Monday, July 13, 2009
Just the Facts, Ma'am
What: Point Dume Hiking Trail
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
Cost: Unless you're a parking ninja (like my brother who somehow found street parking in Malibu on a Saturday), you can expect to spend about $7 to park in the lot
Why: It's so beautiful and one of the few places I've been in LA where you have no way of knowing that you're in a city.
More Information: California State Parks Website
My brother and his girl found street parking, but when my friend Nora and I hiked Point Dume, we took the easy route and paid a ghastly $7 to park in the lot on Point Dume Beach. We got there in the morning hours when there were still plenty of open spots . . . best of luck if you go for it on a weekend afternoon.
We didn't spend much time on Point Dume Beach, but I can at least tell you that that seems a pleasant enough area . . . nice white sand, blue water, those lifeguard huts that make you feel like Baywatch is totally real. Before embarking on our hike we also took a moment to get a few pictures of rock climbers scaling the very cliff we were about to climb.
At the far end of the parking lot, there is a trail head, complete with a little sign indicating that you are, in fact, at Point Dume. The trail itself makes for a moderate hike, as the only real challenge is the initial ascent up a sandy hillside. But I don't think anyone hikes this trail for the challenge. Point Dume is all about the view.
As our dainty little cliffside path wound its way around to the edge of the cliff, we began to hear distinctive "orking." Nora stopped and looked at me.
Seals, indeed. As soon as the trail awarded us with the first broad ocean view, we discovered a little seal friend, taking it easy on a wave-splashed rock near the shore.
The view along the trail (which is actually a boardwalk for a short while) is surreal. The day we hiked, the water was an ethereal blue, waves rushed against the cliffs and sighed away, sea gulls flew overhead, and, as I already mentioned once before, seals lay on rocks and orked.
Point Dume is made all the more perfect by a little hidden cove which can only be accessed by a steep cliff side staircase that forks off from the trail. Once I stepped off the last stair and looked out before me at the semi-rocky beach, I was aware of being in another place entirely. No car horns, no cell phones, no evidence that there was or ever had been anything on the other side of the cliffs.
We spent a few good hours picnicking on our beach blankets, semi-napping to the rhythmic whoosh-shaa of the waves, and doing a little people watching among the few visitors (almost half of whom were surfers) who also recognized that a little effort can go a long way when it comes to finding a nice peaceful bit of seashore.
Nora and I also enjoyed the privileges of watching a couple seals ride the waves very close to the shore and of guessing whether the sleek fins cycling in and out of the water in the distance belonged to dolphins or whales.
We left around 3:30 p.m., and while we didn't catch the sunset (which I'm sure is amazing), we did hike back in time to see the impossibly endless sea glittered with the reflection of the low afternoon sun.
It was an accidentally meditative day.
What I Missed
Rumor has it, you can do some White Whale watching at a deck along the trail in the late winter months. I will definitely be back to give it a go, even if I can't find someone crazy enough to sit by the ocean with me in January.
Paradise Cove is one of the more popular quiet beaches in LA (if that makes sense). I'd like to see it to see it one of these days, and I believe it can be reached (or at least approached) by the same trail. I'm in no great rush, however, as I have heard it paired with words such as "celebrity" and "elite."
Nora and I made this visit in the late morning hours, and were at the beach from about noon to 3:30. My brother and his girl made their visit in the late afternoon/early evening (but on a different day), and the tide was too high to safely enjoy the beach. If you want to be sure you can fully enjoy the cove, check out the tide forecast for Point Dume here.