In the celebration of our 5th wedding anniversary this year, we placed an emphasis on our commitment to being healthy and fit together. Living in Colorado and sharing our posts with friends and family has helped motivate us to stay in shape and continue to push ourselves further. On the weekend of May 29th, we headed to sunny San Diego to complete our very first half marathon, part of the San Diego Rock n Roll Series.
In addition to a successful and enjoyable first race, we had the opportunity to hike some scenic coastline trails in and around San Diego. A short drive north of the city led us to the exquisite Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve. Torrey Pines is 2000 acres worth of wild Southern California landscape, a preservation of a much earlier time in California history when Spanish explorers first lay eyes on the sweeping sands and sandstone bluffs that border the great Pacific. The state reserve is a unique hiking experience from the moment of arrival. Free beach parking is available near the north entrance of the park, but very limited. We parked here and hiked uphill 15 min to reach the various trailheads. Alternatively, parking is available inside the park for 15 dollars and allows visitors to drive to the top and park next to the visitor’s center.
After hiking uphill, we first explored the Guy Fleming Trail. This 3/4 mile loop is often overlooked in favor of Beach Trail, but we highly recommend it. Taking this short loop gave us the opportunity to see the famous Torrey Pines, the rarest native pine in the US. They are characterized by broad open-crowns that form large canopies. In addition to their unique appearance, Torrey Pines are extremely resilient. They have to survive in extreme drought, poor sand that hardly qualifies as soil, and the hot sun. Their location on the coast makes them susceptible to sudden and powerful storms. Nonetheless, the species continues to survive. The Guy Fleming trail also offers sweeping ocean vistas. The unique sandstone formations are also seen here providing a dramatic backdrop to the deep blue Pacific. Seen below are photos of a pine canopy we encountered on the loop and the oceans overlooks.
After completing this Trail, we continued up the road on foot and passed the Visitors Center. The trailhead for the most popular Beach Trail is found in the parking lot directly across from the center. Reaching the beach and the famous “flat rock”, requires downhill travel on a steep sandy trail for about 3/4 of a mile. Along the way, we explored a few spurs of this trail which led to more beach and ocean vistas. Though we only saw a lizard as part of our wildlife experience here, there were several signs dotting the trail warning of the presence of rattlesnakes. See photographs below.
As we approached the beach, the trail became steeper and more rugged. One section required skirting over a few rocks and concluded with a steep staircase that led to the sand below.
At the base, we encountered Flat Rock. Flat rock is a sea stack that remains after wave erosion took away most of the Delmar Formation which is sedimentary rock that is 48,000,000 years old! The tide was low, so we rolled our pants legs up and climbed atop flat rock. Various tide pools lay atop the rock, and allowed us to gaze at a colorful array of marine life. We saw shore and hermit crabs, mussel beds, and the unique goose barnacles. Torrey Pine’s is truly a biologist’s playground of exploration.
We concluded our hike by a long stroll along the beach back to our car. We let the cold ocean water wash over our feet as we gazed at the impressive sandstone cliffs that bordered us opposite the ocean. The cracks,caves, and depositions in the walls of the cliffs were fascinating but we are biologists not geologists and cannot explain the incredible changes and processes of the earth that led to its current state.
We highly recommend visiting Torrey Pines Nature Reserve. It is a natural oasis, nestled in between very urban areas. We’ve also included some other pictures in our gallery from our explorations of La Jolla Cove and various other San Diego attractions.