Laura and Lee's Torrey Pines Traipse

February 20, 1999

Torrey Pines State Reserve is a 2000 acre park located right along the coast just north of San Diego between La Jolla and Del Mar. The park preserves the Torrey Pine Pinus Torreyana, which is native only to this area and to Santa Rosa Island.

The park also allows visitors to see what this part of California looked like before it was settled and before we started getting water from outside sources. People forget that Southern California, even along the coast, is essentially a desert - average rainfall is only about 10" per year. The native vegetation is mostly hardy shrubs and trees which can still thrive without much water. It might sound rather bleak, but the combination of rocks, trees, and ocean offers many beautiful vistas, and there are wildflowers blooming all throughout the year.

The park has about 8 miles of trails that wander through the pine trees and out to the edge of the cliffs overlooking the ocean - there's one trail that goes down to the beach.

We drove there on Saturday afternoon (it's only about 20 minutes from our house), and spent a few hours walking around and enjoying the scenery. San Diego has been experiencing high surf due to winter storms, and the ocean was especially beautiful. It was a beautiful day, and a lot of other people had the same idea - we had to park in the lower lot down by the beach and walk up the road to the trails and Visitor Center...oh horrors! ;-) The road climbs 300' in .8 miles, and it's *very* popular with runners - we saw a lot of people running on the road and also on the trails.

I was surprised at how many wildflowers were in bloom even in February, and took lots of pictures. I don't know what most of these are...I suppose one of these days I need to actually buy a book on San Diego wildflowers! ;-)

The reserve has some VERY strict rules - such as no food or drink except on the beach. But this meant that we didn't see *any* trash, which was really nice. (We cheated, and brought a bottle of water with us, which we drank on the trail. But shhh...don't tell anyone!)

We walked the Guy Fleming Trail and the Parry Grove Trail...the Parry Grove, as far as we could tell, consisted of dead trees...This picture was taken at the top of the Guy Fleming trail, and shows a nice formation of Torrey Sandstone.

Lee admires(?) some California Buckwheat - which he insists is not wheat, nor any sort of grain. :-)

We thought this sandstone formation looked like a giant sea shell.

San Diego's own version of the Cliffs of Insanity (for all you Princess Bride fans out there. :-) ).

And this is what Southern California looks like before you add lots and lots of water brought in from other places...

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Text and photographs copyright © 1999, by Laura Gilbreath. Feel free to link to this document, but you may not redistribute it in any form without the express written consent of the copyright holder.

Laura Gilbreath,
Last updated 2/24/99