Cabrillo Beach & Pier
- Location: San Pedro. From the south end of I-110, take Gaffey Street south for 1.4 miles. Turn left on 19th St., go 0.3 miles and turn right on Pacific Avenue. Turn left on Stephen White Drive and head into the park. Parking is $1 per hour (cash only) with a daily maximum of $9.
- Agency: City of L.A. Parks & Recreation
- Distance: 2 miles
- Elevation gain: Level
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Best season: All year
- USGS topo map: “San Pedro”
- Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
- More information: here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 4
Cabrillo Beach Park is one of several popular recreational destinations in San Pedro, along with nearby Point Fermin Park and Angels Gate Park. The beach also shares the property with the famous Cabrillo Aquarium. Although this is not necessarily the place to go for peace and quiet (and there’s a good amount of trash and graffiti), Cabrillo Beach offers a wide range of scenery, including Old Saddleback, the San Gabriels, Catalina Island and the characteristic marine geology of the area.
From the parking area, walk along the beach toward the pier. Make your way onto the concrete pier and walk to its end. If the surf is high, you’ll get a great view of the waves crashing over the breakwater on the right.
At the end of the pier, head back, taking in nice views of the Palos Verdes Peninsula on the way. Here, depending on how high the tide is, you can walk back along beach on the opposite (south) side of the pier, with good views of Point Fermin. At the far corner of the beach, you can walk across a footbridge to the southeast side of Point Fermin, where you can sit and enjoy the sights of the ocean and the marine geology. This is a good turnaround point, although with caution in times of low tide you can make your way around the tip of Point Fermin.
To complete the loop, head back across the footbridge and walk back to the parking lot. You can extend the trip a little bit by heading north along the beach.
While Cabrillo Beach is a little bit short to be a major hiking destination, one can easily make a day of visiting the beach, the aquarium and the other parks nearby. Film buffs might want to visit the nearby Korean Friendship Bell at Angels Gate Park, used in “The Usual Suspects.”
Text and photography copyright 2012 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.