The Big Sweep

Cruising Palos Verdes

Jun 11, 2001
Outside Magazine

About a million years ago, Palos Verdes was a near-shore channel island. A few earthquakes and tectonic plate shifts later, it's a canyon-riven peninsula with a sheer coastline of striated shale cliffs. Besides offering endless ocean views, this sagebrush-and-scrub outcropping has a dreamy 30-mile (give or take) loop for road bikers, which begins and ends at the South Bay Bicycle Trail. From wherever you're staying, start pedaling south on the beach trail shortly after dawn to beat the traffic—a wise strategy for any go-fast biker or skater.
The trail ends a few miles beyond Redondo, just before the beach itself ends. Take a ramp up to Paseo de la Playa, make a right, and climb to the intersection with Palos Verdes Boulevard; from there it's about a half-mile to a three-way intersection where all options are named Palos Verdes. Go left on Palos Verdes Drive North into Rolling Hills Estates, a SoCal version of white-picket-fenced, horsey Connecticut. With the turn seaward, onto Palos Verdes Drive East, begin a serious few miles of climbing to the peninsula's crest, with staggering rearward views east across the L.A. Basin and south over the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Some thousand feet above the Pacific you can gaze out on Catalina Island and then whoop down hairpin turns to coastal Palos Verdes Drives South and West, which, in combination with shore-hugging Paseo del Mar, provide ten miles of socko seascapes.