Once in a while, my husband says we should climb a mountain together.
I enjoy walking and hiking and am fascinated by the outdoors. But, mountains are on their own league. I don’t think I am fit enough to tackle a challenge like that.
The problem is that my definition of ‘mountain’ seems to be unclear in my mind.
My idea of mountains brings visions of the Rockies or of the Sierra Nevada. However, a 14 thousander is not needed to test my skills. A mere 1,000 feet elevation gain can get me into hyperventilation mode.
Del Cerro Park is located in the city of Rancho Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County.
I have discussed the wonders of the Palos Verdes Peninsula at length in this blog. The coastal, panoramic road affords incredible views of the ocean, offshore islands and coastal headlands.
The thing is that you do not have to limit yourself to the scenes from the road (which, by the way, is about 200 feet from the ocean floor). You can drive to the top of the peninsula and observe the panorama from there.
On a clear day, it is easy to spot the Terranea Resort, the Abalone Cove Ecological Reserve, the Portuguese Bend Beach (private), the Trump National Golf Club, horse ranches and some of the mansions hanging perilously from the mountain slopes. Catalina Island appears just in front of the park.
Del Cerro Park connects to the 399-acre Portuguese Bend Reserve. This entire area is famous because of its constant land movements. There road around here has bumps, curves and potholes (it is always in some sort of construction state). The cliffs and headlands are considered unstable.
Because of the geology, the place is unsuitable for building. This has contributed to the conservation of plant and animal species.
The reserve consists of rolling hills, five distinct steep canyons and rock outcrops, with coastal sage scrub habitat, a community of intensely fragrant and drought resistant shrubs and flowering plants. The main trail here is called Burma Road but there are many other small trails that branch to different viewpoints and geological features.
I love how one girl calls the reserve the ‘Big Sur of Southern California,’ in one of her Yelp reviews. This is a place where the mountains meet the coast in a dramatic way.
But let me tell you, this looks like an easy hike but it is not. After all, you will have to ascend or descend a mountain depending on where you start the hike.
When I visited Del Cerro Park the first time, I didn’t know about the reserve. I did a little bit of research and decided to go back to hike. My goal was to hike down the mountain, cross the road and make it to the beach (Abalone Cove).
I was not able to find clear information about the length of the hike. Some people mentioned it was 5 miles roundtrip to the bottom of the mountain. Others said it was 7 miles roundtrip to the beach but it was difficult to determine if they were referring to the top of the bluffs or to the actual beach.
I have hiked similar lengths before and I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. Oh boy, I was so wrong. I didn’t even make it to the road.
At one point, we decided to walk to one of the viewpoints since I knew I was not going to be able to make it to the goal.
The walk back was steep and painful. Remember I mentioned how out of shape I am? Well, it took quite some time and many rest stops to return to the start point.
Lesson learned: Do not underestimate any mountain.
For what I have read, even people who exercise regularly feel the burn after doing a long hike in here. Therefore, weight your options. There are many trails in the reserve and there should one (or more) that fits your endurance level.
Also, try to spot the red hawks that inhabit the reserve. You will probably see them flying over you. With a little luck, you can see them resting on a branch or bush.
- Parking is free if you access the reserve from the top. You can leave your car at the Del Cerro Park parking lot or at the end of Crenshaw Boulevard.
- You can also start the hike from the bottom. In this case, you should park at the Abalone Cove Ecological Reserve. The daily usage fee is $5.
- Many parts of this trail do not have any shade so I highly suggest bringing a hat and a lot of water.
- The main road can also be tackled using a mountain bike or a horse.
- The trail is dog friendly (on leash) but I do not recommend bringing a dog here due to the nature of the trail.
- The trail system is kind of confusing here because of the many deviations. Some people use a GPS system as a guide. You can find a map of the reserve at this address: http://www.pvplc.org/_lands/portuguese_bend.asp
- If you don’t feel like walking, you can always take a look at the Abalone Cove tide pools and then drive to Del Cerro Park for the views.
Would you like to hike here?