On the southwest side of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Forrestal Nature Reserve protects 155-acres of green space on the cliffs above the Pacific. Within the park, Quarry Loop circles an old basalt quarry and provides tons of ocean views. The hike combines four trails (Quarry Trail, Basalt Trail, Mariposa Trail, and Pirate Trail) on a short 1.25-mile loop.
Walk through the yellow gate at the top of Forrestal Drive and look for the trailhead on the right at a gap in the fence (across from the drinking fountains). Hike twenty paces up the dirt single track to a junction where the loop begins. To the right, Pirate Trail climbs 325 feet over 0.3 miles to the high point of the loop. If you head that way, you’ll have to look over your shoulder to enjoy the coastal views. It is better to avoid the steep climb and hike down Pirate Trail after a gradual ascent up Quarry Trail, Basalt Trail, and Mariposa Trail. With this in mind, proceed to the left at the split onto Quarry Trail.
Quarry Trail takes you into a bowl-shaped quarry carved into the hillside. Look up at the steep eroding rock walls – you’ll be hiking on top of them soon. The trail curls out of the center of the old quarry and rises through sagebrush to offer electrifying views up the coast. Quarry Trail transitions into Basalt Trail and reaches a junction with Mariposa Trail, 0.4 miles from the start.
Turn right on Mariposa Trail and ascend to an overlook on the rim of the quarry. Take in the exceptional view of the Palos Verdes coastline before turning inland around the edge of the quarry into a riparian canyon. Cross the perennial stream at the back of the canyon and make a sharp turn toward the east rim of the quarry. As you climb to the high point of the loop, you will be in line for a lofty view of the quarry and the ocean beyond, including a silhouette of Catalina Island.
Stay to the left through two quick junctions to descend Pirate Trail and finish out the loop. The trail goes downhill fast, but the views don’t. Pirate Trail offers some of the best ocean vistas of the hike. No fee or permit is required to hike Quarry Loop in Forrestal Nature Reserve. Dogs are welcome, so get out and enjoy!
To get to the trailhead: From Los Angeles take the 405 or 110 Freeway south to the 405-110 interchange near Carson. Continue south on the 110 Freeway for 8 miles to the end of the freeway. Turn left on Gaffey Street and make the third right on First Street. After one mile, turn left on Western Avenue (Route 213) and drive 1.7 miles south to an intersection with West 25th Street. Turn right and drive 1.3 miles until 25th Street becomes Palos Verdes Drive. Continue another 0.9 miles and turn right on Forrestal Drive. Proceed 0.3 miles to the yellow gate at the top of the road and park. The trailhead is on the right, just past the gate.
Trailhead address: 32323 Forrestal Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Trailhead coordinates: 33.73764, -118.347464 (33° 44′ 15.5″N 118° 20′ 50.87″W)
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