One of the most popular parks in San Diego is Torrey Pines State Reserve. The park is home to the rarest pine tree in North America, the Torrey Pine; and also has a fantastic beach that stretches from La Jolla to the boundary of Del Mar. The reserve portion of the park also features a number of short hiking trails that travel through some of the park’s pine groves, and down to the beach. While all of these things and more make Torrey Pines State Reserve a great park and place to visit, the park is actually much larger than most visitors realize. As a matter of fact, the park encompasses the Reserve, the beach (Torrey Pines State Beach), the Los Penasquitos Lagoon, and the Torrey Pines Extension. Out of these four components, the most unknown area to most visitors and hikers is the Extension.
San Diego is an area that is honeycombed with many wilderness islands - from Mission Trails Regional Park, to the Cleveland National Forest, to the Black Mountain Open Space Preserve, along with many other city, state, and federal wilderness areas. The ecological diversity present in these parks provides wildlife with corridors from the desert and mountain regions to the coast, and from the coast back to the foothills and beyond. It also provides local hikers and visiting outdoorspeople with a diverse set of areas to experience and explore. To me, the crown jewel of these wilderness islands is Torrey Pines State Reserve, which is located along the coast in the North County portion of San Diego. I may be biased, because I used to work there, but let’s also be honest: there are few parks that have stunning eroded sandstone cliffs, great flora and fauna, and amazing beaches in North America, let alone the world.