The Rattlesnake Trail is located in the Filiorum Reserve in Rancho Palos Verdes. With many trails to choose from the 191-acre Filiorum Reserve links the Three Sisters and Portuguese Bend Reserves. The sweeping dramatic views offered from the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean make the Rattlesnake Trail a stunning hike for well seasoned hikers. While the trail offers plenty of ocean views there is no beach access. The ascent is challenging physically due to steep hills, but clocking in only 1.5 miles round trip it is rated Moderate. Rattlesnake Trail is not the hike to take small children or people with physical challenges, you need a solid level of fitness and stamina. The Rattlesnake Trail is narrow, with sheer drops making it unsafe to bring small children. We highly recommend this gorgeous trail, it will provide a good workout, photo opportunities as well fresh ocean breezes.
There is free street parking on a first come first serve basis further north on Crenshaw Boulevard. If you want to park at the Rattlesnake Trailhead you must reserve and pay for parking in advance by visiting www.RPVCA.gov/ParkMobile. We came on a holiday weekend but were still able to make reservations the same day of our hike. The Zone C Parking is directly in front of the Rattlesnake Trail head. You can reserve a 2 hour 45 minute a time slot based on availability and it’s tracked with your license plate number. The fee was $10.35. If you make a reservation on a weekday for a 7am – 8:45am time slot the parking is free. If you plan your visit for the weekend between 7pm and 9pm your fee is reduced to $6.35. The park is closed one hour before and one hour after sunset.
You should wear hiking boots or hiking sneakers due to the loose, dry soil, irregular rocks and steep descent. The trail can be done in all seasons but without much shade it’s best to avoid on very hot sunny days. In late winter/early spring the trail has beautiful wild flowers. The Rattlesnake Trail is a one way trail, we added another small trail after meeting up with a Rancho Palos Verdes staff member on the hike who suggested we check out the very short Eucalyptus Trail. The Eucalyptus Trail leads you through a small shaded canopy of Eucalyptus trees. After that addition, we hooked back up with the Rattlesnake Trail to exit. The trails in Filiorum Reserve are used for hikers, bikers, horseback riding as well as dog walking on a leash. The Rattlesnake Trail is best for hiking only, as it’s quite narrow compared to some other trails in the reserve.
The Rattlesnake Trail is a meandering but well maintained trail that descends, at some points quite dramatically. There are some irregular rocks and loose soil, so it’s best to take the descent slowly. During our visit the landscape was mixed between dried wildflowers and chaparral, as well as trees and shrubs.
Some parts of the trail border the edge of steep cliffs, while other parts wind through gentler hills. Remember not to stand near the edges of any cliffs as there are no rails present.
A small portion of the trail takes you through some slightly overgrown trees and brush.
Part of the dramatic beauty of this hike is that the Reserve has been sculpted by its proximity to the Palos Verdes Fault. You’ll see beautiful textural basalt formations.
At the end of Rattlesnake Trail we descended a short distance onto Gary’s Gulch Trail and then turned right onto the Eucalyptus Trail.
The Eucalyptus trail leads through a small Eucalyptus forest, you will enjoy some pleasant walking underneath the canopy of trees, which will be a welcome break on a warm day. At the end of the Eucalyptus Trail you will meet up briefly with the Kelvin Canyon Trail, make a right to lead you back toward Rattlesnake Trail. Kelvin Canyon Trail connects further south with the Portuguese Bend Reserve.
After a brief walk on Kelvin Canyon you will connect with the end of the Rattlesnake trail, which is marked clearly with trail signs. Take a sharp left to begin the ascend out of the park.
While the ascend is pretty tough you are rewarded with amazing views the whole way.
Finally you’ll exit right back onto Crenshaw Boulevard and if you scored a parking spot in Zone C, you’ll be back at your vehicle. A great hike to try with add ons depending on the time you are able to spend exploring this lovely reserve.
Tags: Cliffs, Eucalyptus Trees, Filiorum Reserve, geology, Ocean Views, Rancho Palos Verdes, wildflowers