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Ocean Trails/Trump National Golf Course

Ocean Trails is a system of moderately steep public trails that meander through 90 acres of restored coastal sage scrub around the perimeter of Trump National Golf Course to bluffs high above the Pacific Ocean. Trump National worked closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife to protect the environmentally sensitive habitat, which contains several protected plant species and the endangered coastal California gnatcatcher. At the 17th hole is a dramatic waterfall that fills a collection pond; it cost Trump $61 million to build. On weekends the trails are busy with serious to casual walkers, many with dogs on leashes.

A rocky beach below the bluffs is inaccessible to wheelchair riders, but ocean views are plentiful. There’s a small grassy area between the bluffs and clubhouse, with a few picnic tables that have stunning ocean views but fill up quickly. Nearby Marilyn Ryan Sunset Park is on a hill at the edge of the golf course, overlooking the driving range.

I intended to make my visit here a quick one, but ended up taking a leisurely stroll to admire the native plants and the views, spotting boats and Catalina Island in the sparkling ocean waters. I've gazed longingly at many a lush golf course with paved access routes that looked like they would make great accessible trails, and my suspicions have been confirmed: This golf course was a real beauty to hike.

Trail/Pathway Details

Ocean Trail

Trailhead: At the first public parking lot on Trump National Dr. (by the clubhouse) or at La Rotunda Dr. parking lot

Length: 2-4 total miles

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Mostly level or gentle

Several steep stretches were not a problem in a motorized wheelchair. La Rotunda Dr. has a long uphill climb to Palos Verdes Dr. South.

Terrain: Hard

Description

I was struck by the odd juxtaposition of this lush, green golf course and the mostly dry coastal scrub landscape surrounding it, but nonetheless appreciated the stunning setting for this hike, and that it is open to the public. There is no shade on the 3-mile route I followed, so come prepared with a hat and sunscreen. From the parking lot, head toward the ocean down a short, steep slope to a flat grassy area. A sign indicates the coastal trail to the left, but first make a quick loop around the expansive lawn on a paved walkway. A large stone marker describes this spot as the site of the first Japanese-American farm.

Back at the start of the loop, follow the decomposed granite coastal trail as it dips and climbs toward the ocean, then follows the coastline along the high bluffs for less than half a mile. Even though I passed many hikers and runners, I experienced a sense of isolation on some stretches; the golf course isn’t visible for much of the way. The vantage point high on the bluffs provides a good view of the varying hues of the water; bring binoculars to look for marine life.

After about a half-mile you come to a path on the left that leads steeply downhill and across a bridge. If you want to check out the waterfall on hole 17—and I highly recommend it—disregard the sign (as did everyone else) that says the path is for golf carts only. The falls were spectacular and thunderous, and I felt as if I’d been transported to the tropics.

In less than a quarter of a mile the trail ends at La Rotunda parking lot. You can either retrace your steps or extend your hike another two miles by traveling up La Rotunda Drive to Palos Verdes Drive South, and on to Marilyn Ryan Sunset Park. You’ll need to travel in the road on La Rotunda Drive because there is no sidewalk on one side and the other sidewalk has no curb ramps for its entire length, but traffic is minimal. Views of the hills dotted with luxurious homes offer a change of scenery.

At the top of the hill, turn left onto the path on Palos Verdes Drive South for another half-mile to Marilyn Ryan Sunset Park. The path is set below the road for part of the way, and native plantings help to obscure the road and traffic noise. Here you’re above the golf course and can see the course layout. Cross Trump National Drive to reach the park, or follow the road back to the parking lot.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Accessible Parking: Yes

The main lots for this hike are at the end of La Rotunda Drive and on both sides of the clubhouse at the end of Trump National Drive. The trailhead is at the lot just before the clubhouse, but the spaces here have no access aisle. The lots by the clubhouse have spaces with access aisles, but from there you must travel in Trump National Drive (which has little traffic) a very short distance to reach the trailhead. More spaces are along Palos Verdes Drive South; one is immediately west of Trump National Drive at Marilyn Ryan Sunset Point Park and another farther east, at a pullout.

Accessible Restroom: Yes

A short distance from La Rotunda parking lot and behind the clubhouse. The nicest is in the clubhouse and is open to the public.

Accessible Picnic Tables: Yes

Picnic tables inside the golf course are behind the clubhouse, in alcoves along the edges of the lawn (referred to as the park). They are very popular during nice weather. There is no shade. A small concession stand behind the clubhouse has a few accessible patio tables with umbrellas. Tables at Marilyn Ryan Park are atop a hill overlooking the driving range and the Pacific Ocean.
Overview of golf course
Overview of golf course (Bonnie Lewkowicz)

Features icon key

  • hiking
  • picnic

Additional Information

View Map  
Website: www.palosverdes.com/rpv/recreationparks/
Managing Agency: City of Rancho Palos Verdes
Address: 1 Ocean Trails Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes
Nearest City: Rancho Palos Verdes
Phone: (310) 544-5260
Hours: One hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. The parking lot at La Rotunda Dr. is locked at sunset.
Fees: None
Dogs: In restricted areas
Allowed on the pathways but not on the beach
Public Transportation: Palos Verdes Peninsula Transit Authority
Reviewed by Ann Ruth, February 10, 2013
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

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Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
  Hiking icon is silhouette of a hikerHiking & Trails
Biking icon looks like person riding a bikeBicycling   Good for Familis icon is a child on a swing'Particularly Good for Families
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