Filiorum Reserve, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

Filiorum Reserve: Rattlesnake/Gary’s Gulch Loop

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    • Location: Rancho Palos Verdes, off Pacifica Drive. From I-110, take the Pacific Coast Highway exit. Head west (right if you’re coming from the north, left if from the south) and go 3 miles. Take a left on Crenshaw and drive 3.6 miles, just past Crest, where parking is available on the right side of the road. Park in one of the marked spots. The address 29841 Crenshaw Blvd. will give you the approximate location.
    • Agency: Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy/Filiorum Reserve
    • Distance: 2.1 miles
    • Elevation gain: 750 feet
    • Difficulty Rating: PG
    • Suggested time: 2 hours
    • Best season: Year round
    • Dogs: Allowed on leash (be careful of rattlesnakes and exercise caution on warm days)
    • Cell phone reception: Good; fair in some spots
    • Water: None
    • Restrooms: None
    • Camping/backpacking: None
    • Recommended gear: sun hat; hiking poles
    • More information: Map My Hike report here
    • Rating: 6

This short but challenging semi-loop is one of many possible hikes in the Filiorum Reserve, a relatively new (2009) parcel of open space on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.  The hike starts with a dramatic drop from Crenshaw Blvd. on the Rattlesnake Trail, which descends 400 feet along Altamira Canyon in only 0.4 mile – which, of course must be made up for on the return. As the trail levels out, it reaches a junction with Zote’s Cutacross. Turn right and head west, dipping into the shaded recesses of lower Altamira Canyon before reaching a junction with the Kelvin Canyon Trail. The Kelvin Canyon trail heads south along the rim of Altamira Canyon (Kelvin Canyon itself is farther east). The trail then bends to the east, passing by the back of a private residence before reaching a junction.

Bear right on the Eucalyptus trail and follow it through a grove of (you guessed it) eucalyptus trees. At your next junction with the Gary’s Gulch Trail (0.8 mile), head downhill, once again heading south toward the ocean. The trail crosses Kelvin Canyon, the low point of the hike and the boundary of the reserve. Now within the limits of the Portuguese Bend Reserve, you climb to a junction with the Vanderlip Trail. Turn left and begin a steady climb, passing a junction with the Kubota Trail before reaching Burma Road, the main artery of Portuguese Bend – originally intended as an extension of Crenshaw Blvd. that would have linked to Palos Verdes Drive South.

You have several options at this point. You can take Burma Road all the way back to your starting point, a longer but more gradual ascent than returning via the Rattlesnake Trail. However, if you aren’t a fan of fire roads and want the challenge, you can return to the Rattlesnake Trail by turning left on the Kelvin Canyon Trail and following it back into the Filiorum Reserve. You soon reach the bottom of the Rattlesnake Trail where you will turn right and head uphill, passing Zote’s Cutacross and retracing your steps up to Crenshaw Blvd.

If the route sounds a little convoluted, keep in mind that the trails here are well signed. You can also, of course, modify the route and still have an enjoyable hike.

Rattlesnake Trail, Filiorum Reserve
Rattlesnake Trail
Kelvin Canyon Trail, Filiorum Reserve
Kelvin Canyon Trail
Gary's Gulch Trail, Filiorum Reserve
Gary’s Gulch Trail
Kelvin Canyon Trail, Filiorum Reserve
Sunset from the Kelvin Canyon 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.

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