Visit Torrey Pines State Reserve in La Jolla CA
Carlsbad, and much of California for that matter, is blessed with a gorgeous coastline – the edge of our continent amidst a sea of urban life. (see a past article on the California Central Coast and Nepenthe, along the Big Sur coast for more amazing scenery).
But just a few miles south is an isolated, wilderness area that is breathtaking for the vistas of hills and rocks meeting the sea, and home to our country’s rarest pine tree, the Torrey Pine.
Torrey Pines State Reserve is home to incredible and dramatic scenery, and this rare tree which only grows at the reserve and on Santa Rosa island off Santa Barbara’s coast.
The state reserve is a wonderful place to capture a glimpse of what the Southern California region was like prior to the encroachment of humankind and development, although this area has suffered from erosion and other natural hazards over the year.
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Entering the park at the north end (at the south end of Torrey Pines State Beach), you may either park at the base of the hills and enjoy a vigorous walk up, or drive to the summit and visitors center/museum. There are a number of hiking trails, which are fairly easy and offer panoramic views of the ocean and hills, and the opportunity to enjoy trees, wild flowers, chaparral and cactus. Parking is $8; the reserve opens at 8 am and closes at sunset. You can easily access the park from Route 101/Coast highway or from the 5 freeway (exit at Carmel Valley Road and head to the beach).
This amazing coastal wilderness is well worth the trip, whether you enjoy hiking or not. Be sure to take water and your camera, and wear comfortable hiking shoes (unless you decide to not get out of your car, which would be a shame but the views are still amazing).