Descending at the Torrey PInes State Reserve Beach trail with stunning rock formations
Descending at the Torrey PInes State Reserve Beach trail with stunning rock formations

The day started with an amusing little chaos. It’s funny how logistics can quickly screw up at times. The plan was to spend time with relatives at La Jolla Cove not really Torrey Pines State Reserve. My sister and I took the AmTrak train from Vista to San Diego where our cousin picked us up at the Old Town Station to meet up with the rest of our cousins. A little misunderstanding went us driving around in circles at the upscale neighborhood of La Jolla. And when we finally got to meet heads with other relatives and laid our options did we get a clear direction where we’re going. Everyone agreed we’ll visit Torrey Pines State Reserve for the rest of the afternoon. I was excited as I’ve been yearning to do some trail hikes in San Diego since I came in the USA. That’s one of the things I like about in the country, the importance of parks and reserves and their accessibility in the city.

Hiking up Torrey PInes Road from the beach
Hiking up Torrey PInes Road from the beach

The Torrey Pines State Reserve

The Torrey Pines State Reserve is a 2,000 acre coastal state park under the community of La Jolla, Southern California. From Torrey Pines Road, the bluff may seem like a featureless lump rising by the beach. But within this natural reserve is the Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana), a rare species of pine tree found only here and also one of the Channel Islands in USA. This reserve was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1977 as it is home to several wildlife and flora like bobcats, coyotes, cacti, coastal chaparral, racoons, rabbit and including the rare Torrey Pine.

PWD accesible trail at the Whitaker Garden
PWD accesible trail at the Whitaker Garden

Torrey Pines Hike

Within the Torrey Pines State Reserve are more than 8 miles of hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty and scenery. At that time, I had no idea of the trails and let our cousin Buddy, who had been here before lead the way. We started at the Torrey Pines State Beach where we left some of our other cousins to enjoy the beach near the bridge. From the beach, we walked up to the park road leading to the High Point where a beautiful panorama of the reserve and pacific ocean can be seen. Nearby, benches are available, shaded naturally by pine trees. There’s also the Whitaker Garden, where even person with disabilities (PWDs) can enjoy this area as the trail is accessible by wheelchairs. There’s an amazing display of rare southern maritime chaparrals here. It is sad though that category 3 drought has clearly affected some of the vegetations at that time.

I was curious of the rusted colored rock platform people from a distance and asked my cousin if we could visit the area. The open trail here gets narrower and dusty but the trails are marked appropriately. So we reached the Red Butte, a prominent geological formation made of laterite soil full of iron oxide hence its red rusty color. It has a 360 degree vantage point of the reserve.

The trail forks to several points from the Red Butte, but since we’re heading to the beach we took the straight Beach Trail but the rock formations here as we descend further down the trail is absolutely fantastic. The work of art on the rock walls formed by natural erosion is impressive to look at. I could imagine this area in better light. The trail itself would be really nice to do a trail run as I can imagine. Shortly we could see the beach below and carefully navigated a set of stairs down. People are warned to venture near the cliffs as erosion may unexpectedly occur.

Rare maritime chaparral in the area
Rare maritime chaparral in the area
The Red Butte with people on top seen from a distance
The Red Butte with people on top seen from a distance
Passing through a few Torrey Pines
Passing through a few Torrey Pines
On top of the Red Butte
On top of the Red Butte
Find myself enjoying the highest part of the reserve with a jump shot
Find myself enjoying the highest part of the reserve with a jump shot
On the wide open beach trail with some runners resting
On the wide open beach trail with some runners resting
More of the beach trail after the descent
More of the beach trail after the descent
Finally the view of the beach and the Flat Rock
Finally the view of the beach and the Flat Rock

The Torrey Pines State Beach and essential info on the next page…

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Ferdz
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.