Abalone Cove Trail to Olmstead Trail

Distance 1.8 mi
Time 1 hrs
Elevation Gain 165 ft
Season Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Hike Info Hiker Info

Abalone Cove Reserve is a perfect hike option for all ages in Palos Verdes Peninsula. The highlights of this trail are the breathtaking ocean views, serene picnic spots and tidal pool exploration. It’s important to check tide charts before you go, because optimal tidal pool exploration will be during low tide. While the overall milage isn’t taxing, the initial descent from the trail head to the beach is sandy and loose, so it’s best to wear appropriate traction sneakers or hiking boots. The tidal pools are rocky and can be waded into for exploration, so in that case pack some water shoes in your backpack. Make sure to stop into the Ranger station upon entry (located right next to the Abalone Parking lot entry) as they have some great color print guides to help identify marine life that can be found on the beaches below. The entry also offers bathrooms and a water fountain. 

Abalone Cove (named after the Abalone Shell) is part of the Abalone Cove Ecological Reserve, which features various short trails as well as coastal access that spans over 109 acres. The tidal pools are found at the base of Portuguese Point. This State Ecological Reserve has two 2 beaches, Abalone and Sacred Cove. During our visit the coastal access from Abalone to Sacred Cove was closed due to unsafe falling rock conditions. 

The hike begins easily next to the parking lot, and the trail head is clearly marked. If you want to plan a picnic, there are multiple picnic tables under the shade of trees, with fantastic cliff views of the ocean. 

The hike begins as an easy dirt and gravel walkway through tall grasses and wild flowers.  You’ll see a plethora of birds. lizards and during our late afternoon trip ground squirrels. Afterward you will begin the descent down to the beach and tidal pools. Plan for 15 – 20 minutes of hiking before you reach the beach.  Take caution stepping on any loose sandy soil.

The descent down Abalone Trail is quiet with pleasant sea breezes and fresh air. During spring you’ll find lots of wildflowers along the way, as well as blooming cactus succulents. At every turn you are surrounded by brilliant blue sky and ocean.
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After your descent you’ll arrive at the Abalone Cove beach, which is just a short walk to the tidal pools at the base of Portuguese Point. You can continue your hike along the beach or via the Sea Dahlia trail. During my visit the Sea Dahlia Trail was closed due to falling rock. Expect that your beach hike will include areas with loose and wet sand and other areas with large boulders and small rocks. Kids will have fun climbing on rocks.

The Ranger (at the station) informed me that it’s possible to do this hike on the beach even during high tide, it’s just most optimal for sea life and tidal pools at low tide.

With your tidal pool guide (from the Ranger Station) you can begin exploring the tidal pools, an especially fun experience for children. We were able to spot Hermit Crabs, Periwinkles and Sea Anemones.

Remember that Abalone Cove is a protected area, so there isn’t any rock collecting allowed. Consider another spot to picnic down on the beach near the tidal pools. 

Rather than return back up the Abalone Trail we decided to ascend via the Olmstead Trail. The Olmstead trail weaves and winds uphill, with a very large stable gravel path, flowering succulents and coastal views. 

The Olmstead Trail ends at gates that lead directly to Palos Verdes Boulevard South. In order to get back to the parking lot you’ll need to complete a short walk along the roadway. While not an especially lovely finale to an otherwise stunning hike, it’s a flat and easy to walk with sidewalks protecting you from any road traffic.

Exiting the parking lot is simple and you must pay for your parking fee at the exit gate with a credit card or debit card. After 4pm, there are no Rangers on site, but that doesn’t cause any issue paying or leaving the lot, as the exit is fully automated.

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Accommodations near Abalone Cove Trail to Olmstead Trail

Trail Conditions

The trail is well marked and in good condition, trail guides are available from the Abalone Cove Park office located in the Parking lot/entrance. There were some portions of the beach and tide pool area closed for public safety due to falling rocks and unstable cliffs above. Despite these closures it is still possible to hike and explore.

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How to Get There

From Los Angeles take Palos Verdes Drive South, which once you enter into Palos Verdes is a beautiful curving scenic drive. The address for Abalone Cove Park is: 5970 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275. You'll find gated paid parking which is open from 9am - 4pm. The first 30 minutes are free, 30 minutes - 2 hours costs $6, over 2 hours is $12. Seniors 62+ and Handicapped are FREE year-round. Parking is paid at the gate with a credit or debit card.

Driving Directions

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