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Torrey Pines State Reserve
posted by John : April 4, 2007

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Torrey Pines State Reserve

Six days of a security conference in San Diego and I was getting a just a little bit tired of looking at my computer and reading about hacking tools. When I was setting up this trip I had looked for trails near the hotel, but found that cab fare was going to be something like $40 ONE WAY so I had pretty much dismissed the idea.

However, the day after Amy left I resolved to get some exercise that didn't involve a stairmaster. About 20 miles north was the Torrey Pines State Reserve, reknowned as the home of the Torrey pine tree, the "nation's rarest pine tree." I'd gotten some recommendations for the trails there so I set up a car rental and as soon as my day finished I changed and headed out.

The freeway was packed heading south, but going north was wide open. I rolled into the Torrey Pines State Reserve just after 6pm and saw signs that said I had to be out by 7pm or risk citation, mutilation, and murderation. Bummer.

Across from the visitor center was a little trail that extended to an overlook. Pretty underwhelming. However, there was a trail below, but I had to backtrack to find a way down. Once I was on the lower trail the trees were bigger and the little cliffs more apparent. I wound around for about 30 minutes looking at the super rare trees and the cool orange rocks. It was overcast so the color wasn't the best and the blue ocean at the bottom of the cliffs was more gray, but still pretty spectacular.

I got back to the car and headed out, but saw another trailhead. I was a little ahead of schedule so I jumped out and ran down the Guy Fleming trail to the north grove. Being short on time I actually ran a bit, but since my motto (or one of them) is "only run when chased" I didn't go much faster than walking.

I did get to encounter a ferocious snake posing as a stick in the middle of the trail. Concentrating on not falling down while running meant that I had little brainpower to spare for snake/stick differentiation and darn near jumped out of my skin.

The prize for facing down the stick was a cool viewpoint just past a grove of Torrey pines with views down the cliff.

Even though the park closed at "sunset" it was still quite light when I left right at 7pm. I parked by the beach and walked south along the beach below the cliffs I had just been on top of. The walking was easy down by the water where the sand was pretty solid and the receding tide made great designs using rocks and seaweed.

I continued until it was just about dark and then turned back. I actually needed my headlamp to get back to the car as the darkness and fog rolled in.

After all the trouble and expense of renting a car and the short length of the hike the obvious question is, "Was it worth it?" Well, duh. Yeah. Cool place. I wish I could have spent more time there and if I go back to San Diego I'll definitely take Amy and the kids to see the park and the beach.

Total distance was about four miles and a couple hundred feet of gain.

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