Real Creek of the Week #1

July 25, 2011 § 4 Comments

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 While LA CreekFreak is almost always about real creeks, I thought I’d start this feature as a follow up to the Fake Creek of the Week, the not-really-weekly feature lampooning (at times probably lamenting) our Angeleno appetite for fakery, even when it comes to the “natural” world.

Malaga is a perennial watercourse draining northwest-facing hills of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, outletting at Malaga Cove, aka Rat Beach to locals.  This creek is the only one in the Peninsula that I know of that retains an almost natural profile (lengthwise section) in its lower reaches – the upper reaches have been altered at Malaga, what with housing and golf course development.  But that lower reach, with challenging access due to very steep (in places dangerously vertical) slopes is an escapist wonder, a place owned by tree frogs, snakes and small birds, that when trekking up the narrow canyon feels like a set out of an Indiana Jones movie.With its almost-undisturbed connection to the ocean, Malaga, along with Lunada Canyon’s Arroyo Amarga, offers us a rare reference for how the Peninsula’s many streams once interaced with the ocean.  Most of the streams today have culverted connections at their lower reaches, making headway for development but also creating a fair bit of flooding as the culverts are not capable of handling the large boulders that wash down from these canyons.  Rather than lay culverts and engineer sediment capture basins, we could study the rights-of-way carved by Malaga and Lunada and perhaps restore lower canyons in the Peninsula.

A trail leading to Malaga Cove offers the best public view of the creek. From Palos Verdes Drive, take Via Corta to Via Almar to Via Arroyo. The trail is visible from there. Note that from the nearby park the drop into the creek’s canyon is not protected and very, very steep.  The soil is very sandy and friable, despite the almost vertical drops – in other words, stay away from the edge.  If you go to visit, access is NOT easy, and as with any nature visit, you are responsible for your own actions.  Warnings and caveats noted, have fun and stay out of trouble!

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§ 4 Responses to Real Creek of the Week #1

  • Mike Letteriello says:

    Great little unknown watercourse. I explored it once years ago. I also
    watch it empty into the ocean when I jog to the end of Torrance Beach
    sometimes. You can hear the frogs from the parking lot of the church at the top of the hill near Palos Verdes Drive. We should have more “fake”
    creeks like this!

  • It is a neat secret spot. Have you been to George F. Canyon? It’s also in PV, on a north-facing canyon, and there are some nice CSS patches up there as well as a small riparian area with a seasonal creek and a few springs that have water all year.

    • Mike Letteriello says:

      Great little unknown watercourse. I explored it once years ago. I also
      watch it empty into the ocean when I jog to the end of Torrance Beach
      sometimes. You can hear the frogs from the parking lot of the church at the top of the hill near Palos Verdes Drive. We should have more “fake”
      creeks like this!

      George F Canyon is a fabulous spot, too. I once heard that the water there is so iron-rich that it curtails the life that can inhabit the water
      (can’t remember where I heard that or how accurate it is). There are also
      deposits of Catalina Schist (the bedrock of Catalina Island) exposed in the creek.

    • Jessica Hall says:

      I have been to George F Canyon, and traced it’s culverted path a short distance, until it got sketchy/creepy. It drains to San Pedro. It has been in the back of my mind to do a post on it as well. I didn’t know the details Mike shares here about iron and Catalina schist – neato!

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