Are you ever amazed by your own backyard? In this case, the backyard was 25 miles away, but I was still astounded by the beauty of Palos Verdes, and at the fact that I had spent so little time there despite its proximity. If you are looking for a cliffside trek, hiking in Palos Verde is a terrific option.
Why the trip now? Adventure. Andy and I made a plan to go exploring, and we chose to hike along the bluffs in the Palos Verdes Estates Shoreline Preserve (a choice only marginally chosen because it was only a few miles from Yellow Fever restaurant in Torrance). I’ve only heard glowing comments about the area, and so we decided it was time for us to enjoy the day by the water.
Because I’m still strengthening the ankle, and I have novice hiking skills at best, we chose the 2.8 Blufftop Trail rather than the more challenging Rocky Shore. While the other is still on our list, the views from atop the cliffs are spectacular, and I’m thrilled that we started there. You know what else made me happy? Despite it being part of a preserve, the hike, and the parking were free. Yes, it’s true! You can find free parking in the Greater Los Angeles area!
We found the trail by winding our way through the estates. The gracefully laid out homes were only shadowed by the fantastic natural sea views that we kept getting glimpses of as we followed the twists and turns of the neighborhood. We followed Palos Verdes Drive West and then made a left to reach Paseo Del Mar. As you drive onto it, you should immediately spy the small parking lot to the right as the street carries on to the left (we actually chose to park along the street rather than entering the crowded lot).
The Blufftop Trial begins near the parking area with a small descent along a dirt and gravel path. It’s not steep, but take care when walking down it because of the loose ground. The same is true for the majority of the trail – loose stones and dirt exist for most of the path. It is largely flat with some minor exceptions that you are likely to notice on the loop back when you might be tired and going uphill to reach your car.
As for the views – they are exceptional. The waves were lively when we first arrived but calmed as the afternoon hours rolled in. Though the photos do not do them justice, the different colors of the water were stunning. In fact, we probably stood in place and marveled at it all for a good five minutes before beginning the trek. You’ll see that the growing sea grass (and kelp, I assume) can give the water an almost purple tinge while the differing depths give off varying shades of green.
You’ll pass trees, steep drops, and options to climb down and get closer (though there didn’t seem to be easy ways to go all the way down to the beach trail unless you went with the designated entry points). We enjoyed watching the sailboats glide along the ocean and wondering at the odd wood-like rocky structures that have formed along the water’s edge.
It’s a popular spot for locals and those not quite so local, though it was mid-day on a warm weather Sunday, so hikes during the week might not reach the numbers that we had. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash, and we saw many of them! One note of warning: there are no guard rails along the trail, so mind your footing.
Overall? Two thumbs up and well worth getting off the couch! It’s not a difficult hike in a breathtaking location that is both easy to get to and free. What could be better than that?