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In the hustle and bustle of the greater Los Angeles area, the Veterans Parkway provides a cool, peaceful escape just a few minutes from the beach. This 3.5-mile trail nestled in a greenway of lush vegetation and flowers seems almost hidden, meandering through the ocean-side suburbs of Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach. These communities, about 20 minutes south of Los Angeles, have all the quintessential qualities of classic Southern California towns, including palm-tree-lined boulevards and an assortment of surf shops, beachfront bars, and restaurants.
The soft-surface pedestrian-only trail (no bikes or horses) passes numerous shops selling coffee and lemonade, as well as pancakes, pizza, and burritos, as it runs the length of the two towns sandwiched between Redondo Beach in the south and El Segundo in the north. Much of it runs within a half mile of popular Pacific beaches.
Formerly known as the Hermosa Valley Greenbelt, the corridor got its start in 1888 as a branch line of the Santa Fe Railway to haul goods to and from the wharves at Redondo Beach. Freight shipping declined after a major port opened elsewhere in 1909, and passenger service ended in 1918 due to competition from electric trolleys. The two beach towns separately acquired their segments of the disused rail corridor in the late 1980s and, after referenda and lawsuits, settled on creating a trail along the towns’ only greenbelt a few years later.
Wood chips give the trail a soft surface through the 24-acre greenbelt sandwiched between Valley Drive and Ardmore Avenue, although Hermosa Beach is installing a firmer surface on a 0.3-mile segment between the Pier Avenue and Eighth Street intersections to make wheelchair use easier.
Eucalyptus and other trees create shady spots along the trail, with other sections grown over with ice plants. Homeowners seeking to beautify their piece of trail provide flowering shrubs and other landscaping. Benches and drinking fountains are located every quarter mile or so.
The northern end of Veterans Parkway heads southwest from a large parking lot just south of Rosecrans Avenue on an access road for the Manhattan Village Shopping and Dining Complex. After passing residential neighborhoods for about a mile, you’ll come to busy playing fields at Dorsey Field and Live Oak Park. Another quarter mile takes you to the intersection with Manhattan Beach Boulevard, where you can leave the trail and head west to the beach, accessible in four blocks.
Crossing the intersection, you’ll find benches set among seven butterfly totems celebrating the monarchs that are drawn to the local eucalyptus. A wheelchair-accessible parcourse sits between 10th and 11th Streets.
Entering Hermosa Beach just past Boundary Place, there is a 1.7-mile segment through quiet neighborhoods and several parks—including Valley Park and South Park—where you’ll find playing fields and gardens with native flora and butterfly habitat.
The trail's southern end is located at Herondo Street on the border with Redondo Beach. Heading west for 400 feet on Herondo Street takes you to the The Strand, also known as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, which rolls for 21 miles along the coast from Pacific Palisades to Torrance.
Parking is available at a number of locations along the trail.
The northern trailhead has the large parking area that serves both the trailhead and the large shopping center on Rosecrans Avenue. The lot stretches toward the trailhead, which is opposite the shopping center at the far southwest end and is well signed.
The southern trailhead is on the right (north) at the intersection of Herondo Street and Valley Drive. There is no good parking at the southern endpoint, but there is street parking in the surrounding neighborhoods. Parking is available at a number of locations along the trail.
View the TrailLink map for all options and detailed directions.
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