Outdoor Adventures / Hiking & Backpacking

A Hike to Cure the Holidaze

A hike to cure the holidaze

Sunshine. Fresh air. A hilly hike. All good things on Christmas Day, and the perfect elixir for the holidaze (especially after entertaining all night on Christmas Eve!).

I live on a little-known peninsula of Los Angeles that’s about as far removed from Los Angeles as one could be, both geographically and figuratively. No freeways, no traffic, and you’re more likely to share the road with wild peacocks than local celebrities.

It’s also the most geologically active region in Greater Los Angeles, thought to be an island at one time as it shares a similar — and unique —  ecosystem to that of the nearby Channel Islands. Dramatic cliffs formed by lava and vibrant tidepools filled with sea anemones define the shoreline, while miles of trails wind around the Palos Verdes Hills high above the Pacific.

It’s an ecological gem in the southernmost part of the basin, and I pinch myself every time I look out my window: snow-capped peaks just beyond the Port of Los Angeles to the east, and thousands of acres of open space abutting unspoiled ocean to the west.

On Christmas Day, there was not a cloud in the sky and the hills were starting to turn green after all the recent rains. Across the channel, Santa Catalina Island (with its distinctive isthmus) was as clear as I’d ever seen it.

View of Catalina Island

Seaview Trail in San Pedro

With the pugs in tow, we found a trailhead tucked in the corner of a hillside community near our house. There was no signpost, nor did we see any other hikers coming down or going up. But Google Maps showed a narrow trail ascending what we believed to be the peak of Palos Verdes Hills, a low mountain range on the peninsula. It was such an ideal day for a little stroll, we didn’t really mind where it took us.

As we meandered along the aptly named Seaview Trail, the suburban neighborhood below us gave way to panoramic views of the coastline. We found small white shells, hundreds of them, dotting the hillside.

Seashells on the trail

The trail climbed up San Pedro Hill to the FAA Radar Station, the highest point on the peninsula at 1,457 feet. I’d always seen the radar tower from my neighborhood, gleaming in the sun like a giant golf ball, but had never been to the very top of that hill until that day. We had pristine views stretching across the peninsula from Sacred Cove, our favorite tidepooling spot, to Mossy Rock, our local surf break.

Hiking to the radar station

San Pedro Hill FAA Radar Station

Idling on the peak with the pugs

Family outing on Christmas Day

We idled on the peak as the sun waned on the horizon, watching the hills transform from green to gold to red.

Palos Verdes Peninsula coastline

Pug on a hike

Golden hour

Hiking the Palos Verdes Hills

Hiking the Seaview Trail

Sunset on Christmas Day

And with that, we wrapped up our hike and went home to light a fire, heat up hot chocolate, and open presents under the tree. It was a merry Christmas indeed.

Linda Ly About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »

22 Comments

  • Avatar
    Charity
    January 9, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Thank you for your posts about all the different hikes you enjoy! My family is heading to So Cal for two weeks in February and I’ve gleaned your posts for a few hikes that I’d like to do to help us enjoy our trip!

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      January 9, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      This is a beautiful time of year to visit SoCal! Our recent rains have brought out all the green hills and snow caps. I highly recommend a drive along the coast of Palos Verdes Peninsula (nothing else like it in the region) and hiking the trail that starts in Abalone Cove and takes you up to Portuguese Point and Inspiration Point. If you hike down from there and go during low tide, you’ll see some amazing tide pools! It is my favorite hike in the entire region. If you want a great bird’s eye view of LA, I also recommend the Wonder View Trail to the Hollywood sign! Very different but no less enjoyable, especially if you like urban hikes. (I recently wrote a post for it.)

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Charity
        January 9, 2015 at 4:29 pm

        Thank you Linda, I added your post about the Wonder View Trail to our list and I’ll make sure that I check out the Inspiration Point Trail. I also added a stop at Salt Point State Park and the hike to Steep Ravine per your blog. I think we also have a hike to Fern Canyon and also one at the Sand Dunes outside of Florence. I’m not sure we will get it all in on one trip but we sure will have fun! Hope the weather is nice! Thanks again!

        Reply
        • Linda Ly
          Linda Ly
          January 10, 2015 at 12:22 am

          Wow, sounds like a super fun road trip! Enjoy!

          Reply
  • Avatar
    Vanessa Nesvig
    January 4, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Love your pictures of your beautiful part of the world! Here in Maine I get Holidaze too, nothing better than taking a walk outside, in the woods if possible, even if it is below freezing!

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      January 4, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      I love that feeling of the crisp, cold air on my face! Definitely wakes me up!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    thefolia
    December 31, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    What a dreamy day! Viva la outdoors!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    David Miccinello
    December 28, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Truly blessed on this day and every day!Peace and Love in 2015

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      Linda Ly
      December 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      Thank you for reading David! Happy New Year to you!

      Reply

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