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 in 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 14er is not needed to test my skills. A mere 1,000 feet elevation gain can get me into hyperventilation mode.
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Del Cerro Park
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.
This is where the Del Cerro Park comes into play. From here, 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 Access
Del Cerro Park is located at the end of Crenshaw Boulevard, The exact address is 2 Park Place (Rancho Palos Verdes).
Access to the park is free of charge.
Parking is on the park’s lot or on the street. Drinking water is available on-site but there are no restroom facilities. There are some porta-potties scattered around.
Portuguese Bend Reserve
Del Cerro Park connects to the 399-acre Portuguese Bend Reserve. This entire area is famous because of its constant land movements. The 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 called 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.
Hiking to Abalone and Sacred Cove
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 or Sacred Cove).
I was not able to find clear information about the length of the hike. Some people mentioned it was 5 miles round trip to the bottom of the mountain. Others said it was 7 miles round trip 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.
From 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.
More to See on the Portuguese Bend Reserve
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
Portuguese Bend Reserve: Details and Access
As mentioned, the Portuguese Bend Reserve is accessed from Del Cerro Park. You will notice a gate on one side of the park. There are signs giving you details about the reserve.
It is a good idea to use the restroom (porta-potty) before starting the hike.
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. A good idea is to take a photo of the reserve’s trails at the trailhead.
You can also start the hike from the bottom (i.e. the Palos Verdes Drive level). In this case, you would park at the Abalone Cove Shoreline Park. Now, this is a fee area. To find all the details about this park, read my Abalone Cove post.
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.
There is a lot to do in the area. It is very easy to spend an entire day hiking, doing watersports or hiking on the beach.
I have a detailed article on the best Palos Verdes Hikes and Trails. I recommend checking out that article to plan out your day. Most of the hikes in the area have a free access.
Close to Abalone Cove, you will find the following:
Where to Eat
The Palos Verdes Peninsula is a natural heaven. We love it here because it is not heavily commercialized.
That means you are not going to find restaurants, eateries or cafes at every corner. The options are somewhat limited. However, that is a small price to pay in order to be in contact with so much beauty.
If you are feeling a bit hungry your best bet is the Peninsula Shopping Center. In there you will find Peruvian, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Mexican and American restaurants. A coffee shop, supermarket, and pharmacy are located in the area. The shopping center is located about 2 miles from the reserve.
Another option is to drive to the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway and chose an eatery at the Rolling Hills Plaza. The options in there are varied enough to keep everybody on your party happy.
The Portuguese Bend Reserve is located 18 miles from the Los Angeles International Airport, 27 miles from Downtown Los Angeles, 27 miles from Santa Monica and 24 miles from Venice Beach.
The reserve is much closer to the beach cities in Los Angeles County (Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach). We are talking about 10 to 12 miles.
This is a good option for those who have visited the Los Angeles area more than once or for residents looking for a beautiful day trip.
Dress and Accessories
Dressing in layers is recommendable. Mornings and evenings can be chilly. Remember to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Also, keep in mind you will need sturdy shoes if you want to hike/walk around.
More of the South Bay
While checking the wonders of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, it may be a good idea to stop by the nearby towns.
More of Los Angeles
- Find out how to spend one fun-filled day in Los Angeles
- Get inspiration by reading my Los Angeles Ultimate Bucket List
- Venice Beach Murals
Have you been to the Portuguese Bend Reserve or the Del Cerro Park?
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