Friendship Park – Ocean Trails Reserve

I return to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, home to panoramic views and scenic rocky beaches. The wildflowers were out of control today.  New life and fresh beginnings bring hope.
Hiking Distance: Around 7 miles

Driving Directions: I started out in Santa Monica and drove east on Lincoln Blvd., sticking with it for many miles.  Near LAX Lincoln Blvd. becomes Sepulveda Blvd.  Keep on Sepulveda for many more miles until you reach a right turn for Palos Verdes Dr.  Eventually, as one leaves Palos Verdes and enters San Pedro, Palos Verdes Blvd. becomes W 25th St. From W 25th St., turn left on Western Ave. and drive north one mile. Turn left on 9th St. The road goes left up to Friendship Park. There’s a vehicle gate. A sign says the park opens at 7 a.m. but I arrived around 6:30 a.m.and it was being unlocked. At the top of the hill take the first right into the Nature Center parking lot.


I began the day with a panoramic morning view of Long Beach Harbor.  Photo 2 – Close-up of Vincent Thomas Bridge

             I spotted a trail at the end of the parking lot. My plan was to cut across Friendship Park and then down to W 25th St., cross over and pick up the trail on the eastern border of Ocean Trails Reserve. I followed trails uphill, first south than west. There are a few options to get to the park’s western border. I took the upper, center trail which is wide and easy to navigate. I kept going west.


If you hate yellow flowers this is not the trail for you.  Also, what’s wrong with you?

             I found myself at a grassy field and headed to the top. There is a kiosk in the upper corner.  At this point the park is next to a street and bordered by houses.


Photo 2 – Looking back across Friendship Park.

   A shot of super windy Palos Verdes Dr. East.  Another nature reserve, San Ramon, sits below and a trail runs right next to the road.

Heading downhill, the trail was swallowed by a sea of flowers.

             I dropped straight between walls of live plants. The eastern end of Ocean Trails Reserve soon came into view.

Right next door is Point Fermin, with it’s historic lighthouse, and Angels Gate Park, with it’s distinctive pavilion which houses the Korean Friendship Bell.

             Photo 1 – This was crazy. Flowers standing a couple feet over my head. In one section the tops weaved together and I was completely engulfed.  Photo 3 – In no time I made it down to W 25th St. Morning traffic was very busy. Instead of dashing across I decided to walk east to the next stoplight at Anchovy and cross there.


Once I crossed I headed back west.  The trail leading into Ocean Trails Reserve is right off the road.


Photos 3 and 4 – A boat just offshore – Is that a man out on the water?  Who is he and what’s he standing on?


At bluff’s edge I made a right turn and headed upcoast on a wide, fenced-in trail.


Along the way there are three or four trails of varying difficulty that lead down to the water.


The trail made a sudden turn north on a very steep grade. The steps were helpful but each was rather high. This is a short but strenuous climb.  At the top the trail levels out. It’s easy going from here.


   Trail dogs never fail to make me smile. They always look so happy to be outside.

             Photo 1 – Some kind of radar sits atop a nearby hill. The one on the left looks like Godzilla’s golf ball.  Photo 3 – One of the trails in the reserve is named Gnatcatcher Trail. I believe this little bird is a gnatcatcher.


   I came to another beach access trail. This one had some intense switchbacks.


Looking back at the switchback trail.


Photos 2 and 3 – There are a couple of little bridges that cross over gullies.  Photo 4 – My turnaround point was the western end of Trump National Golf Course. The trail runs right next to the course. I passed a little knoll where players tee off.


Photo 2 – I reached the end of the course and a large clubhouse. Just in front (south) is a grassy area, I believe owned by the city, called Founder’s Park. There is a very short loop, benches and picnic tables.


Photo 1 – Artistic bike racks  Photo 4 – On the little loop

At the far end of the loop is an awesome view of Portuguese Bend and the three points west.


The furthest is Long Point, former home to a marine animal park called Marineland.  Now Terranea Resort occupies the space.

Portuguese Point and it’s large seacave on the left, Inspiration Point on the right.

             I ate lunch at one of the picnic tables in Founder’s Park. After, I took the closest beach access trail.


I made my way out onto the rocky shoreline.

        Just before the entrance to the beach there’s a little lookout.  I climbed to the top.


   Views from the lookout

   I hiked back up to the main trail and started back.  I noticed an overgrown trail heading in the direction of the knoll I passed earlier. I took it and paid a price as I was jabbed repeatedly by spiky thistle.


The knoll


Views from the knoll

        Never having played golf, I was impressed that it took this man only three swings to get out of the sand trap.



Cactus has such lush, pretty flowers.

        Instead of returning to the beach via the super steep trail, I stayed straight on one that was basically level.  Again I had to hike through dense growth.  Photo 2 – Adding a bit of variety to all that yellow was this patch of orange nasturtiums.

Flower Power!


   I reached W 25th St. again and quickly crossed over. I was feeling fatigued now and I just didn’t feel like hauling myself up the steep hill I came down in the morning. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, it’s the only trail that leads back into Friendship Park. I decided to stick to the streets, hiking down W 25th St. for about a mile, and then up Western Ave. for a mile more.  This began pleasant enough, with an occasional flash of color or interesting symmetry.

             But the rest of the way was strip malls, foxtails and exhaust fumes. Not the best way to end a hike but necessary for me on this day.

   As I climbed I noticed the white dome that once housed the Spruce Goose. To it’s left, a couple of the Queen Mary’s red smokestacks.


Near the entrance to the parking lot I came across two of the more interesting looking flowers I saw on the day.

This was a fun day.  Palos Verdes Peninsula always delivers great hikes.

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