It's hard to find any true wilderness in the vast plain between LAX and the great Palos Verdes massif, which is what makes Hopkins Wilderness Park so much fun. Until 1977 this barren hilltop, perched on the border of Redondo Beach and Torrance, was home to a Minuteman site (the missile, not the militia), keeping our country safe from the Soviet menace. It was remade into a wooded pocket park: 11 acres of hills, paths, trees and a pond replete with great big turtles sunning themselves. There are even campsites available by reservation and for a fee for overnight camping on Friday and Saturday nights. From a hillock on the western edge of the park, you can see over Redondo to the sea. Peeking through the fence on the eastern side, downtown glimmers in the distance. In between, you can actually believe you're in the wilderness. Open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; closed Wednesdays. They mean it about closing at 4:30. I know. My bud Ethan and I got locked in once and had to scale the fence to escape. It would have been funnier if he hadn't been 6 at the time. Stinkin' kids. 1102 Camino Real, Redondo Beach. (310) 318-0668,

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