Week 261: Palos Verdes Peninsula

March 13, 2022

 AllTrails Terranea Discovery Trail, 2.3 miles in-and-out.

It had been too long since Barbara and I hiked near the ocean, so we drove down to the South Bay for this gorgeous trek along the portion of the Palos Verdes Peninsula bordering the southern end of the Terranea Resort. Terranea is a popular, eco-friendly weekend/vacation destination that opened in 2009 with all the right amenities, but history and Mother Nature are the stars of this hike. The peninsula had been home to the Tongva Indians dating back 8,000 years until Spanish and then Mexican occupation. In 1846, a Mexican land grant formed Rancho de los Palos Verdes—"Ranch of the Green Sticks"—then the area fell into the hands of private ownership. Pre-Terranea, from 1954–1987 the section we hiked today had been the former site of Marineland of the Pacific, and from 1958–1961 the filming site for television's "Sea Hunt." Facing south over the Pacific with a panoramic, 270 degree view, in December and January this spot is one of the rare places in SoCal to watch the sun rise and set from a single vantage point. Barbara and I began hiking east (left) from the Pelican Cove & Terranea trailhead off Palos Verdes Drive South. Just as the name says, the saltbush lined Bluff Top Trail winds high over the ocean and it's impossible to take your eyes off the views stretching from Point Vincente Park in the West (R) to San Pedro in the South (L). Rest areas along the trail with signage and three telescopes note points of interest, including the best view of the annual whale migration to and from Baja. No whales today, but we did see a dolphin! Most historically notable was a distant view of the 1926 Point Vincente Lighthouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places, maintained by the Coast Guard, and haunted by the "Lady of the Light," its ghostly legend. Stopping for pix or just to take in the breathtaking view, we followed the AllTrails map to the end then made a short side trip to the beach at Terranea Cove for water and a snack on the deck chairs before heading back to the start point. Salt air, blue sky, crashing waves, rock formations, and stunning views filled the prescription for a Sunday morning escape. If you're fortunate enough to stay at Terranea, don't miss this hike. If you're in the South Bay and ache for a trip to the ocean—this hike is Mother Nature at her powerful best. So happy we did it!




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