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.
Madrona Marsh Nature Center
- Location: 3201 Plaza Del Amo, Torrance. From I-405, take the Crenshaw Blvd. exit and head south for 2.3 miles. Take a right on Carson, go 0.7 miles and head left on Maple. Go 0.3 miles and turn right onto Plaza Del Amo. Park in the lot on the right, across from the entrance to the nature preserve.
- Agency: Friends of Madrona Marsh
- Distance: 0.8 miles
- Elevation gain: Level
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Best season: All year (best after recent rains) – 10am to 5pm; closed Mondays
- USGS topo map: Torrance
- More information: here
- Rating: 2
It’s very easy to drive right by the Madrona Marsh Preserve in Torrance, and if it wasn’t for Allen Riedel’s “Best Easy Day Hikes South Bay L.A.” I probably would never have found out about it myself. But, unlikely as it seems, tucked away between Torrance’s busiest streets is a 10-acre preserve where one can escape into a world of wetlands, oaks, and many water birds.
From the entrance on Plaza Del Amo, you can make a loop around the perimeter of the preserve. If there have been recent rains, you’ll see several small vernal pools dotting the bright green landscape. Head left, toward Maple, toward the south end of the reserve. As the trail parallels Sepulveda, you arrive at a wide marsh where you will probably see a quite a few water fowl hanging out.
When the trail curves north to parallel Madrona, you are in for a treat, as the swamp on your right is choked with oaks and willows. Not only are the twisted branches interesting to look at, but their reflections in the water make the scenery even more unusual, especially considering the urban setting. The trail continues to complete the loop alongside Plaza Del Amo.
The Madrona Marsh Preserve is, at the risk of sounding cliche, a true urban oasis. It’s a perfect place for outdoor exploration, especially for those who want to experience nature but aren’t sure where to start. Even hardcore hikers who visit this place will have to agree that walking through it certainly beats working in any of the office buildings that surround it. If you enjoy your visit, consider making a donation to or volunteering for the Friends of Madrona Marsh, without whom this place could easily have become a big box retailer.