When you’ve exhausted the options that are walking distance from your backdoor, it’s time to jump in
the car and change up the scenery a bit. One of our favorite spots, especially in the fall and winter, is
the trail system in the Forrestal Ecological Reserve. With the kids, we usually keep to the lower trails,
but sans kids or with more experienced adventurers, you can really get some miles in.
Distance: Anywhere from 2-6 miles round trip depending on where you start and how far you want to
What to bring: Running or light hiking shoes, snacks for the kids, water bottle, sunscreen
Best time of year: Year round, but early morning and evenings are best when it’s hot.
Difficulty: Varying terrain, all dirt trail, with a steep section at the western end of the trail
Directions: Palos Verdes Drive South to Forrestal Drive. Park at the Ladera Linda Community Center
located at 32319 Forrestal Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes
Start by parking at the Ladera Linda Community center and either walk along the closed portion of
Forrestal drive, walk up the stairs and across the soccer fields, or start on the Quarry trail that climbs
steeply off of Forrestal Drive. We like to cross the soccer fields (this area is a great place to look for
lizards) and start on the Purple Sage Trail. Because we hike with little legs, we typically just take our
time and follow the trail signs to the Dauntless trail and then either the Vista Trail or the Exultant Trail.
Some areas are pretty steep so take your time, especially with loose dirt and gravel. If you want to
get some mileage in, take the Conqueror trail across Klondike Canyon (you can’t miss it – it’s the big
canyon to your right as you head west) to the Klondike Canyon trail and then either the Burma Road
trail or the Panorama trail which through many options will connect you into the Portuguese Bend
Reserve. If you want to keep it simple, stay on the Burma Road trail which will eventually take you to
Del Cerro Park (about 2.9 miles one way). This will involve about 800 feet of elevation change to Del
Cerro park so be ready for a workout.
If you want to stay in the Forrestal Reserve area, take the Purple Sage Trail to the Cactus trail.
Continue to the Canyon View trail which will eventually lead to the Flying Mane trail. That links up
with the Quarry trail thus looping back to where you parked at the Ladera Linda Community Center.
This hike is closer to 2 miles round trip if you don’t venture off on side trails. If you can’t remember all
these names or don’t want to bring this with you. Many of the trails are marked and with a little
common sense, you’ll have no trouble finding your way around.
The great thing about all the trail options is you can stop and soak up the amazing ocean views
looking south across San Pedro channel to Catalina Island. A couple words of caution, in the warmer
months, it’s not uncommon to see a rattler crossing the trail, so be on the lookout. Also, this area is
popular with mountain bikers so be alert, especially on the steeper trails.
So fill up your water bottle and get out there and spend some time in one the largest open space
areas on the Hill. Enjoy!