The Burma Road Trail is a 4.7 miles long out-and-back trip. It winds through the Portuguese Bend Reserve, which is part of the 1,400 acres Palos Verdes Nature Preserve, just south of the Filiorum Reserve. You’ll hike through steep canyons, rolling golden hills with wildflowers and have the opportunity to see local native birds all with breathtaking cliff views of the Pacific Ocean. This is a very popular trail, well maintained, wide and used by hikers, bikers, dog-walkers as well as equestrians. The trail is moderately difficult and has fantastic cliff views of the ocean the whole way.
During our visit the last .25 miles of Burma Road Trail was closed due to maintenance repair work. While we did see hikers ignoring the sign, you can be cited so follow the guidelines of the Reserve. At various time you will see portions of trails closed, sometimes due to significant rainfall, or for habitat or erosion protection. If you want to add on to the Burma Road Trail, (which is the main thoroughfare) there are many other trails that branch off and connect with this main trail.
The Burma Road Trail begins at the entrance to the Portuguese Bend Reserve off of Crenshaw Boulevard. You’ll find the Burma Road Trail well marked with signs with arrows at any juncture where it meets with other trails within the reserve.
The entire trail is downhill, but the descent is gradual, making the trek not too difficult. However, keep in mind that means the way back is entirely uphill, so pace yourself accordingly. There is almost no cover from the sun, make sure to plan on wearing hats and sunscreen, or opt for partly cloudy days if you are not agreeable to two hours of full sun.
There are some great spots to bring your binoculars or to take photos of the amazing vistas. Due to the uneven rocks and loose dusty soil along the Burma Road Trail it’s important to wear solid hiking sneakers or hiking boots.
The Burma Road trail is wide which makes passing other hikers or bikers easy. With so many miles of trails the Portuguese Bend Reserve didn’t feel overly crowded — even on a holiday weekend.
About .5 mile from the entrance to the Portuguese Reserve you’ll find a couple of portable toilets available if needed.
Portuguese Bend Reserve is known for having lovely wildflowers in winter and spring. During our trip there were some flowers, but most of the surrounding hills and valleys were dried, giving the landscape a golden and silvery metallic tone. There are some scattered trees and shrubs as well, although very limited shade along the trail.
Portuguese Bend Reserve is known as a great spot for bird watching. Signs within the park mention that it is a habitat for the Cactus Wren and California Gnatcatcher and provide photographs to help you identify them. Generally it’s best to spot birds in the early or later parts of the day.
The sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean make this such a must see trail. On clear days you will be able to see Catalina Island. Some of Portuguese Bend Reserve is regenerating from wildfires with new growth such as Prickly Pear Cactus and native Lemonade Berry plants.
The trail is a popular choice for horseback riding and we saw several horses during our hike. There are options if you want to book a horseback riding excursion.
The final .25 miles of the Burma Road trail was closed, so we ended our trail just over 2 miles. Since this is a one way trail, we turned around for the return trip.
The return trip is a solid 2 miles of uphill hiking. While it is not overly steep, it will be more of a challenge, and an opportunity to really break a sweat. Full sun will make this more challenging. The Burma Road Trail is absolutely worth checking out, and we can’t wait to return again. The distance and ascent make it moderately challenging. A better choice for older kids rather than young due to the stamina required. A great spot for families to mountain bike as well. We spotted a lot of electric hybrid mountain bike riders on our hike.