The hills of Rancho Palos Verdes have become one of my favorite places for coastal hiking in California. Of course, there is the epic shipwreck hike, but if you are looking for something relatively easy and family friendly then check out the stunning Abalone Cove Reserve with its miles of trails, beaches and tide pools. Here is all the information.
- 2 miles
- 400 feet of elevation change
- $6 for 2 hours of parking, $12 for more than two hours
- Location: 5970 Palos Verdes Dr S, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Abalone Cove Reserve is located right on Palos Verdes Dr, which is the main road that hugs the coast of Rancho Palos Verdes. There is a turnout for it on the left, right after passing Wayfarers Chapel (coming from Long Beach). The parking lot has a decent amount of spots, but it can quickly fill on the weekends in the summer so get there early if you go at that time.
This trail can be as short or as long as you like. If you don’t want to hike, you can simply walk down to the beach and just enjoy the water, it’s an easy 10-minute walk.
I opted to explore as much of the area as I could though while I was there, so this hike takes you over the main trails and lets you see the entire reserve. The trail begins by heading down to the beach mentioned above.
When you get down to the sand, you will walk along the beach to the lookout in front of you.
This is a fantastic beach and a beautiful area; there was even a small waterfall created by runoff that was fun to see.
After reaching the end of the beach you will see a dirt road that takes you up the hillside, this is the path you will want to take.
The dirt road winds around the hill before eventually dropping you off at Portugues Viewpoint.
From here you can head back the way you came or continue down into the fantastic Sacred Cove.
Heading on from here you will take the steep Cave Trail as it leads down the side of the hill to the coast below. This trail is sandy and steep so take your time.
When you reach the bottom, you can head out to the end where there is a sea cave and tide pools.
The sea cave actually goes through the entire rock but be careful as the waves come rushing through and it is dangerous to go swimming near it.
If you get your feet wet, you can go out to the tides pools, or you can keep hiking the trail. The trail from here runs along the coast all the way to the other side of the cove.
This beach is perfect, and my recommendation is to come over to this side if you are spending the day here as fewer people make the trek.
The beach has a unique black sand that makes it amazing to explore as well.
Heading around the cove you will want to walk out to the edge of this area as well as there are more tide pools to see. I saw sea urchins and anemones while there.
At the end, there is another cave right on the point.
After exploring this area, head back to the small single track trail you passed on the hillside and start making your way up. It is a steep climb but just take your time.
As you near the top, you will see a trail that takes you up to Inspiration Point.
I highly recommend hiking up here as the views are mind blowing. You can look at the Portuguese Bend in one direction and back at Sacred Cove in the other.
I spent at least 15 minutes up here just exploring and taking it all in.
After you finish, head back the way you came and up to the road you drove in on. This is the path I recommend taking back as it is much flatter then going down to the coves again.
This path also takes you to the Smuggler’s Lookout. While not as impressive as the other two, it is still a fun spot to look out from.
Also, on the way back to your car, along the dirt path next to the road, you will pass Wayfarers Chapel.
You can cross the street here and see the chapel as well if you would like but be VERY careful as traffic can go fast in this section and there is no crosswalk.
You can also just go back to your car and then drive over and see the chapel. Either way, you should make sure you visit it though as it is amazing and so close.
On the way back to the car you will also pass a small turnout that has plaques dedicated to the area you just explored for you to read as well.
All in all, this is a fantastic place for a beach day or some coastal hiking. It’s hard to think of better views in Southern California, and I highly recommend you add it to your list. Let me know if you have been in the comments and what you thought.