bear right on the Flying Mane Trail which skirts the side of the cliffs before descending to the Fossil Trail. Follow the Fossil Trail to Forrestal Drive and complete the last 0.4 mile on pavement, returning to your starting point.

Pirate Trail, Forrestal Reserve, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
Ascending the Pirate Trail
Forrestal Reserve, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
Cholla on the Cristo Que Viento Trail
Forrestal Reserve, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
Entering Mariposa Canyon
Mariposa Trail, Forrestal Reserve, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
Mariposa 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. Glad to hear you liked the trail! There are certainly some good ones on the Peninsula that don’t get a whole lot of coverage.

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