Del Mar’s natural beauty, beach from Coaster!

I was careful to sit on the west side of the Coaster yesterday for my trip from San Diego to Encinitas. The very best views can be enjoyed from that side when riding the train through Del Mar.

I thought it would be fun to take photographs of the natural beauty. As we quickly moved through La Jolla out over Los Peñasquitos Lagoon I had my camera ready.

I snapped photographs nonstop as we flew over the marshy lagoon and past Torrey Pines State Beach, then up along the bluff’s edge toward Seagrove Park.

We were moving so fast that the nearby vegetation was a blur. But my small camera was able to capture the distant sandstone cliffs of Torrey Pines State Reserve, the broad Pacific Ocean’s beautiful white surf, people down below on the beach, and even a line of pelicans flying through the blue sky.

I altered these photos a bit, sharpening them and increasing contrast.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Los Peñasquitos Lagoon between winter storms.

Debris has been washed by the ocean under the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon bridge at Torrey Pines State Beach.
Debris has been washed by the ocean under the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon bridge at Torrey Pines State Beach.

This morning, the day after a severe winter storm, I visited Torrey Pines State Beach and the ocean inlet to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Arriving at high tide, I found myself astonished by the incredible power of nature. Turbulent waves were crashing onto the pedestrian walkway under the North Torrey Pines Road bridge.

I spent some time exploring near the state park’s North Parking Lot and its entrance. I then headed north along a path at the edge of sandstone cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I took many photographs, striving to capture nature’s awesome power and beauty.

And more winter storms are on the way!

Please read the photo captions to learn a bit more about this special place.

A lifeguard keeps an eye on wild surf at Torrey Pines State Beach.
A lifeguard keeps an eye on wild surf at Torrey Pines State Beach.
The friendly lifeguard said that waves can wash over the walkway during high tide at this time of the year.
The friendly lifeguard said that waves can wash over the walkway during high tide at this time of the year.
The bridge over the lagoon inlet during a very high tide. The storm-disturbed water appeared very muddy.
The bridge over the lagoon inlet during a very high tide. The storm-disturbed water appeared very muddy.
An information sign was pushed over by high winds from yesterday's storm. The power of nature is displayed.
An information sign was pushed over by high winds from yesterday’s storm. The power of nature is displayed.
Open to the Ocean. Over time, the lagoon mouth has filled in and reopened, changed shape and relocated many times.
Open to the Ocean. Over time, the lagoon mouth has filled in and reopened, changed shape and relocated many times.
Across the lagoon to the south rises beautiful Torrey Pines State Reserve, home of the endangered Torrey pine, rarest pine tree in North America.
Across the lagoon to the south rises beautiful Torrey Pines State Reserve, home of the endangered Torrey pine, rarest pine tree in North America.
Looking west along Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Light shines on a sheet of water swollen by high tide.
Looking west along Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Light shines on a sheet of water swollen by high tide.
This coastal marsh in San Diego's North County is a special place where wildlife is abundant.
This coastal marsh in San Diego’s North County is a special place where wildlife is abundant.
The sandy beaches, sand dunes, sandstone cliffs and bluffs, provides the habitat for the Coastal Strand plant community.
The sandy beaches, sand dunes, sandstone cliffs and bluffs, provides the habitat for the Coastal Strand plant community.
A cheerful yellow bush sunflower.
A cheerful yellow bush sunflower.
Looking across the wetland toward the train bridge near the beach.
Looking across the wetland toward the train bridge near the beach.
Life in the Lagoon. Birds are the most commonly seen animals in the lagoon. Ample food and nesting materials allow many to live here year-round.
Life in the Lagoon. Birds are the most commonly seen animals in the lagoon. Ample food and nesting materials allow many to live here year-round.
A great egret stands in Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, patiently watching for fish in the water.
A great egret stands in Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, patiently watching for fish in the water.
People walk west from Carmel Valley Road into the North Beach Lot of Torrey Pines State Beach.
People walk west from Carmel Valley Road into the North Beach Lot of Torrey Pines State Beach.
Sign includes map of the San Diego Trans County Trail, which runs east from the ocean along Peñasquitos Creek, through Los Peñasquitos Canyon.
Sign includes map of the San Diego Trans County Trail, which runs east from the ocean along Peñasquitos Creek, through Los Peñasquitos Canyon.
Closed lifeguard Tower 5 at Torrey Pines State Beach is splashed by wild winter waves during high tide.
Closed lifeguard Tower 5 at Torrey Pines State Beach is splashed by wild winter waves during high tide.
Gazing down at powerful Pacific Ocean surf on a winter day between storms.
Gazing down at incoming Pacific Ocean surf on a winter day between storms.
Coaster train moves along tracks north of Torrey Pines State Beach, heading atop scenic sandstone cliffs into Del Mar.
Coaster train moves along tracks north of Torrey Pines State Beach, heading atop scenic sandstone cliffs into Del Mar.
A line of bicyclists head down Pacific Coast Highway from Del Mar toward Torrey Pines State Beach.
A line of bicyclists head down Pacific Coast Highway from Del Mar toward Torrey Pines State Beach.
Ocean waves crash toward the North Torrey Pines Road bridge over the entrance to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon.
Ocean waves crash toward the North Torrey Pines Road bridge over the entrance to Los Peñasquitos Lagoon.
Mud and debris under the bridge. The result of a strong winter storm and the mighty ocean.
Mud and debris under the bridge. The result of a strong winter storm and the mighty ocean.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a phone or small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

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Street art on Torrey Pines Road near UCSD.

Electrical box on North Torrey Pines Road near the gliderport intersection features colorful fish with huge eyeballs!
Electrical box on North Torrey Pines Road near the Gliderport intersection features colorful fish with huge eyeballs!

I walked around both the University of California San Diego and the Salk Institute in La Jolla this morning. Stay tuned to my blog and you’ll see why. (The next two posts are going to be very cool!)

As I headed up the sidewalk along North Torrey Pines Road back to my car, I spied all sorts of creative street art painted on utility boxes and transformers. In many instances, I believe, the art was produced by students at the university.

I was a student at UCSD’s Muir College decades ago. Wandering around the campus was like a brief voyage back in time. The years have gone by so very quickly…

Across from the North Campus of UCSD, this octopus carrying a book and donning a graduation cap is riding a surfboard!
Across from the North Campus of UCSD, this octopus carrying a book and donning a graduation cap is also riding a surfboard!
Another nearby box features street art in the form of a breaking ocean wave. Excellent surfing can be found nearby at Black's Beach.
Another nearby box features street art in the form of a breaking ocean wave. Excellent surfing can be found nearby at Black’s Beach.
Another side of the big utility box has yellow fish forming a triangle as they swim above seaweed.
Another side of the big utility box has yellow fish forming a triangle as they swim above seaweed.
And lastly we see a purplish seal on a surfboard!
And lastly we see a purple seal on a surfboard!
Another corner of the same intersection has a utility box with four cool images. This side shows a golfer taking a swing at the nearby Torrey Pines Golf Course.
Another corner of the same intersection has a utility box with four cool images. This side shows a golfer taking a swing at the nearby Torrey Pines Golf Course.
On this side we see the interior of a biotechnology lab. Of course, Salk Institute is about a 30 second walk from here!
On this side we see the interior of a biotechnology lab. Of course, the internationally famous Salk Institute building is about a 30 second walk from here!  You can just glimpse a part of the parking lot in this photo.  Stay tuned to this blog for more!
Also nearby is the Torrey Pines Gliderport. This fun street art depicts a couple of paragliders soaring above the Pacific Ocean!
Also nearby is the Torrey Pines Gliderport. This fun street art depicts a couple of paragliders soaring above the Pacific Ocean!  The Gliderport is one of my favorite places.
The fourth side of the box shows the natural beauty along the coast of La Jolla. Pine trees rise atop eroded sandstone cliffs.
The fourth side of the box shows the natural beauty along the coast of La Jolla. Pine trees rise atop eroded sandstone cliffs.
Now for some more street art along North Torrey Pines Road. I took this photo while walking along the sidewalk.
Now for some more street art along North Torrey Pines Road. I took this photo while walking along the sidewalk.
This urban art seems to depict a city inside the form of a tree.
This urban art looks to me like a city inside the outline of a Christmas tree.
More great street art on a utility box.
More great urban street art on a utility box.
Wisdom written for all to see. Make time to make art and make love.
Wisdom written for all to see. Make time to make art and make love.
On the next side of this box we see a hand with brush, making beautiful art.
On the next side of this box we see a hand with brush, making beautiful art.
A transformer box with fish and whales swimming among trees and flowers!
A transformer box with fish and whales swimming among trees and flowers!
Human creativity expressed in public with paint.
Human creativity expressed in public with paint.
A bucket for cigarette butts next to the sidewalk. Fish! Don't Smoke! Now that was an unexpected discovery!
A bucket for cigarette butts next to the sidewalk. Fish! Don’t Smoke! Now that was an unexpected discovery!
One side of a box near an entrance to UCSD. Hands of La Jolla by Rebecca Asch. It's holding food.
One side of a box near an entrance to UCSD. Hands of La Jolla by Rebecca Asch. It’s holding food.
Another hand. A broken pencil and perhaps caffeine for those late nights of studying.
Another hand. A broken pencil and perhaps caffeine for those late nights of studying.
A guy in scuba gear seems to love a mermaid. The spray painted words Silence is Violence might have been applied later, or perhaps not.
An underwater guy in scuba gear and a pink mermaid seem to be in love. The spray painted words Silence is Violence probably was applied later, or perhaps not.
Colorful blossoms on branches.
Colorful blooms on branches. I think those might be Japanese cherry blossoms on the right.
There are many crows (and seagulls) that flock in this coastal area near UCSD. They perch on lampposts all over the place. Crows are taking flight right here, as well.
There are many crows (and seagulls) that flock in this coastal cliff area near UCSD. They perch on lampposts all over the place. Crows are taking flight right here, as well!
More cool street art. Two crows fly across the angled sides of a utility box on North Torrey Pines Road.
More cool street art. Two crows fly across the angled sides of a utility box on North Torrey Pines Road.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego!  Are you curious?  There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Taking flight at the Torrey Pines Gliderport!

Paraglider high above the Pacific Ocean catches a warm summer updraft created by sandstone cliffs at San Diego's famous Torrey Pines Gliderport.
Paraglider high above the Pacific Ocean catches a warm summer updraft created by sandstone cliffs at San Diego’s famous Torrey Pines Gliderport.

The world-famous Torrey Pines Gliderport is possibly the coolest, most awesome place in all of San Diego. Hang gliders and paragliders float silently in the sky above rugged sandstone cliffs and the blue Pacific Ocean, painting a rare scene that few will ever forget. Here are some photos that I took this morning.

I arrived too early–the wind necessary to sustain gliders, I learned, doesn’t usually kick in until about 11:30. No worries. There were so many interesting things to photograph, and the weather and scenery were so pleasant, I just moseyed around and sat here and there and let each moment unfold.

Please enjoy the following photos and make sure to read the captions for more detailed explanations!

The Torrey Pines Gliderport was established in 1928 and is an active aviation facility. It is also a favorite place to enjoy incredible natural scenery and perhaps get a bite to eat.
The Torrey Pines Gliderport was established in 1928 and is an active aviation facility. It’s also a favorite place to enjoy incredible natural scenery and perhaps get a bite to eat.
Looking north along the San Diego coast from a point above Black's Beach. A solitary figure looks out at the mighty ocean from atop a weathered sandstone cliff.
Looking north along the San Diego coast from a point above Black’s Beach. A solitary figure looks out at the mighty ocean from atop a weathered sandstone cliff.
A hang glider is moved on the grassy hill near the Gliderport. Students, instructors and experienced gliders alike must wait for a good, steady wind.
A hang glider is moved on the grassy hill near the Gliderport. Students, instructors and experienced gliders alike must wait for a good, steady wind.
While I wandered about I made a cool discovery! Atop the hill beside the Torrey Pines Gliderport, the folks of Sky Falconry were getting ready for a morning class.
While I wandered about I made a cool discovery! Atop the hill beside the Torrey Pines Gliderport, the experts of Sky Falconry were getting ready to teach a morning class. Anyone can fly a bird of prey!
Several hawks trained to fly and return on command have a chance to stretch their wings before the class of falconry students arrives.
Several hawks trained to fly and return on command have a chance to stretch their wings before the class of falconry students arrives.
Taking flight indeed! A beautiful raptor flies past its handler. Beyond, the blue Pacific Ocean stretches to the horizon.
Taking flight indeed! A beautiful raptor flies past its handler. Beyond, the blue Pacific Ocean stretches to the horizon.
The Sky Falconry class has begun and I take another photo, then leave these good people in peace. There is much else to see...
The Sky Falconry class has begun and I take another photo, then leave these good people in peace. There is much else to see…
A view looking south from the Torrey Pines Gliderport. Someone stands on the lifeguard perch that overlooks the beach below. La Jolla Cove and a bit of Scripps Pier can be seen in the background.
A view looking south from the Torrey Pines Gliderport. Someone stands on the lifeguard perch that overlooks the beach below. La Jolla Cove and the end of Scripps Pier can be seen in the background.
Some activity! Someone wearing a bulky but lightweight paragliding harness sets out across the grass from the patio area at the Torrey Pines Gliderport.
Some activity! Someone wearing a bulky but lightweight paragliding harness sets out across the grass from the patio area at the Torrey Pines Gliderport.
Students have begun to learn the basics of paragliding, including how to safely launch. Not enough wind to take to the air yet.
Students have begun to learn the basics of paragliding, including how to safely launch. Not enough wind to take to the air yet.
A quick photo through the Torrey Pines Gliderport's casual patio area, with picnic benches. I spotted an outdoor grill and pool table nearby!
A quick photo through the Torrey Pines Gliderport’s casual patio area, with picnic benches. I spotted an outdoor grill and pool table nearby!
The Giderport's well-stocked Cliffhanger Café has yummy hamburgers . . . and jaw-dropping views nearby!
The Giderport’s well-stocked Cliffhanger Café has yummy hamburgers . . . and jaw-dropping views just steps away!
A short hallway that leads into the Torrey Pines Gliderport store features many photos of past hang gliding and paragliding action.
A short hallway that leads into the Torrey Pines Gliderport store features many photos of past hang gliding and paragliding adventures.
Just south of the Gliderport's launch area, a bench makes a perfect place to experience sun, ocean and sea breeze.
Just south of the Gliderport’s launch area, a bench makes a perfect place to experience sun, ocean and sea breeze.
A forlorn concrete monument stands near the dirt parking lot, south of the Torrey Pines Gliderport. On one side a tile mosaic depicts a sailboat and gliders in the sky.
A forlorn concrete monument stands near the dirt parking lot, south of the Torrey Pines Gliderport. On one side a tile mosaic depicts a sailboat and gliders in the sky.
On the opposite side is a corroded historical marker. To honor the spirit, ingenuity, and enthusiasm of the pioneers who flew gliders in the 1930's at Torrey Pines.
On the opposite side is a corroded historical marker. To honor the spirit, ingenuity, and enthusiasm of the pioneers who flew gliders in the 1930’s at Torrey Pines.
Another look north at beautiful high cliffs of eroded sandstone. The coastline melts away into San Diego's North County.
Another look north at beautiful high cliffs of eroded sandstone. The coastline melts away into San Diego’s North County.  No gliders yet!
A couple of surfers prepare to descend the cliff to Black's Beach far below. For those who don't follow the established trail, it can be a very treacherous descent, and one occasionally sees rescues on the local news.
A couple of surfers prepare to descend the cliff to Black’s Beach far below. For those who don’t follow the established trail, it can be a very treacherous descent, and one occasionally sees rescues on the local news.
A raised outdoor eating area at the Torrey Pines Gliderport is the perfect place to watch all the aerial action. But still too early...
A raised outdoor eating area at the Torrey Pines Gliderport is the perfect place to watch all the aerial action. But still too early…not enough wind…
The Torrey Pines Gliderport bills itself as America's premier flight school. One can enjoy tandem paraglider and hang glider flights with an instructor.
The Torrey Pines Gliderport bills itself as America’s premier flight school. One can enjoy tandem paraglider and hang glider flights with an expert instructor.
The breeze has picked up a bit. More students are trying out their equipment on safe land. A happy dog is loving life.
The breeze has picked up a bit. More students are trying out their equipment on safe land. A happy dog is loving life.
A paragliding student learns the ropes. In the distance you can see the equally famous Torrey Pines Golf Course, which hosted the epic 2008 U.S. Open.
A paragliding student learns the ropes. In the distance you can see the equally famous Torrey Pines Golf Course, which hosted the epic 2008 U.S. Open.
More spectators have arrived and the nearby grassy hill has become more active. The falconry class is still underway.
More spectators have arrived and the nearby grassy hill has become more active. The falconry class is still underway.
Almost enough lift!
Almost enough lift!
Carrying all the paragliding gear back up the hill. When actually gliding, if too much elevation is lost, some gliders will land on the beach. Then the climb is much, much worse!
Carrying all the paragliding gear back up the hill. When actually gliding, if too much elevation is lost, some gliders will land on the beach. Then the climb is much, much worse!
Just a cool shot of a paraglider spreading her wings.
Just a cool shot of a paraglider spreading her wings.
Finally! The breeze is pretty good now! The first paraglider is ready to launch! Lift is provided by wind that rises along the long cliffside.
Finally! The breeze is pretty good now! The first paraglider is ready to launch! Lift is provided by wind that pushes up against the long cliffside.
And he's off, among the birds!
And he’s off, among the birds!
A tranquil ride above and through the beautiful blue. Paragliders wind their way back and forth along the cliffs, catching the updraft.
A tranquil ride above and through the beautiful blue. Paragliders wind their way back and forth along the cliffs, catching the updraft.
A photo that provides a hint of why the Torrey Pines Gliderport is such a special place.
A photo that provides a hint of why the Torrey Pines Gliderport is such a special place.
A fantastic ride through the sky!
A fantastic ride through the sky!
Another paraglider has joined the aerial dance. The lower part of his body is enclosed in a cool-looking pod harness.
Another paraglider has joined the slow aerial dance. The lower part of his body is enclosed in a cool-looking pod harness.
Paragliding above Black's Beach, a favorite destination for surfers and Southern California nudists!
Paragliding above Black’s Beach, a favorite destination for surfers and Southern California nudists!
Just gliding along.
Just gliding along.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego!  Are you curious?  There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Hiking Torrey Pines State Reserve’s Beach Trail.

Hiking to the beach from trailhead in Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Hiking to the beach from a trailhead in Torrey Pines State Reserve.

Today is National Trails Day, so it seems the perfect time to blog about one hike I took recently at Torrey Pines State Reserve! The hike was down the Beach Trail, which is one of the most popular hikes in this beautiful place. The coming photos demonstrate why!

The 3/4 mile downhill Beach Trail begins at the edge of a small parking lot near the Torrey Pines State Reserve’s historic lodge, which serves as the visitor center. On this spring day, many small flowers were blooming along the trail, and lots of hikers were enjoying the sunshine as well. Should you ever go hiking here, make sure you wear good shoes because it can be a bit steep in places and the sand often makes slippery footing.

Hikers take beautiful trail through coastal chaparral.
Hikers take beautiful trail through coastal chaparral.
People enjoy vistas from atop sandstone formation.
People enjoy vistas from atop sandstone formation.
Endangered Torrey pine seen beyond fork in the trail.
Endangered Torrey pine can be seen beyond fork in the trail.

You can observe many more examples of the endangered Torrey pine tree in the north part of the reserve. See my post about the Guy Fleming Trail!

The blue Pacific Ocean comes into view!
The blue Pacific Ocean comes into view!
Typical scenery along trails of Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Typical rugged scenery along trails of Torrey Pines State Reserve.
The Beach Trail is often covered in fine sand.
The Beach Trail is often covered in fine sand.
Now we're getting really close to our destination!
Now we’re getting really close to our destination!

It gets much steeper as one approaches the ocean. You can see La Jolla way off in the hazy distance.

Erosion of layered sandstone creates unusual, fluid forms.
Erosion of layered sandstone creates unusual, fluid forms.
Flat Rock can be seen on Torrey Pines State Beach.
Flat Rock can be seen below on Torrey Pines State Beach.
Steps head steeply down from cliffs.
Steps head steeply down from cliffs.
Hikers arrive at the beach!
Hikers arrive at the beach!

The transition from the reserve to the beach seems very sudden as you hike down from the cliffs. Suddenly you hear the surf and see many sea birds. It’s an amazing experience!

Down on the sand.
Down on the sand.
People walk north along Torrey Pines State Beach.
People walk north along Torrey Pines State Beach.

A walk north along the beach about a mile or so brings one back to the main Torrey Pines State Reserve parking lot by the Pacific Coast Highway. If you’d like to enjoy a relatively easy nature hike, I’d highly recommend this one! (Going uphill is more difficult!)

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.

The historic Lodge at Torrey Pines State Reserve.

Sign at entrance to Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Sign at entrance to Torrey Pines State Reserve.

I hope you enjoyed my last blog post, where I described a hike around the Guy Fleming Trail in Torrey Pines State Reserve. Now I’d like to take you up to see the Lodge.

We’re going to start at the entrance of Torrey Pines State Reserve, just off the Pacific Coast Highway. We’ll be climbing the steep Torrey Pines Park Road all the way to the historic Lodge.

Looking south along Torrey Pines State Beach.
Looking south along Torrey Pines State Beach.

As we begin our climb we bend away from the beach, but pause for a moment to observe the high sandstone cliffs to our south. This wonderful beach, which extends for many miles, will be the subject of a future blog post!

Heading up steep Torrey Pines Park Road.
Heading up steep Torrey Pines Park Road.
Entering a zone full of endangered Torrey pines.
Entering a zone full of endangered Torrey pines.
Torrey pines stand atop eroded sandstone cliffs.
Torrey pines stand atop eroded sandstone cliffs.

The Torrey pine is an endangered tree found only here and on Santa Rosa island. We’ll learn more about it shortly…

View of lagoon and ocean from High Point Overlook.
View of lagoon and ocean from High Point Overlook.

Near the top of the road we come to High Point Overlook, a short trail that heads up some steps for a 360 degree view. Here we’re looking north and seeing a bit of the Los Peñasquitos Lagoon.

Sign about philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.
Sign about philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.

This sign stands among some Torrey pines at the top of the overlook. It reads:

The philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps (1836-1932) holds a special and endearing place in the annals of Torrey Pines. Without Miss Scripps, this mesa might resemble what you see to the east: a tangle of roads, houses and businesses.

Although the City of San Diego had set aside some land to preserve the Torrey pines, the best and densest groves remained in the hands of developers who planned to subdivide and commercialize the area. Miss Scripps bought these lots in 1908, 1911, and 1912.

She hired naturalist Guy Fleming to care for and protect this wonderful place in 1921 and funded the construction of his house on the property.

The Torrey Pines Lodge, now used as a visitor center and ranger station, was built with her funds and donated to the people of San Diego. It was designed by noted architects Richard Requa and Herbert Lewis Jackson. It opened as a restaurant in 1923.

Finally, she bequeathed the City of San Diego the groves of Torrey pines, asking that they “be held in perpetuity as a public park,” and requesting, “that care be taken to preserve the natural beauty of the area” in 1932.

Today’s visitors may thank Ellen Browning Scripps for having the foresight to protect this unique place in the California landscape.

Nearing Torrey Pines State Reserve's historic Lodge.
Nearing Torrey Pines State Reserve’s historic Lodge.

A little more walking takes us to our main destination, the Lodge. An old adobe built in 1922, it originally served as a restaurant! According to the official website, it had stumpy tables, chintz curtains, lampshades made of Torrey Pine needles, and a jukebox! Back in those days, Model T cars had difficulty going up the steep hill, because they didn’t have a fuel pump, and instead relied on a gravity system. When the steeply climbing cars conked out, drivers were told to continue up the hill in reverse!

Banner commemorates 150 years of California State Parks.
Banner commemorates 150 years of California State Parks.
Gap in Lodge's stucco shows original adobe bricks.
Gap in Lodge’s stucco shows original adobe bricks.

This is near the front door. The sign below reads:

When the Lodge was built in 1922-23, thousands of bricks were made on site using local sand and clay. The gap in the stucco coating above deliberately reveals the original adobe bricks.

Portion of large sign outside describing coastal flowers.
Portion of large sign outside describing coastal flowers.
Interior of Lodge is a museum and visitor center.
Interior of Lodge is a museum and visitor center.

I love the interior of the Lodge. There’s so much interesting stuff to see, and so much history and natural charm jammed into one place. The Lodge is open daily 9 AM to 6 PM during summer daylight saving time and 10 AM to 4 PM during winter standard time. Ranger guided hikes are available on weekends.

One of many exhibits in the visitor center.
One of many educational exhibits.
Mountain lion patiently watches visitors to the Lodge.
Mountain lion patiently watches visitors to the Lodge.
Plaque in Lodge credits Ellen Browning Scripps.
Plaque in Lodge credits Ellen Browning Scripps.
Old fireplace shows decades of use.
Old fireplace shows decades of use.

The plaque above the old fireplace reads:

Torrey Pines Lodge dedicated to Dr. John Torrey, for whom, in 1850, these unique trees were named Pinus torreyana by Dr. C. C. Parry.

Sign behind Lodge describes Torrey pines woodlands.
Sign behind Lodge describes Torrey pines woodlands.

Now we’ve headed back outside, around the back of the Lodge. Numerous Torrey pines are all around us, and benches are sprinkled here and there with sweeping views eastward toward developed Carmel Valley and Interstate 5.

This sign reads:

The Torrey Pine tree is one of the most rare pine trees in all of North America. The young trees that you see today may be the remnants of what was once an ancient coastal forest. This natural plant community is found only in nutrient-poor sandy soils, along the sandstone bluffs, canyons, and ravines, of Torrey Pines State Reserve and on Santa Rosa Island. In this harsh arid landscape, coastal fog is vital to the tree’s survival, acting as an air conditioner, shielding the needles from the hot sun and providing most of the moisture for the trees. The twisted and gnarled trees along the bluffs often lean inland, growing close to the ground, as a result of the ocean winds and pruning by salt crystals in the air.

School kids learn about local flora and fauna.
School kids learn about local flora and fauna.

A ranger was giving a bunch of school kids a talk about Torrey Pines State Reserve. They’ll remember this special place for the rest of their lives.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines State Reserve is a must see!
The Lodge at Torrey Pines State Reserve is a must see!

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.

Torrey Pines State Reserve’s Guy Fleming Trail.

Guy Fleming Trail sign on Torrey Pines Park Road.
Guy Fleming Trail sign on Torrey Pines Park Road.

My very, very, very favorite place in all of San Diego County is Torrey Pines State Reserve. It’s located along the Pacific Ocean in northern La Jolla, between the famous Torrey Pines Golf Course and Del Mar. I took a trip there this morning! I got so many pics, I’ll break my visit up into several blog posts!

Let me start by taking you around the Guy Fleming Trail loop.

There are many hiking trails to explore in Torrey Pines State Reserve. Reaching this particular trailhead requires a short hike or drive from the entrance gate up steep Torrey Pines Park Road. As you head on up, you see numerous pine trees growing atop and clinging to eroded sandstone cliffs. These are the endangered Torrey pines (Pinus torreyana). They can only be found here and on the small island of Santa Rosa, off the coast of Santa Barbara. A good concentration of them can be seen on the Guy Fleming Trail.

Diversity amid adversity on the Guy Fleming Trail.
Diversity amid adversity on the Guy Fleming Trail.

Here we’ve stepped onto the looping 2/3 mile easy level trail. We’re going to proceed counterclockwise. Look at the sign. It reads: The Guy Fleming Trail features a variety of habitats and rare plants. Where else in the world can you find cacti and ferns growing side-by-side under the canopy of a Torrey Pine tree? As you walk along this trail, consider the variety of biomes that you see and factors that create them. Not only must plants adapt to southern California’s climate of hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters, but also variables of solar exposure, salt-laden winds, and erosion.

Trail passes under many endangered Torrey pines.
Trail passes under many endangered Torrey pines.
Twisted branches of Torrey pines in the State Reserve.
Wind-twisted branches of Torrey pines in the State Reserve.
Walkers pause to enjoy a breathtaking ocean view.
Walkers pause to enjoy a breathtaking ocean view.

Here we are emerging above the wide Pacific Ocean. These ladies are gazing off into the blue distance. As I came up to them today, they asked excitedly: “Did you see the whale?” A gray whale migrating back northward to the Bering Sea was lingering just beyond the breakers, touching the surface and spouting every few minutes! This whale seemed to be heading north from Mexico a bit late. It’s almost May!

Looking north near a scenic overlook on the Guy Fleming Trail.
Looking north near a scenic overlook on the Guy Fleming Trail.

This is one reason why Torrey Pines State Reserve is one of my all-time favorite places. Incredible views!  You can see a portion of Los Peñasquitos Marsh Natural Preserve and Lagoon.

Torrey Pines State Reserve entrance gate far below.
Torrey Pines State Reserve entrance gate far below.
Mojave yucca grow beside amazing trail at edge of steep cliff.
Mojave yucca grow beside amazing trail at edge of steep cliff.

Now we’re heading south along the edge of the cliff. Torrey Pines State Beach is far below. When it’s possible to spy beach-goers, they’re very tiny!

Yellow sea dahlias high above foaming breakers.
Yellow sea dahlias high above foaming breakers.

You can’t hear the crashing waves, but the mighty expanse of
ocean seen from above makes a lasting impression!

Pink sand verbenas add bright color to a beautiful walk.
Pink sand verbenas add bright color to a beautiful walk.

It’s springtime and many native flowers are in bloom. These dry, brittle hillsides are covered with coastal sagebrush and chaparral and during the dry summer can appear quite brown and desolate.

Trail heading down toward another scenic overlook.
Trail heading down toward another scenic overlook.
Looking south over a sculpted sandstone canyon.
Looking south over a sculpted sandstone canyon.

Another fantastic view. Many beautifully eroded sandstone canyons run through the State Reserve.  You’ll see more in upcoming blog posts.

A glance back toward the ocean and a lone walker.
A glance back toward the ocean and a lone walker.

We’ve nearly come full circle. The sunshine and warm ocean breeze, the views, majestic Torrey pines, cacti and flowers…you really need to walk the Guy Fleming Trail to fully experience its magnificence!

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