The trailhead begins on the 300 block of Washington Boulevard, just east of Strong Drive. Head south along the east bank of the Grand Canal on the narrow footpath. Under a canopy of lush foliage, the natural path changes to a paved path between the canal and homes. At 0.4 miles, near the end of the path, curve left to Via Dolce. Cross over the wetlands on the bridge to the right. Take the rail-fenced walkway to the right, and enter the Ballona Lagoon Marine Preserve.
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Continue southeast through the preserve. Pass a cement bridge over the lagoon that leads to Pacific Avenue by Lighthouse Street. At the far south end of the path, just before Via Marina by the harbor channel, a boardwalk leads to an observation deck with interpretive panels about the preserve. Across Via Marina is Austin Park, a narrow, landscaped park fronting the north edge of the Marina Del Rey Harbor Channel. It is a great place to view boats entering and leaving the marina. Continue to the right along the sidewalk on the west side of the street to Topsail Street. Cross the street to the dirt path along the lagoon, passing the Lighthouse Street Bridge to Jib Street. Curve right, leaving Pacific Avenue while staying close to the lagoon. A paved path follows the west bank of Grand Canal and returns parallel to Strong Drive back to Washington Boulevard.
Del Rey Lagoon and Ballona Creek
MARINA DEL REY HARBOR CHANNEL
Hiking distance: 2.8 miles round trip Hiking time: 1.5 hours
Configuration: out-and-back with two spur trails
Elevation gain: level
Maps: U.S.G.S. Venice
The Del Rey Lagoon in Playa Del Rey, near the Marina Del Rey Harbor Channel, is tucked between the north end of Dockweiler Beach and Ballona Creek. The 13-acre lagoon is surrounded by a grassy park with geese and
ducks. It is a remnant of the original 1,700-acre Ballona Creek wetlands, stretching from Playa Del Rey to Santa Monica. Ballona Creek borders the south edge of the harbor channel and heads 9 miles inland through Culver City to the north side of the Santa Monica Freeway. This hike begins at Del Rey Lagoon and follows Ballona Creek seaward to the mouth of the harbor and inland along the creek. A section of the path follows the boulder levee that forms the south side of the harbor channel, utilizing a paved walking and biking path over the boulders.
To the trailhead
From the south side of Marina Del Rey at the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Culver Boulevard in Marina Del Rey, head 1.5 miles southwest on Culver Boulevard (towards the ocean) to Vista Del Mar at a traffic light. Stay to the right on Culver Boulevard 2 blocks to Pacific Avenue. Turn right and drive 0.4 miles to the vehicle-restricted bridge at 62nd Avenue. Park along the road where a space is available.
From the 405 (San Diego) Freeway in Culver City, take the Culver Boulevard exit and head 2.25 miles southwest (towards the ocean) to Lincoln Boulevard. Proceed with the directions above.
Walk into Del Rey Lagoon Park, and stroll through the grassy park along the lagoon. Return to Pacific Avenue and head north. Cross the vehicle-restricted bridge over Ballona Creek to the walking and biking path on the levee separating Ballona Creek from the Marina Del Rey Harbor Channel. The left fork follows the paved, built-on-boulders path between the two waterways. The path leads beyond the shoreline to the end of the harbor channel, a great spot for observing boats coming in and out of the harbor. Use caution and good judgment if venturing west across the cemented boulders along the last 100 yards.
Return and follow the levee inland. At a half mile past the bridge, the harbor channel curves north, away from Ballona Creek and the hiking/biking path. Continue along the paved path, or take the dirt trail to the north of the paved trail. A short distance ahead, a path curves left to Fisherman’s Village, a tourist area resembling a New England seaport town with shops, galleries, and boat docks. This is the turn-around spot.
To hike farther, continue on the main trail along Ballona Creek, reaching sand beaches, popular for surfing, swimming, fishing, volleyball, and hanging out. The three well-maintained beach communities have piers, which are surrounded by quaint shops and outdoor cafes. They have grown together, yet have retained their own distinct characters.
This hike follows The Strand, a paved pedestrian boardwalk lining the back end of the beaches. The boardwalk links the three towns and is used by walkers, joggers, and skaters. The Strand connects to an aquarium, parks, and three beach piers with shops and restaurants. The towns are also linked by the South Bay Bicycle Trail, which stretches 20 miles from Will Rogers State Beach to its terminus at Redondo Beach.
To the trailhead
The three beaches can be accessed from numerous routes off the San Diego Freeway, including Rosecrans Avenue, Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Artesia Boulevard, and 190th Street. This hike begins by the Manhattan Beach Pier at the end of Manhattan Beach Boulevard. From the 405 (San Diego) Freeway in Lawndale, take the Manhattan Beach Boulevard exit, and drive 2.8 miles west to downtown Manhattan Beach at Ocean Drive. Park in an available metered parking space.
Walk out on the 900-foot Manhattan Beach Pier, and view the coastline from offshore. At the rounded end of the pier is a small marine lab and aquarium.
Return to The Strand on the low bluffs atop the seawall and head south, passing numerous pedestrian-only walking streets that connect the residential streets to The Strand. Below are the biking trail, volleyball courts, sandy beach, and the ocean. In less than a half mile, cross into Hermosa Beach. Continue past beachfront homes and apartments to the 900-foot-long Hermosa Beach Pier at the foot of Pier Avenue. Pier Avenue is lined with outdoor restaurants and interesting shops.
Continue south to King Harbor at 2.3 miles, where the beach ends. Walk inland to Harbor Drive at Herondo Street. Follow the sidewalk to the right on Harbor Drive, passing King Harbor to the end of the road at a parking structure. Descend to the right to the walking path, and meander through horseshoe-shaped Redondo Beach Pier amid shops and restaurants. At the south end of the pier, the path leads into Veterans Park, the turn-around spot. Return by retracing your steps.