Prickly Pear Trail

Alta Vicente Reserve (Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA)


Narrow dirt trail going steeply down, paddle-like cactus immediately on each site. A tree or bush grows just past the cacti on the left. In the distance, past a brown field, trees, and a road, you can see the wide green grass of a golf course, a line of trees, a line of roofs, and beyond them the ocean and a blue sky.A hill runs diagonally downward to the right, with low bushes nearby. In the middle distance is an expanse of green grass. Beyond it: several coves and promonitories with seaside cliffs, with a gentle hill sloping up to the left, the dark blue ocean looking calm below an empty blue sky.

Nice views of the ocean, Point Vicente Lighthouse and (on clear days) Catalina island. Short loop within Alta Vicente Reserve but with some steep sections. Keep your balance! This actually goes through a thick grove of prickly pear cactus at one point – downhill if you go clockwise! Today it was well-maintained, but I read that it can get badly overgrown at times. Not much shade except where it goes through was appears to be an abandoned farm.

A promonotory, roughly triangular or trapezoidal, with the ocean beyond it and a road curving along the near side, separating it from dry brown grass and low green scrub. The point is lined with bushes and dotted with palm trees. A handful of low white buildings with red roofs are scattered around, and a narrow lighthouse tower is just visible next to one of the palm trees.Two-wheeled metal contraption with a trailer hitch, rusting in dry grass. A stand of castor bean plants is silhouetted in the background by a blue sky.

You have to take the Alta Vicente and/or Nike trails to get to it. Park up at the city hall, go to the grassy park area, and look for the brick cube with the plaque. Rock-marked dirt trails lead off to the nature reserve.

The Alta Vicente trail, at least, allows bicycles and horses, though parts are a bit steep for cycling in my opinion. And I wouldn’t recommend biking downhill through the prickly pear grove, or riding a horse through it in either direction!

Located at 30940 Hawthorne Boulevard – Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90272

View on OpenStreetMap.