Palos Verdes Hiking- Amazing California Coastal Pathways

Palos Verdes Brian Campbell

At the southernmost extreme of Los Angeles County lies the Palos Verdes Peninsula on the California coastal trail. A nice walk along the Palos Verdes peninsula is one of the most scenic segments of the coastal trail.

Formed over millions of years of geological history this peninsula was underwater as recently as 120 thousand years ago. A local archeological dig here would reveal everything from giant shark’s teeth to extinct whale bones, giant bison, mammoths and even saber-toothed cats.

Recently a new species of sperm whale was discovered on the north side of the hill at Chadwick school. Locally, Palos Verdes is an extraordinary source of fossiles second only to the world famous La Brea Tar Pits nearby. The local Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy are a non-profit land trust that has been working with the city of Rancho Palos Verdes for over 25 years to preserve public lands on this peninsula. The Conservancy’s mission also includes efforts to preserve areas of open space and restoration of natural habitats for the ongoing education and enjoyment of all Southern California residents and visitors.

Visitors who come to the Palos Verdes nature preserve will find abundant open trails and existing and so for the most part, we were able to delineate the routes of the coastal trail through the preserves and and put the appropriate signage and emblem in place to denote them.

Hikers familiar with the California coastal trail consistently rank this section as one of the most dramatic scenic ocean views in the state. Toward this end, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy, was founded by a small group of people who had a vision that they wanted to preserve this dramatic natural wonder before it gets encroached on by regional development.

Currently there are about 1,600 acres preserved on the Peninsula, including segments along the coastal walk where people can experience the recently-restored habitats for native fauna; birds, reptiles, insects and mammals. This will assure future generations can see both what California may have been like hundreds of years ago and that they can have that direct one-on-one experience.

Spring and Autumn hikers can experience the full flora blooms with the Astor-family drought deciduous sunflowers- these flower leaves shrivel in the summertime . There is also the Purple Sage produce a lot of seeds, attracting various species of land and sea birds .

Green shrub is a coyote brush or a backers plant and hikers can also see and smell the sagebrush artemisia, which is really fragrant and one of the main plants within the coastal sage scrub plant community.

Although many of these coastal plants make an attractive and fragrant impact- hikers are asked not to take any of these native decorative plants from where they came .

Hikers are also cautioned against feeding the local animals and several of the insect species here are notable for their unique chemical defenses. Unique butterfly species include the Palos Verdes blue butterfly and the El Segundo blue leather butterfly, both of which dwell here on the coast of the peninsula and north as far as LAX – but found nowhere else in the world.

Keep in mind that the local animals and insects have a very specific relationships with the native plants, so the Palos Verdes blue butterfly, for example, only feeds on two related plants, astragalus and deer weed or Lotus cabarrus.

The El Segundo blue butterfly only feeds on costal buckwheat- it is easy to see how too many visitors taking too many local plants home could impact the local fauna ecology.

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