Portuguese Bend Nature Reserve, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA

Portuguese Bend Reserve Vista Point from Forrestal

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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.  If the gate is open, drive a quarter mile to the end of the street and begin on the Purple Sage trail.  If the gate is closed, park below it and walk to the end of the street, adding half a mile round trip.
  • Agency: Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (Portuguese Bend Reserve/Forrestal Reserve)
  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,150 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, steepness, trail condition)
  • Suggested time: 2 hours
  • Best season: All year but hot during the summer
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles; sun hat
  • Dogs: Allowed on leash (exercise caution on warm days and watch out for snakes)
  • Cell phone reception: Good
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: Chemical toilets at the upper junction of the Burma Road and Ishibashi Trails (see description)
  • Camping/backpacking: None
  • More information: Google Map of the route here; Meet Up description of a similar route here
  • Rating: 6

Updated June 2018

The Portuguese Bend Overlook is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the South Bay, offering outstanding views of Catalina Island and the Palos Verdes coastline. The most popular route is from Del Cerro Park above, but the overlook can also be reached via a longer and more challenging hike from below, starting at the Forrestal Nature Reserve. The route described below uses many trails and may seem a little confusing but the park signage is good and it’s hard to get too lost. This loop is designed to have variety going both up and down and also to spend as little time on the utilitarian but not very scenic Burma Road Trail as possible. Note that trail conditions may vary so check with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy before attempting this route.

Start by heading west on the Purple Sage Trail which merges into the Conqueror Trail, dropping down into Klondike Canyon along the southern border of the Forrestal Nature Reserve. After crossing the bottom of Klondike Canyon, take a hard right on the Klondike Canyon Trail (0.4 mile from the start). Climb steeply to the Barn Owl Trail, bear left and bear left again on the Panorama Trail which lives up to its name, providing impressive views of the hills above. On the way, you pass the Sandbox Trail, your return route.

At 0.8 mile (150 vertical feet above the bottom of Klondike Canyon) you reach the Burma Road Trail, a fire road that was once intended to be an extension of Crenshaw Blvd. It heads uphill, passing a junction with the lower end of the Rim Trail (closed as of June 2018 due to hazardous conditions). After 0.4 mile on the Burma Road Trail, turn right on the Ishibashi Trail (not to be confused with the Ishibashi Farms Trail).

The Ishibashi Trail climbs steadily, picking up about 400 feet in 0.8 mile as it curves around the eastern end of the preserve, providing some impressive coastal views. A black walnut tree about halfway up the incline (the only shade on the route) makes for a good rest spot.

After passing junctions with the Rim and Grapevine Trails, the Ishibashi Trail rejoins Burma Road. Turn left and follow it downhill to the Eagle’s Nest Trail, which ascends to the overlook. After enjoying the views, continue on the Eagle’s Nest Trail which drops off the knoll and rejoins Burma Road, a total of 2.8 miles from the start.

Turn right on Burma and immediately turn left on the Vanderlip Trail which is named for Frank Vanderlip (1864-1937), a banker known as the “Father of Palos Verdes.” Follow it a short distance to the Kubota Trail, turn left and go 0.3 mile to the Water Tank Trail. Turn right and almost immediately turn left on the Garden Trail. The short but scenic Garden Trail is one of the more adventurous stretches of the hike, climbing through some scrub oak chaparral and along a cliff side. Stay straight at a junction with the Toyon Trail and then make a hard right on the Pepper Tree Trail.

The Pepper Tree Trail descends about 300 feet in 0.6 mile, passing the Ishibashi Farms Trail before meeting the Sandbox Trail. The short but steep Sandbox Trail (200 feet of elevation gain in 0.2 mile) brings you back to the Panorama Trail. From here, retrace your steps back down into Klondike Canyon and the parking lot.



Purple Sage Trail, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Start of the hike (Purple Sage Trail)
Panorama Trail, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
On the Panorama Trail
Ishibashi Trail, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
Shade tree on the Ishibashi Trail
Portuguese Bend Vista Point, CA
Vista point
Portuguese Bend Nature Reserve, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
Heading downhill on the Eagle’s Nest Trail
Portugese Bend Nature Reserve, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
Rolling hills on the Eagle’s Nest Trail
Vanderlip Trail, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Start of the Vanderlip Trail
Garden Trail, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Garden 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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