Vista Del Norte Trail
- Location: Rolling Hills Estates, on the corner of Indian Peak Road and Norris Center Drive. From I-405, take the Hawthorne Blvd. exit and drive south for 8.5 miles. Turn left on Indian Peak Road, go 0.4 miles and park in the lot at the Norris Center, on the right. From I-110, take the Pacific Coast Highway exit and head north (west) for 3 miles. Turn left on Crenshaw Blvd., go 3 miles and turn right on Indian Peak. The parking lot at Norris Center will be on your left, in 0.4 miles.
- Agency: Palos Verdes Land Conservancy (Vista Del Norte Reserve)
- Distance: 0.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 250 feet
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Suggested time: 30 minutes
- Best season: Year-round (any day with clear skies)
- USGS topo map: San Pedro
- More information: here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 3
If you like instant gratification, check out the Vista Del Norte, where a short climb gives you some great views of the L.A. Basin. The Vista Del Norte Reserve is one of the many small parcels of land on the Palos Verdes Peninsula operated by the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy.
From the parking area by the Norris Center, head east along the sidewalk on Indian Peak Road. Almost immediately, turn right and follow the single-track trail leading uphill. Take a right on the Vista Del Norte Trail, which switchbacks up the side of the hill. (The Indian Peak Loop Trail, which heads straight, is poorly maintained and hard to follow.)
As you climb, the views get wider and wider. After a quarter mile, you arrive at a bench, just below the communication towers, where you can sit and enjoy the view. If you prefer you can continue past the bench to a summit where clear-day vistas include the Santa Monica Mountains, the ocean, the San Gabriels, San Gorgonio and more.
Obviously, this trail is a little bit short to be a major hiking destination, but if you do the route a couple of times, making it nature’s version of a stair climb, it can be a good workout; it’s also near several other trails on the peninsula that are worth visiting. While the trail never escapes the sights and sounds of civilization nearby, it just goes to show that even in places that seem unlikely, one can still get out into nature.
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. 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.