Ocean Trails Ecological Reserve consists of about 4+ miles of trail adjacent to the Trump National Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes. The trails, lined with coastal sage, cacti and other native vegetation, wind along the cliff side with various paths also leading down to the rocky shore below. This area has been preserved and restored with natural habitat for the endangered California gnatcatcher.
There are a number of different trails to explore depending on how much ground you want to cover. Give yourself ample time to explore the area and be sure to also take some extra time to venture down to the tide pools along the beach. If you plan your trip during low tide, this is a great location to spot local birds and sea life including sea stars, sea anemone, and sometimes even sea lions.
If you’re hiking between January and April, definitely bring some binoculars. This is a prime time for spotting whales during their migration. There have been sightings of Gray Whales, Sperm Whales, Humpback Whales, Blue Whales, Fin Whales, and Minke Whales. Occasional rare glimpses include Pygmy Sperm Whales, Pilot Whales, Killer Whales, False Killer Whales, Cuviers Beaked Whales, and Stegnegers Beaked Whales.
The Sagebrush Trail includes a small picnic area with an amazing panoramic view of the ocean and trademark geology of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. This is a beautiful location to have lunch. The overlook features two benches and a large 4-6 person picnic table with a trash can for easy disposal.
The Gnatcatcher Trail veers from the coast and heads inland. From this vantage point there is a nice view down into the canyons.
Along the Catalina Trail, the views cannot be beat. On a clear day Catalina Island can be seen across the narrow channel. At the end of the Catalina Trail you’ll arrive at the golf course club house. Here you’ll find restrooms and a large grassy area that includes a few picnic tables.
View the Trail Map (PDF) for additional routes to discover.
Distance: 4.4 miles
Elevation gain: 100 feet
Suggested time: 1-3 hours
Best season: Year-round (especially January through April for whale watching)