Weekend Adventures: George F Canyon Family Hike

When the kids were stroller age, it was hard to find a hike that would allow us to get out for some nature and back home in time for naps.  That’s when we found George F Canyon and the convenience of the the stroller friendly trail.  Of course, now that the kids are independent little hikers, we still love to visit and look for lizards, rabbits and the occasional snake.  George F Canyon Nature Preserve, also known as the Stein-Hale Nature Trail, encompasses as total of 51 acres, of which 16 acres were added in 2016.  This trail can also be a great launch point for a trail run as with a little creativity it can be turned into a long loop through the gated community of Rolling Hills.

Distance: Approximately 1.5-2 miles round trip depending on where you start.
What to bring: Running or light hiking shoes, snacks for the kids, water bottle, long pants to avoid the poison oak.
Best time of year: Year round, but early morning and evenings are best when it’s hot.
Difficulty: Gentle uphill, all dirt trail, with a steep section at the western end of the trail
Directions: Corner of PV Drive North and PV Drive East.  Park at the George F Nature Center located at 27305 Palos Verdes Dr E, Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274

There are two options to start the hike, either at the main trailhead just off PV Drive East or from the Nature Center parking area.  The main trail is wide enough to push a stroller or is easy navigated for those less sure footed.  From Start to Finish the trail is about 3/4 mile (from the PV Drive East parking lot) but the last part of the trail climbs up to chaparral lane and is quite steep. Along the main trail there is a guided nature walk that points out interesting facts about the flora and fauna in the area.  In the winter and spring, there is a seasonal creek that flows along the trail that adds to the sense of adventure for the little ones.  For those who want to push on to the end of the trailhead, you’ll reach a nice vantage point dubbed the Elderberry Lookout, which is situated 400 above sea level and get’s you high enough to capture the view out into the LA basin.  With the kids we usually turn around at the bridge which is about 5/8 mile from the main trailhead.  

There are a couple bonuses about this hike that should be mentioned.  If you are ambitious and want a much longer adventure, you can continue up Chapparal Lane turn right up Cayuse Lane, then continue to Martingale Lane and link up to the Martingale trailhead which leads into Rolling Hills.  From there you can connect to that trail system that will give you miles of options.

Another thing you don’t want to miss is the nature center.  Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from (check hours before you go), they have two king snakes and a couple lizards on display as well as other hands on displays about the wildlife in the area.  Our kids love seeing the snakes (they are found in the Canyon) and the guess who’s poop display (you have to be there to appreciate it).  They also organize family, full moon and bird hikes several times a year. Visit pvplc.org for more info about the guided walks and to download a trail map and guide.

Finally, a few words of caution; this part of the hill can heat up so this is one you’ll want to do early or late in the day.  Also be very cautious when it comes to walking off trail as there’s plenty of poison oak to turn this adventure into a small disaster.  

This a great place to see the diversity of our local environment so get out there and enjoy it!

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