Discover the natural beauty of the Filiorum Reserve with our hiking guide. Explore scenic trails, take in breathtaking views, and learn about the local ecosystem.
Located in the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the Filiorum Reserve is a 96-acre ecological gem that’s a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and hikers.
This hidden treasure boasts stunning coastal landscapes and a diverse array of plant and animal species that are native to Southern California’s natural terrain.
In this article, we aim to provide a hiking guide for visitors to the reserve, highlighting the different trails, activities, and safety tips for a fun and safe experience.
Whether you’re a nature lover or simply seeking a peaceful escape from the city, the Filiorum Reserve is the perfect destination for a day hike. Let’s dive in!
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Getting to the Filiorum Reserve
Getting to the Filiorum Reserve is easy and convenient. Here’s what you need to know:
- There are multiple entry points to the reserve. My favorite entry point is located at the end of Ocean Terrace Drive
- Alternatively, enter the reserve near the intersection of Crest Road and Highridge Road
- The entrance to the reserve is marked by a sign with information about the trails and environment
- The entrance to the Reserve is free of charge
- Parking is on the street. There are no time limitations
- Keep in mind you will park in a residential area. Avoid loud noises (yelling, honking, etc.), speeding, and littering. Respect private property
- There are no restrooms in the Reserve. Please plan accordingly
- Here is a map of the Filiorum Reserve and nearby landmarks
- Dogs are not allowed on any of the hiking trails at the Reserve
Hiking Trails at Filiorum Reserve
The Reserve offers several hiking trails that vary in length and difficulty level, catering to hikers of all experience levels.
- Length: 1.8 miles (roundtrip)
- Difficulty: Easy (mostly flat trail)
- Estimated hiking time: 1 hour
This trail offers stunning views of the coastline, Catalina Island, and the Pacific Ocean. This is the trail to do if you are looking for maximum gratification with a minimum amount of effort (since it is one of the easiest Palos Verdes hikes). This is one of the places I take out-of-town visitors. They cannot believe this is Los Angeles.
Jack’s Hat Trail
- Length: 1.2 miles (roundtrip), about 3 miles if combined with McBride Trail starting at Ocean Terrace Drive
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Estimated hiking time: 1 hour, 2 hours when combined with McBride Trail
The Jack’s Hat Trail can be accessed from the McBride Trail. Even though this is a short trail, you will need to walk part of the McBride Trail to reach it (so the hike is always more than 1.2 miles).
My recommendation will be to walk the McBride Trail from the Ocean Terrace Drive trailhead and connect to Jack’s Hat Trail. That will create a more than amazing loop!
Keep in mind the Jack’s Hat Trail has some steep (and rough) inclines. You will need more stamina to complete it.
Pony Trail (via McBride Trail)
- Length: 2.8 miles (roundtrip), combined with McBride Trail starting at Crest Drive
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Estimated hiking time: 2 hours
Yet another way to extend your hiking time in the reserve.
- Length: 1.2 miles (roundtrip)
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Estimated hiking time: 1 hour
As the name implies, this trail connects the Filiorum Reserve to the Portuguese Bend Reserve. The trail is accessed from the McBride Trail (so again, you will hike more than 1.2 miles).
Walking this trail will take you east. Therefore, it affords the opportunity to discover different views in that direction.
Filiorum – Portuguese Bend Loop
- Length: 4.4 miles (depends on trails taken)
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Estimated hiking time: Several hours
This loop is for more experienced hikers. You can start by taking the MbBride Trail, connecting to Zote’s Cutacross and, finally connecting to Rattlesnake Trail. You will end up close to Del Cerro Park.
Or, you can take the McBride, Zote’s Cutacross, Kelvin Canyon, and Burma Road trails. This route will take you directly to Del Cerro Park.
A good map is recommended if you attempt this hike.
Trails in the Three Sisters Reserve
From the McBride Trail trailhead located close to Ocean Terrace Drive, you can access the trails in the Three Sisters Reserve. I do not want to get into details since this is a different reserve but here is an idea of what trails you can experience there:
- McCarrel Canyon Trail
- Barkentine Trail
- Three Sisters Trail
- Sunshine Trail
What to Bring on a Filiorum Reserve Hike
When heading out on a hike at the Filiorum Reserve, it’s important to come prepared with the right gear and supplies. Here’s a list of recommended items to bring:
Water – Staying hydrated is key, so be sure to bring plenty of water for the duration of your hike.
Snacks – Pack some lightweight, energy-boosting snacks to keep you fueled during your hike, such as trail mix or energy bars. I keep everything organized in a small crossbody bag. My husband prefers to take a light day pack.
Appropriate Clothing – Wear comfortable, moisture-wicking clothing that’s appropriate for the weather conditions. Consider dressing in layers, as temperatures can fluctuate during the day.
Footwear – Wear comfortable, sturdy footwear that’s appropriate for hiking, such as hiking boots or athletic shoes with good traction. Merrell shoes have always been good for my crooked feet. My husband is more of a fan of the Salomon brand.
Hiking Poles – Hiking poles are lifesavers on trails with an incline (more if you have wobbly knees)
Sun Protection – Protect yourself from the sun with a wide bream hat, sunscreen, lip balm, and a long sleeve tee.
It’s important to remember to respect the natural environment while hiking at the Filiorum Reserve. Be sure to pack out all of your trash and avoid littering. Help preserve the beauty of the reserve for future generations to enjoy.
By following these tips and packing the right gear, visitors can have a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.
Safety Tips for Hiking
Hiking at the Filiorum Reserve can be a wonderful experience, but it’s important to take safety precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
Stay on marked trails – The reserve has designated hiking trails that are marked and maintained for hikers’ safety. Stay on these trails to avoid getting lost or wandering into unsafe areas.
Do not rely on Google for trail guidance – Google shows the Jack’s Hat and Pony Trails connecting to the trails in the Three Sisters Reserve. This is not accurate. Plan your hike (the exact route) before arriving at the Reserve using official maps.
Avoid steep or unstable terrain – Some parts of the reserve may have steep or unstable terrain. Be cautious and avoid areas that may be unsafe or too difficult to navigate.
Watch out for wildlife – The reserve is home to a variety of wildlife, including snakes and coyotes. Be aware of your surroundings and keep a safe distance from any animals you encounter. Do not attempt to approach or feed them.
Beware of poison oak – Poison oak is a common plant in the area and can cause an itchy, painful rash. Learn to identify the plant and avoid touching it or coming into contact with it.
Bring a first aid kit – In case of any injuries or emergencies, it’s always a good idea to bring a basic first aid kit with you on your hike.
Check the weather – Before heading out on your hike, check the weather forecast to ensure you’re prepared for any changes in weather conditions. I do not recommend hiking when the temperature is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You may even want to avoid the trails if the temperature is over 90.
Other Activities at Filiorum Reserve
While hiking is a popular activity at the Filiorum Reserve, there are also other activities and amenities available for visitors to enjoy. Here are a few:
The reserve is home to a variety of bird species, including raptors, shorebirds, and songbirds. Birdwatching enthusiasts can bring binoculars and a bird identification guide to observe and identify different species.
The reserve offers guided tours led by knowledgeable docents who provide insights into the natural and cultural history of the area. These tours can be a great way to learn more about the reserve and its ecosystem. For details, check this page.
The reserve offers educational programs for students and adults, including field trips, workshops, and lectures on a variety of topics related to the natural environment.
Visitors can enjoy a light lunch or snack along the trails, viewpoints, or spots appropriate for sitting.
While the Filiorum Reserve is a great destination in its own right, visitors can also explore several nearby attractions in the surrounding area. Here are a few:
Located just a few miles from the Filiorum Reserve, the Wayfarers Chapel is a stunning glass chapel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son. Visitors can tour the chapel and its surrounding gardens. The entrance is free.
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park
This park is located just south of the Filiorum Reserve and offers stunning ocean views, tidepools, and a secluded beach. Visitors can also hike along the park’s scenic trails. There is an entrance fee.
Point Vicente Lighthouse
This historic lighthouse is located just a few miles from the Filiorum Reserve and offers stunning ocean views. Visitors can tour the lighthouse and its surrounding museum. The entrance is free.
Korean Bell of Friendship
This massive bell was a gift from South Korea to the United States in 1976. Visitors can view the bell and its surrounding park. The entrance is free.
Ocean Trails Reserve
The Ocean Trails Reserve is located adjacent to the Trump National Golf Club. By law, the Golf Club has to provide public access to the coast. There is a series of trails that connect to the beaches, coves, and viewpoints. The entrance is free.
By exploring these nearby attractions, visitors can round out their trip to the Filiorum Reserve and experience even more of the beauty and history of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
After a day of hiking, visitors may be looking for a place to grab a bite to eat. Luckily, there are several great restaurants located nearby that offer a range of cuisine options. Here are a few to consider:
Nelson’s at Terranea – This restaurant is located just a few miles south of the Filiorum Reserve at the Terranea Resort. It offers a casual, beachside atmosphere and a menu featuring fresh seafood, burgers, salads, and more.
Yellow Vase – This cafe is located just a few miles east of the reserve and offers a menu featuring sandwiches, salads, and baked goods. It’s a great option for a quick bite or a cup of coffee.
Swan Thai – This popular eatery serves favorites such as tom yum, tom kha, green papaya salad, red curry, and pad thai. They have a wide selection of lunch specials.
Tomatillo Mexican Grill – This is the place to get your fill of burritos, tacos, torta, and quesadillas. I love their red chile sauce enchilada plate. Yum!
I hope you have enjoyed this guide! It’s important to remember that the Filiorum Reserve is a fragile ecosystem, and it’s up to us to help protect it. Visitors should take care to stay on marked trails, avoid disturbing the wildlife, and pack out their trash to help preserve the reserve for future generations.
So if you’re looking for a chance to connect with nature and experience the beauty of Southern California, the Filiorum Reserve is the perfect destination. Get out there and explore!
More of Palos Verdes
Palos Verdes Hikes and Trails (The Ultimate Guide)
Point Vicente Lighthouse, Center and Trails
Golden Cove and Other Secret Coves
More Hikes in Southern California
Have you explored the Filiorum Reserve in Palos Verdes? What other Palos Verdes Hiking Trails do you recommend?
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