A Walk in the Parks


Nature is a concept or place that too often people think of as a far-off destination. One may think they have to commit significant time and energy to find nature. Nature, however, is all around us, everywhere we look, smell, hear, and feel, and nowhere is that more true than in Rancho Palos Verdes, a city abounding in beauty, nature, majestic views, and parks.

The parks of Rancho Palos Verdes are full of wonders, clearly visible to those who take the time to look.

Have you ever happened upon a seam of barite or quartz? Seen the distant spout of a migrating gray whale? Looked oceanward during a brisk evening walk to spy a sunset with colors beyond description?

Strolled through dozens of indigenous and often endangered plants? All of these sights and sensations can be found right here in Rancho Palos Verdes, where nature in all its glory is present.

Cliffside Pleasure: Point Vicente Interpretive Center

Point Vicente Interpretive Center offers breathtaking ocean vistas and a chance to see the magnificent gray whale’s migration from December to mid-April. If no massive marine mammals are readily visible, then a pleasant, breezy stroll along comfortable walking trails affords chance encounters with pelicans and sea birds gliding by at eye-level. The relaxing atmosphere of this coastal jewel encourages you to appreciate such unique plants such as Queen Anne’s Lace, Ceanothus, and poppies in an immaculately maintained native- plant garden. Stop by for a sunset that is perhaps unrivalled in all of Southern California for consistent beauty. If nature inspires you to take home a memento of your coastal visit, or you want to learn more about the gray whale, and the history, culture, and geography of the Palos Verdes Peninsula then definitely stop in at the Interpretive Center and gift shop after your walk. Docent-led tours are available by calling 310-544-5264.

A Rugged Walk: Abalone Cove Shoreline Park
Upcoming Public Tide Pool Walks (PDF)

Abalone Cove Shoreline Park is a Federal preserve and not only can you enjoy the beach, but you can see sea urchins, sea stars, sea hares, and anemones in a pristine tidepool setting. Views are magnificent and Catalina Island is clearly visible from this site. Take the trail to the beach and keep an eye out for red-tailed hawks and American kestrels dotting the horizon. There is a multitude of plants that bloom and wither depending on the season and time of day, making each visit a fresh adventure. Look for morning glories, bush sunflowers, lemonade berry bushes, fennel, cliff asters, and beavertail cacti, mustard, and prickly lettuce. Please remember that the tidepools maintain their stunning bio-diversity only through proper care and respect. Look, but don’t touch or take. The next visitor will thank you silently for your concern. Docent-led hikes are available; call 310-544-5264.

Take a Hike: Ladera Linda Community Center and Forrestal Hiking Trails

If you aren’t a fan of beautiful views, majestic canyons, magnificent foliage, and crisp, clean air then Ladera Linda Community Center and the accompanying Forrestal hiking trails are not for you. This often over-looked gem on the south side of the Peninsula is located just off Palos Verdes Drive South. Ladera Linda, a former elementary school site, has been an actively staffed park since 1982. Docent-guided tours and hikes into the hills are available where one may see red-tailed hawks, wild rabbits, threatened plants and animals such as coastal sage scrub, cactus wren, the California Gnatcatcher, and the rufus-sided toe hee. Look for lemonade berry bushes, wild fennel, coyote bush and mustard and explore, but don’t take, the clusters of calcite, barite, quartz and ancient fish fossils.

After your hike, visit Ladera Linda's Discovery Room and its extensive collection of samples of the area's geology and wildlife.  Ladera Linda also features a walking trail with tremendous views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina in the distance.  For a docent-led hike, call 310-544-5264.

 Park of a Thousand Faces: Fred Hesse Jr. Community Park

The charms of Hesse Park are diverse. Not only is there a community building available for a multitude of activities, but playgrounds, picnic facilities, jogging paths, playing fields, hiking trails and spectacular views make this a popular outdoor site. As you traverse the many acres of the varied terrain and hike the trails of the newly developed lower area, look closely and discover the ever-repeating patterns of nature. Note the California poppies, lupine, scarlet flax, Pride of Madeira and lemon eucalyptus. Take time to gaze at the silent hawks and hummingbirds. Enjoy the sounds and faces of laughing children or the quiet of a lone jogger. Contemplate families enjoying a picnic. Reflect as you enjoy the view. Marvel again at the diversity of this park, and plan to visit often.

Aging Gracefully: Robert E. Ryan Park

Back in 1973 when the City was first incorporated, the only park that existed in the City was Rancho Palos Verdes Park, now known as Ryan Park. The spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean from this park will capture your imagination and the picnic areas under the canopy of mature trees will draw you like a magnet. This is an ideal spot to see children playing, relax, enjoy a good book, and contemplate nature.

The Roads Less Traveled: Eastview, Del Cerro and Vanderlip Parks

These parks are not staffed, but they offer immense charm and opportunity for the nature novice and seasoned expert alike.

Families who enjoy a pleasant patch of grass and a tranquil picnic should make a beeline for Eastview Park off Western at Westmont. Modern play equipment makes this site especially attractive to children, and dog lovers seem to love it too! Please remember, though, that RPV has a leash law in effect at all its parks.

Lovers of an unspoiled view should visit Del Cerro Park. Perched at the top of the Peninsula near the intersection of Crenshaw and Crest, Del Cerro is an ideal spot for strolling or reading a book on a quiet afternoon.

Coastal walkers on the trails west of Palos Verdes Drive South will be pleasantly surprised to happen upon the half-acre park known as Vanderlip Park. Pack a picnic and enjoy the panoramic vista and the natural look of the drought-resistant foliage.