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.
Rolling Hills Loop
- Location: Rancho Palos Verdes. From Los Angeles, take I-110 to Pacific Coast Highway. Head right on P.C.H. and in a 0.5 miles, go left on Vermont. Go 0.7 miles and turn right on Palos Verdes Drive North. In 1.8 miles, turn left on Palos Verdes Drive East (make sure you get into the turn lane). in 1.7 miles, turn right on Bronco Drive and park on the street at Martingale Trail Head Park, on the right side of the road at 0.3 miles. From Long Beach, take the Vincent Thomas Bridge and stay straight to go onto Summerland Ave. Go a mile and turn left on Western. Go 0.9 miles and turn right on 9th St., which becomes Miraleste. Go 1.3 miles and turn right on Palos Verdes Drive East. In 1.3 miles, turn left on Bronco Drive.
- Agency: City of Rolling Hills Estates
- Distance: 3.5 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,100 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Steepness, trail condition)
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: October – May
- USGS topo maps: “San Pedro Hills”
- More information: here
- Rating: 6
This loop is an extended, more challenging version of the 2.3 mile Martingale Loop. With views that include San Gorgonio, Mt. Baldy, downtown L.A. and the Santa Monica Mountains, and with visits to several secluded canyons, this is one of the most scenically interesting hikes on the Peninsula. While hard-core hikers may be put off by this trip’s proximity to civilization, and that it includes a stretch on a paved road, it’s certainly well worth a visit if you’re in the area. It covers a lot of ground outside the Martingale Loop, so even if you’ve already done that trail, don’t pass this one up.
As with the Martingale Loop, make the steep descent to the canyon. Take a left on the trail at the bottom, onto the Willow Springs trail. Follow it to Chuckwagon (as in the Martingale Loop), and cross the street and pick up another trail (East Bluff) heading uphill. Soon, take a right where the East Bluff Trail continues straight ahead. Make a short but steep climb to arrive at Caballero, another paved road. Here, you get great views of downtown L.A. and the San Gabriels.
Across Caballero, enter the Purple Canyon trail, which heads downhill, and soon take a hard left on a trail signed, Saffo’s Rest. Another steep climb brings you to a quiet, shaded picnic area, where through the trees you get another nice mountain view. There’s a picnic table, but be careful of the ditch next to it (it may be obscured in the high grass).
Past the picnic area, you cross Georgeff Road, and start on the Fuld’s Furlong trail, which descends, taking nice urban and mountain views. Soon, a sign will indicate a left turn to stay on the trail. This part of the trail is a little overgrown, but if you find yourself climbing again, you’re on the right route. After a short, steep stretch, the grade levels out and arrives at Portuguese Bend Road. Cross the street and take a right, along the shoulder.
After about half a mile, head right on Poppy Trail, and immediately bear left onto the Hesse Gap trail. This trail switchbacks back down into the canyon (bear right, and bypass the first hairpin turn). At the bottom, take a left at a sign that reads “California Sagebrush” and continue, heading back to complete the loop. Look for the original trail leading to the Martingale park; it can be easy to miss. If you find yourself back on the bridle trail, you’ve come too far. Head left on the trail, cross the creek and retrace your steps to the street.
Don’t worry if the route sounds convoluted; it’s pretty easy to follow, especially if you’re near the area. The link provided also has some good information.