The Terranea Bluff Top Trail is adjacent to the Alta Vicente Reserve, located in Palos Verdes, California. This is a trail that you will return to time and time again. It’s breathtaking, well maintained and an all-around show stopper. The Terranea Bluff Top Trail is my first choice to take guests to when I have visitors, and as an added bonus the parking is free. The 180-degree views rival the beauty you would expect in the Italian Riviera … but right here in Los Angeles!
The trail sign at the parking lot informs you that the trail is part of the California Coastal trail. In 1976 voters approved the California Coastal Act, with the goal of protecting the state’s coastline from overdevelopment. The Act also created the California Coastal Conservancy, which gives the public access to the coastline. Once completed, the California Coastal Trail (CCT) will span 1,200 miles from the Oregon to Mexico boundary lines. Despite being a part of CCT, all trail marker signs (which snake through the Terranea Resort), call it the Bluff Top trail.
Since the Terranea Bluff Top Trail runs though the luxury Terranea resort it’s very well maintained. The trail is sandy and rocky but not loose, and the ascent and descent areas have accessible options to either stay on the trail or use wooden stairs with handrails. No descent is too steep, so would be a good choice for older or younger hikers. There are plenty of benches and picnic areas along the way, as well as whale watching spotting scopes. The trail ends at Terranea Cove, a small rocky beach that offers Terranea Beach Adventures. You can get guided tours or lessons for kayaking, paddleboarding and archery, and you don’t have to be a resort guest to take advantage.
The trail begins right off the parking lot just look for wooden Bluff Top Trail markers and follow the arrows.
This trail offers a lot of spots to picnic and benches to relax and enjoy the bluff top views.
You’ll begin the hike on the bluff top surrounded by tall grasses, succulents, wildflowers, and coastal sage scrub. At this high elevation you’ll see plenty of hawks, ravens and sea birds soaring. I also saw wild rabbits and lizards.
The hike then gradually descends and winds in front of the Terranea Resort hotels rooms and restaurants.
At a point you will need to break off the gravel trail and walk briefly through a paved section of the resort.
You’ll wind down the trail and pass through a few areas with stair access.
After .8 miles you’ll find yourself at the Terranea Cove beach. A small rocky beach, on a full sun warmer day you may find a few people dipping into the water, but it’s very rocky. There are no life guards on duty. There are some Adirondack chairs to lounge and watch the sea. On clear days you can see the Channel Islands.
Terranea Cove is also the location of Terranea Beach Adventures, as well as a snack bar. You don’t have to be a guest at Terranea Resorts to use these services you can take lessons or a guided tour of Terranea Cove with paddleboards or kayaks, or even learn archery.
After you explore Terranea Cove you’ll simply turn around and hike the same trail back to the parking lot. The return trip is more of an ascend so if you’re hiking at a steady pace, it can be a pretty good workout. In the mornings and evenings you’ll see locals using the trail for running.
Terranea Bluff Top Trail is a gorgeous hike worth checking out, truly stunning vistas, free parking and clean bathrooms.