advertisement

The rare Torrey pine tree grows in only two places in the world: Santa Rosa Island, 175 miles northwest of San Diego, and here, at the north end of La Jolla. Even if the twisted shape of these awkwardly beautiful trees doesn't lure you to this spot, the equally scarce undeveloped coastal scenery should; this 2,000-acre reserve is one of San Diego's unique treasures, a taste of what Southern California's coast looked like a couple hundred years ago. The reserve encompasses the beach below, as well as a lagoon immediately north, but the focus is the 300-foot-high, water-carved sandstone bluffs that provide a precarious footing for the trees. In spring, the wildflower show includes blooming bush poppies, Cleveland sage, agave, and yucca. A half-dozen trails, all under 1.5 miles in length, travel from the road to the cliff edge or down to the beach; watch for migrating gray whales in winter or dolphins that patrol these shores year-round. Interpretive nature walks are held weekends and holidays at 10am and 2pm, departing from the small visitor center, built in the traditional adobe style of the Hopi Indians. Note: No facilities for food or drinks are available in the park. You can bring a picnic lunch, but you have to eat it on the beach; food and drink (other than water) are not allowed in the upper portion of the reserve. You could spend your whole day here, 90 minutes at least.