The White Point Nature Preserve features 102 acres of restored coastal sage scrub habitat. It’s a beautiful place to hike with trails overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island. Some trails are also handicap accessible. The Preserve is home to the Nature Education Center, which is housed in a repurposed historic Cold War assembly building. Opened in May 2010, the center serves as a resource for students, families, and community groups from all over Los Angeles.
The preserve, now owned by the City of Los Angeles, was once the hunting and gathering grounds for the Tongva people, the first society to call the peninsula home.The Tongva hunted the lush land that was teeming with grasses and wildlife, and fished and collected abalone in the ocean below.
When the Spanish arrived in the area in the mid-16th century, the Tongva’s wild land was transformed into cattle ranches. The Spanish ranch land was eventually sold off and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, White Point supported farming and a fishing industry run by Japanese immigrants. The Spanish ranching and Japanese farming activities introduced non-native invasive habitat into the area which nearly obliterated White Point’s native wildlife.
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the farming industry came to a near halt when local Japanese-Americans were forced from the peninsula into internment camps, and White Point was turned into a military defense position. The U.S. military built a small battery with two 16-inch anti-aircraft guns on the site. After the war, the guns were scrapped, but during the Cold War in the 1950’s the military used the property as a Nike missile site to defend the L.A. Harbor from soviet Union air attacks. It was decommissioned in 1975 and deeded to the City of Los Angeles in 1978.
In 2001, the City looked to the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy for help in managing the restoration of White Point Preserve into what it is today.
Across the street from the preserve is White Point Park. With its dramatic views of Catalina Island and the many boats and ships sailing in and out of the Port of Los Angeles, it’s a photographer’s dream. There are several plaques in the park commemorating the history and providing information about the natural history and geography of the area. A play area with equipment for children is located here. The beach and tide pools of Royal Palms County Beach lie below the cliffs and can be accessed by a short walk or drive down the paved road.
The Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy hosts nature walks throughout the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Check our South Bay Events Calendar for upcoming events and hikes. The PVPLC also hosts a Native Plant Sale every 4th Saturday at the White Point Nature Education Center.
WHITE POINT PARK
1600 W. Paseo del Mar
San Pedro, CA 90731
The Preserve is open daily from dawn to dusk.
The Center is open from 10am to 4pm on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.
The parking area is open daily from dawn until dusk. Parking is available in the lot accessed from the west end Paseo del Mar from sun up to sun down during Preserve hours. Please note that due to the landslide, access to White Point Nature Preserve is via Western Avenue.
White Point Landslide
On November 20, 2011 a 600-foot section of Paseo Del Mar, as well as a small portion of the White Point Nature Preserve, slid southward down the cliffside toward the ocean below, moving about 53 feet. This area had been under investigation by the City’s Bureau of Engineering since July 2010, due to observed tension cracks and distressed pavement. Following the collapse, LA City hired a private geotechnical firm to study the groundwater levels and movement of the area around the landslide.
Landslides have wreaked havoc throughout the Palos Verdes Peninsula over the years. In 1999, the 17th and 18th holes of what was then Ocean Trails Golf Club fell into the sea in a slide that would eventually contribute to the course being sold in foreclosure to Donald Trump in what would become Trump National Golf Club. In 1929, a neighborhood in San Pedro slid toward the ocean, now known as Sunken City.