Site Seen: Torrey Pines State Reserve

    Sure, sunset at the Cliffs is pretty. Come dusk, take your current love interest and a couple of beers and walk a few minutes at dusk, and soon you’ll be enjoying a great view and a nice buzz. Everybody’s happy.

    Hillary Elder/Guardian

    But consider an alternative spot for appreciating natural beauty. Barely a few miles north of campus is the Torrey Pines Reserve, a California state park open from 8 a.m. to sunset — which probably means, “Leave when you can’t see the hiking trail anymore.” The park is situated off of Highway 101 next to Torrey Pines Beach with enough trails to accommodate any fitness level, except perhaps that of a total sloth who spent the last three weeks drinking.

    Taking a hike is inarguably a dorky thing to do on a Saturday, but for those not troubled by the idea, the beauty of this preserve is worth it. Ellen Browning Scripps had a big hand in its creation, once buying the land and willing it to the people of San Diego after her death. Botanists and naturalists helped create plans to keep the environment stable, ensuring that no non-native plants were brought in to disrupt the ecosystem and that the titular trees weren’t cultivated to the exclusion of all else.

    Those trees, the Torrey Pines, are the rarest pines in North America and some of the strangest-looking, having been twisted into odd, gnarled shapes by winds. The park’s terrain blends a striking contrast between green plants and reddish earth, and it’s not uncommon for hang-gliders and the occasional aircraft hobbyist coming from the Glider Port to make runs past the park cliffs. In addition to all that, you get sea air, awe-inspiring views, trails and sunsets that promise to be even more colorfully picturesque now that the rains have finally started. Get out and appreciate a bit of San Diego coastline that hasn’t caved to Southern California’s ravenous development monster.

    16500 North Torrey Pines Road

    San Diego, CA 92037

    General parking: $6 weekdays, $8 weekends/holidays

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