Thursday, May 30, 2013

My Number 1 San Diego Hike: Torrey Pines State Reserve


The Rare Torrey Pine Tree
The torrey pine is the rarest pine species in United States, growing naturally only in San Diego and Santa Rosa Island, one of the Channel Islands. These trees are probably remnants of an ancient coastal forest which has been reduced during the drying period of the last ten thousand years. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve has been established for the preservation of these rare trees, and the more than 330 species of plants and the wildlife that find refuge in this coastal wilderness that is actually within the limits of the city of San Diego. Very few Southern California coastline would look as quiet as it was centuries ago, thanks for the preservation of this place that people could experience nature at its best within the city. 
Me, Celebrating Happiness @ Torrey Pines :)
I know I have said it before, but let me say it again, Torrey Pines is my little piece of paradise and slice of heaven here in my adopted hometown, San Diego. I come here almost every weekend, and almost everyday (in the summer), but never get tired of. I may travel far to enjoy the wonders of nature in other places, but each time we go back home, I always long to go to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. You will find me both on land and in water. This post is about hiking, so I will skip the water part. Instead, I will share how we hike Torrey Pines most of the time, if not all the time. Torrey Pines has a lot of little trails, about 0.5-1.0 mile loop, but we do not limit ourselves to these little trails, instead, we take almost all the trails, so this hike could be as long as 8 miles, with maximum change in elevation about 450 ft (but you climb up and down several times when combining the trails).

Let me take you to our hike. I must warn you there would be a lot of pictures that follow here, since we combine almost all trails in Torrey Pines whenever we hike. From Los Penasquitos lagoon- Flat Rock- Brokel Hill- Red Butte- Razor Point- Yucca Point- Guy Fleming Trail-Lagoon.

We usually start our hike from North Torrey Pines Beach Parking area, adjacent to Los Penasquitos Lagoon.
Los Penasquitos Lagoon and Natural Reserve @ North Torrey Pines State Beach Parking
( vital to migrating sea birds )
 Terns and Sea Gulls In flight @ Los Penasquitos Lagoon
The start of our hike here is very similar to my Top 3 San Diego Hike, Torrey Pines State Beach to La Jolla Shores. From the lagoon, we walk west towards the beach.
Once we reach the beach, we start walking south towards the reserve. Walking on the beach, you will see so much happiness, from the kids.....
Kid Boogie Boarding at Torrey Pines State Beach
to the birds.
Sanderlings running Away from the Wave
You may wonder why I do not jump into the water instead and enjoy the waves, actually, I do most of the time after hiking, when it is summer. Thus explains why summer is my most favorite season, because I could combine hiking and the ocean without suffering from too frigid water. Anyway, I'll go back to the hike. In maybe half a mile from North Torrey Pines State Beach, you will now reach the bottom of cliffs of Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Bottom of Cliffs, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
The walls of the cliff show colored layers, which reveal their geologic past. The layers are divided into formations, from the oldest to the newest. The oldest formations is Del Mar Formation and Torrey Sandstone, of Eocene era about 48,000,000 years ago as revealed from the fossils these foundations reserve. As you walk past these cliffs, if you look up, on the crevices of the walls, you may find some white droppings, they may be of the fastest animal on Earth, the peregrine falcon.
Peregrine In Flight Above The Cliffs ( with some white droppings on the cliff)
If you are lucky, you may find some falcon chicks high on those cliffs, for after all, peregrine falcons are known to be cliff hangers.
Falcon Chicks Got Excited on Seeing Dad (leftmost) carrying food ( captive bird ) for them
( hope they will not be seen by great horned owl which preys on the falcon chicks )
As you near Flat Rock, you will see stairs that will bring you to the trails up the bluffs. 
Stairs to the trails of the Reserve
After the stairs, there are two trails to take. To the left, goes up to the Yucca Point and Parking Lot above the Reserve. We usually take the trail to our right first, which will bring us to Broken Hill. During a rainy winter, this trail explodes with color at spring. 
 Trail to Broken Hill
 Broken Hill
From Broken Hill, we take the trail that goes east and then North to the upper parking lot of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Instead of going down the road, we take the trail down again to Red Butte, to Razor Point.
 Razor Point
 Razor Point is one of our favorite stops to simply enjoy our wonderful world. We enjoy watching for flying hawks here,
peregrine falcons perched at the point, 
 migrating gray whales, happy dolphins,
 Playful Dolphins ( love to describe them as happy dolphins )
and many more. From Razor Point, we go South again to Yucca Point. 
 Power of Water and Wind, Badlands Between Razor Point and Yucca Point
Because Torrey Pines is not a demanding hike unlike El Capitan Open Space Reserve, we usually take more time here listening to our surroundings, thus it is easy to spot hummingbirds as they make that distinct noise.
 Lord's Candle ( common name of this particular yucca) at Yucca Point
From Yucca Point, we again take the trail up back to the parking area of the reserve. We love to pass by this trail behind Red Butte. 
 Trail behind Red Butte
After reaching the parking area, we take the paved road/trail down to Guy Fleming Trail, which has the thickest concentration of Torrey Pines. 
 Torrey Pines in Fogs
Perched on the branches of these trees usually are hawks and ospreys.
 Hawk Again
 South Viewpoint, Guy Fleming Trail
 Poppies at Guy Fleming Trail
 North Viewpoint, Guy Fleming Trail
 Torrey Pines lined trail @ Guy Fleming Trail
After the Guy Fleming trail, we continue our hike downhill back to North Torrey Pines State Beach. If it is summer, after the hike, we would enjoy some time feeling the power of the ocean by riding the waves. Torrey Pines is a place where we could stay from sunrise to sundown, whether on land or in water. :)
After Sunset @ North Torrey Pines State Beach looking South Towards the Reserve
I know, this post is probably my picture overloaded post. :( I apologize, I just usually get excited sharing my most favorite place in San Diego.

Now, who guessed correctly my most favorite San Diego hike? :
Che of Sweet Memoirs came closest, guessed both top 1 and 2 right, but got confused with Torrey Pines State Beach to la Jolla Shores, she thought on seeing Torrey Pines that Torrey Pines was just my number 3, where she thought it would be in the top 1 and 2, with Mt. Woodson.

I can't make Yosemite to my top ten San Diego hikes since Yosemite, though in California, but not in San Diego. This series of my top 10 San Diego hikes is limited only to San Diego County.

I can't make Angels Landing in the list too, because Angels Landing is in Zion National Park, which is in Utah. 

But like what I said earlier, I may spend some time to explore wonders of nature far from home sweet San Diego, but each time we go back home, Torrey Pines is always calling me, my little piece of paradise and slice of heaven in San Diego. 

Let me end this post by reviewing my list of My Top Ten San Diego Hikes:
#7 - Anza Borrego Desert State Park
#6- El Capitan Open Space Reserve
#5- Iron Mountain
#4- Cedar Creek Falls
#3-  Torrey Pines State Beach to La Jolla Shores
#2- Blue Sky Ecological Reserve to Mt. Woodson
#1- Torrey Pines State Reserve ( from lagoon-flat rock-broken hill-red butte-razor point-yucca point-high point overlook-guy fleming-back to lagoon)
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  1. weeeeeeeeee, i knew it Torrey Pines is on the top of your list Beth! hahaha, i got confused indeed with the mention of Torrey Pines in your top 3 hike. thanks for the special mention, having been friends with you on and off the blogosphere for as long as i can remember made me guessed correctly. and perhaps because you have convinced me through your Torrey Pines posts that it is indeed a little piece of paradise and a slice of heaven. :D

  2. the shots are really awesome, betchai. at okay lang naman overloaded, the best naman ang narration mo. para mo na rin ako sinama sa trail. pero feeling ko ang tatarik nong trail. hihingalin ka like that in South Viewpoint, Guy Fleming Trail photo.

  3. Wow!!! Every snap is simply breathtaking! You have captured them well, sis! Nakakawala ng problema kasi napapa-smile ako looking at the beautiful scenes! I am sure it is wonderful to take a nature adventure in those spots! Thanks for sharing!

  4. You have always amazed me with you beautiful photos.

  5. love your eyes ms bet, kumikinang kinang siguro ang iyong mga mata sa sobrang busog sa nakikita nyang kagandahan :)

  6. I would love to see in person your little piece of paradise on Earth one sweet day! I am thinking now of the ancient coastal forest which Torrey Pines used to inhabit...I am catching my breath here and saying indeed San Diego is so beautiful no wonder you chose to stay there...hahahaha I am so poor with geography that it is difficult for me to internalize places hahahaha I just know that whatever place you visit gets to have that unique Betchai wonderwoman touch that shows to the world just how joyful it is to commune with nature! That first sunset shot featuring a Torrey Pine tree mesmerizes me beyond words and the after sunset shot finale makes me speechless just as much...your happy photos modelling the best San Diego hike inspires me to keep exploring! To Torrey Pines with you, I dream sweet day :D love yah!

  7. Ate Beth, pwede ba ako magpaampon sayo? Lol, kidding here but I really love your adventures. Must be awesome to do that all the time! Those pictures makes me really want to explore the world lol.

  8. Another set of amazing photos. Betchai, I see you are so happy enjoying life to the fullest, saksi ang mga photos mo.

  9. back from FBF, such a breathtaking place to be! and yeah, one sweet day we'll be there at ito-tour mo kami. hehehe;)

  10. liked those Peregrine shots... and dolphins of course...

  11. What an amazing beauty of nature especially the birds and the horizon. Every photos you have in here captivated the awesome beauty of God's creation. Thank you for letting us see your travels.

  12. What a beautiful and amazing place Torrey Pines is! How exciting to see falcon chicks and dolphins while hiking. :)

  13. JUST WOW!! I started counting the pics of those that I like and I have the first and the fifth as my first favorites but all of the favoritism vanished when I scroll down and saw each and every pictures. You're a very good photographer, super! I've never been there (or never been out of the country for that matter) but you made me feel like I was also there, seeing and feeling the wonders of nature and it's glorious beauty! Thank you so much Mam Betchai for sharing your nature escapades and your awesome photographs. :)

  14. You always show us amazing picture of your beautiful city :-) I love the seagulls flying...breath taking to look at :-) Thank you so sharing beautiful pictures of the nature too :-)

  15. picture overload as you've said but i love them all, i even kept looking back and forth...i wish there's more and thanks for sharing a very detailed hike on your number 1 hikes in san diego. i always hope that someday, our family can try hiking, too. you always make it sounds super fun and those beautiful pictures always makes me want to try it. :)

  16. Torrey Pines is indeed a paradise!