Even the $15 entry fee seemed not to be off-putting. There was quite a line of cars backed up to get into the already full parking lots.
The draw? Ruggedly beautiful coastal scenery on a hillside hosting North America's rarest pine trees.
There are only about 3000 Torrey pine trees here, restricted to the central San Diego County coastline. Here, in the coastal sage scrub habitat, they get just enough summer fog and winter and spring rains to endure. They naturally grow only 26-56 feet high here (though in cultivation to almost 150 feet tall), and are often twisted from coastal winds. The needles are in groups of 5 and about 10 inches long. The cones are stout and about 5 inches long. The gray bark is scaly-looking.
Sadly, aided by drought, an infestation of bark beetles is killing pine trees throughout southern California. The only way to stop the spread is to cut down the affected trees. One hundred Torrey pines had to be destroyed this winter.
Marlene and I walked a half mile of trails from the Visitor Center to Red Butte. We spent a little over an hour here. My cell phone photos are below.
Birds were sparse. The only species I saw with more than one individual represented were Common Ravens and Wrentits. Otherwise I saw or heard singletons of California Quail, Mourning Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Nuttall's Woodpecker, and Lesser Goldfinch.
Torrey Pines Website
|Torrey Pines State Reserve, California. June 21, 2015. Greg Gillson.|