1. Willow-Riparian Habitat

Habitats are the spaces where people and wildlife live. The occurrence of certain plant species, along with other natural features of the land, indicate specific habitats which support wildlife communities.

To the right of the trail you look down into a Willow-Riparian Habitat. Willow-Raparian refers to a wildlife habitat where there is a stream and where willow trees are dominant.

2. Leaves of Three ... Let Them Be!

Learn to recognize POISON OAK. This is a native shrub/vine that is very common in the park. The stream bed and trail edges are covered with it. Just to brush against it can cause a severe, itching rash that can last for days.

In Spring and Summer the plant has bright green, healthy leaves in sets of three, on tan twigs. In Autumn it shows fall colors, and in winter the bare twigs can still be dangerous. The oils, to which skin is sensitive, can also get on clothing or your pets fur, from where it can seriously effect people who touch it.

For your best enjoyment of the Stein/Hale Nature Trail, please stay in the designated areas and appreciate our POISON OAK  from a safe distance.

3. Bird Observation Deck

Water is life, and the riparian habitat is an oasis for those birds that remain in it or come to visit it periodically. 

Look for the migratory birds that visit the area.

Spring and Summer:

           ~  Hooded Orioles
           ~  Western Tanager
           ~  Black-headed Grosbeak
           ~  Phainopepla
           ~  Barn swallow


           ~  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
           ~  Yellow-rumped Warbler
           ~  Northern Flicker
           ~  White Crowned Sparrow
           ~  Coopers and Sharp-shinned Hawks

4. Non-native Plants

Between the viewing decks and the bridge, you will see a variety of nonnative plants that come from areas with similar climates and growing conditions. This west coast Mediterranean climate is also found in Chile, South Africa, Australia and the Mediterranean Basin. Some of the non-natives are:

~  California Pepper Trees
~  Brazilian Pepper Trees
~  Castor Bean
~  Eucalyptus
~  Fennel
~  Milk Thistle
~  Mexican Fan Palm
~  Tree Tobacco

5. Quarter Mile Bridge

The wet area uphill from the trail is an all-year seep. On the bank is Giant Rye Grass, a very tall grass that seeks damp soils. Stop on the bridge and enjoy the view up and down the creek.

The orange color of the water is caused by high concentrations of naturally occurring iron.  The foaming is caused by detergents from runoff finding their way into the ground water.

George F Canyon is the major drainage channel for the north side of the Palos Verdes Hills. It is fed by several springs that flow all year. The stream can become dangerously strong during big storms. During the summer it may soak into the ground and become just a trickle above or just under the steam bed rocks.

Animal Tracking Station

Take a moment to explore the tracking station.

Keep an observant eye for signs of animal life. They leave their signature everywhere as they move about their daily business. Paw prints, scat and flattened down vegetation are indicators of the presence of mammals. Most of the mammals that inhabit the canyon are nocturnal, so it would be unusual to observe one on your walk. They include grey fox, raccoon, rabbit, skunk, mouse, gopher, pack rat, opossum, shrew and possibly coyote.

6. Coastal Scrub Community

Rounding the bend here, an entirely different landscape appears. Gone are most of the willows. The landscape now consists of low shrubs and native plants that are drought tolerant. The abundance of sage and other resinous plants fill the air with distinctive odors. This is the Coastal Sage Scrub plant community. This habitat is declining rapidly in California due to increasing development of the land.

Some typical plants found here:

  • California Sagebrush (gray-green)
  • Lemonadeberry (pink flowers)
  • Black Sage (pale purple flowers)
  • Mule Fat
  • Bladderpod
  • Buckwheat (flat pinkish flowers)
7. Geology Stop

The very hard bluish gray, reddish purple or greenish rocks exposed in the stream bed and trail are Catalina schist.  At 150 million years old, the metamorphic schist is the oldest rock found on the peninsula, and underlies the whole of the Los Angeles Basin but is only found exposed here at George F Canyon! The Palos Verdes Peninsula, once a channel island before becoming part of the peninsula, has many features similar to those found on Catalina Island.

8. Tracks & Scat

Scat is what naturalists call animal droppings. Take a close look at some. You can tell what the animal ate – seeds, fur, feathers and bones.

9. Half-Mile Bench

Enjoy sitting in the shade of a Catalina Cherry tree while quietly observing the plants, birds, butterflies and dragonflies that inhabit the canyon.

10. Duenes' Ford

Here you cross the stream again. Heavy rains can make this impassable. The trail ascends the south side of the canyon with an 1/8 mile moderate climb.

11. Raptor Viewing Bench

A Raptor is a bird of prey. Watch for the raptors and other bird species soaring on the wind currents rising above the steep cliffs of George F Canyon.

       ~  Red-tailed Hawk
       ~  Red-shouldered Hawk
       ~  Common Raven
       ~  American Kestrel
       ~  Swallows

12. Elderberry Lookout

Sit in the shade of the very old Elderberry tree and look how far you've come up the trail. On a clear day you can view the city to the mountains. Look for these plants:

  • Toyon (red holly berries)
  • Sticky monkey flower (yellow)
  • Snowberry (white berries)
  • Blue Dicks (wild Hyacinth)
  • Golden Stars
  • Climbing Penstemon (red tube flowers)

This is the Rolling Hills Estates City limits and the end of the Stein/Hale Nature Trail.  Please return via the trail and enjoy it again.