Get outside (but keep your distance!) at L.A.'s hidden marsh
Madrona Marsh Preserve is having a moment. The seasonal wetland that takes up a square block in Torrance is flush with water and wildflowers right now. It’s a good place to take an easy, short walk while still respecting California’s “Safer at Home” order.
As restrictions get tighter and stir-craziness grows, officials and Californians walk a delicate line on outdoor activity
By the way, the governor’s order allows Californians to walk, hike and bike outdoors. Obviously, you cannot go in a group, you cannot go out if you are sick, and you must remain socially distant from other walkers. All that is possible at the little park that offers a welcome breath of spring.
The seasonal pools are full right now. In August, this can be a dusty, barren place, but after winter rains, the preserve looks like a Louisiana bayou. You enter through a gate on Plaza del Amo and can walk a wide outer loop along the circumference of the preserve.
Look for mallards, red-wing blackbirds and other birds enjoying the seasonal water. (Wear shoes or boots you don’t mind getting muddy.) Resist the smaller trails to the wetlands; you risk trampling sensitive plants.
The entire area has greened up with the recent rains. (I was there Friday and found the pools quite full.) Also, look for stands of bright yellow bush sunflowers, small bunches of golden poppies and yellow deerweed as you meander around. You’ll see sycamore trees and willows, some whose trunks are partly submerged in the water.
Small wooden bridges connect some of the muddier areas. When you tire of the ooze, you can head to the eastern side, which is drier and has nice wildflower displays.
Across the street, the nature center is closed but take a minute to tour the native garden alongside. You’ll see bushy black sage in bloom as well as cactus flowers, deerweed, flannel bush and other local species, a reminder that spring goes on despite the coronavirus.
You can keep your trip short — walk for 20 minutes and then head home — and enjoy a nice escape during these “Safer at Home” times. Here’s a more in-depth guide to walking in the preserve.
The preserve is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Monday at 3201 Plaza del Amo in Torrance. Free parking and entry. Happy spring!
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