Torrey Pines State Reserve and More

Day 3 in San Diego and we were ready for our first real walk.

We drove north from Point Loma, San Diego, through perfectly flat places to walk around Mission Bay and up and over the Soledad Mountains to Torrey Pines State Reserve.

Torrey Pines to the North

Many people seemed happy to climb or jog up the hill from the free parking lot along the beach. But we drove up the hill and used our State Parks pass.

Torrey Pine Lodge

At the top of the hill is a park building with museum. The building dates from 1922 and was part of the development by Ellen Browning Scripps. She had already donated more land to a park that had belonged to San Diego since 1899.

Not much had been done to protect the land or the trees. Scripps and Guy Fleming, a naturalist and the land’s first caretaker, took on the work. Fleming later became head of the State Parks in Southern California.

Torrey Pines grow here and on Santa Rosa Island off the coast. We also found a few trees the next day at the San Diego Botanical Gardens. The trees rely on the moisture from fog that often blows through — we were glad to have a sunny day. They also apparently thrive on the layered sandstone earth which creates some interesting land formations.

Torrey Pine Geology

We walked near the building where plants and bushes are identified on the Discovery Trail and down a flat road that ends at the golf course in a quarter of a mile. Several trailheads take off from the parking lot. There are 12 miles of trails including ones down to the beach and those down by Los Penasquitos Marsh.

We went downhill from the museum to walk the Guy Fleming Trail, because it is one of the gentler paths in the park. It was even easier because part of the loop trail was closed for renovations. We were happy to go out and back.

The trail is a dirt path that is sometimes uneven and has some steps. While much of the vegetation was familiar it provided new species, besides the pines, we don’t often see along the coast in Sonoma County. These included Shaw’s agaves, Mojave yucca, Del Mar Manzanita, lemonade berry, coast spice and deer weed.

We enjoyed seeing cacti next to ferns and some plants familiar to us such as Toyon and scrub oak. Just like at home, if we kept looking and peeking we found many flowers from California poppy, to sand verbena to ground pink and larkspur.

Walking along the bluff, 300’ above the ocean, we had fine views of the ocean, beach and tidal marsh. This is one of our favorite vistas and with a coastal bluff walk, we couldn’t ask for more.

Of course, we did. We went to Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Walked around La Jolla’s Kellogg Park to watch the people watching the seals on the beach. The next day we left San Diego stopping in the Botanic Gardens in Encinitas, Ca.

For more trail descriptions at Torrey Pines, please click here. Or check with the fine people of the Torrey Pines Association for more trail information.

See you on the trail! It’s been rainy in Sonoma County, but the creeks are roaring and we’ve taken a few walks.

Lynn Millar

Photos by Mike Millar

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