With windswept sandstone cliffs, and stunning year-round views of the Pacific Ocean, Torrey Pines State Reserve is one of San Diego’s most popular parks. Even though it is a park that is popular with locals and visitors alike, few people realize that the park was established to protect the Torrey Pine, which is one of the rarest trees on the planet, as it only grows in and around the confines of the park and on Santa Rosa Island. While there are many spots within the park where one can walk under, view, and get close to the pinus torreyana, there is only one spot that demonstrates the risks that these rare trees still face, and that is the Parry Grove Trail.
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.