The Portuguese Bend Reserve took me by surprise – this beautiful coastal hike in the Southbay is a great option this time of year because the rain makes everything green and the wildflowers already started to bloom. The Portuguese Bend Reserve has a system of many interconnected trails with one main fire road (Burma Rd) that runs throughout the reserve.
Note: not all trails are open throughout the year – the Rim Trail we wanted to connect to for our loop is currently closed, likely due to rain/ potential mudslides
HIKE TO: Portuguese Bend Reserve TRAIL: Burma Rd > Peacock Flats Trail > Burma Rd > Ishibashi Trail > Burma Rd Loop MILES: 4 miles TIME: 1.5 hrs DATE I WENT: 3/6/20 DIFFICULTY: easy ELEVATION: 1181 ft ELEVATION GAIN/ LOSS: 728 ft HIKE PERMIT: no PET FRIENDLY: yes, on leash HOURS: closes an hour after sunset PARKING PERMIT: street, end of Crenshaw by Del Cerro Park (there is another entrance for private residence only) LOCATION: Palos Verdes, CA
The public/common entrance to the Portuguese Bend Reserve starts at the gate at the end of Crenshaw Blvd, next to Del Cerro Park (if you want coastal views without the hike, check out the park).
It was a rainy morning when we came, but with a couple of hours of clear skies in the mid-late afternoon, we opt outside to enjoy a pocket full of sunshine and the weather was perfect! We started just after 4 pm and finished our hike just before sunset. The hike started off sunny and warm, slightly breezy, and quickly turned cloudy and gloomy which worked out well because the trail is mostly exposed.
From Crenshaw and through the gate (pictured above), we started off on Burma Rd and took the first side trail on the right so we could avoid hiking on a fire road as much as possible. This trail runs almost parallel with Burma Rd and connects back to it shortly, with an extra added view and a narrow dirt trail that really makes you feel secluded (worth the slight detour).
About half a mile in, we took the Peacock Flats Trail which quickly started descending 147 ft in 0.26 miles, then turned right to rejoin Burma Rd. We saw many wildflowers, a bunch of wild cucumbers… and not a single other human hiking in our direction. Continue for 1.23 miles (411 ft downhill in 0.95 miles; 150 ft uphill in 0.28 miles) until you reach the boundaries of the Portuguese Bend Reserve.
The views are incredible: you can see Palos Verdes Dr, Portuguese Bend, and Sacred Cove and Abalone Cove from a distance. The vibrant turquoise color of the shore combined with the current wildflowers make for a spectacular view. I believe there is a trail that will lead you all the way down to the road so you can connect with the trails near the actual Portuguese Bend and Inspiration Point… but I’m not 100% sure. I know there is definitely trail access from Palos Verdes Dr S if you’re looking to hike to Inspiration Point, Sacred Cove, Portuguese Point, and Abalone Cove which I have yet to check out.
Once you are done soaking up the views, turn around and head back 0.6 miles on Burma Rd to Ishibashi Trail. This trail reconnects with the Burma Rd trail near the beginning and gains 413 ft in 0.91 mi. I’d highly recommend this to make a small loop instead of going all the way back the same way! It was nice to be on a narrower dirt trail as opposed to a wide fire road where everyone else was with better scenery too – don’t forget to look back at the views! We were lucky to witness a glimpse of the sun beginning to set.
This all made for a nice, easy 4-mile trail. I don’t think I would go here during summer simply because it will be dry, brown, and extremely exposed to sun and heat. It’s a great trail for family, beginners, and all of your friends that want a “beach hike” without actually being on the beach.
If you want to keep it simple, hike the Burma Rd trail from end to end (literally from one sign to the other); otherwise, feel free to follow my GPX below 🙂