Sunday, July 8, 2012

Photo Essay: Torrey Pines Beach Trail's Unstable Cliffs



A little over two years ago, Edith and I explored the dangerous bluffs of Torrey Pines State Park during a trip to San Diego. It was clear we could've stayed all day there, and since we didn't get a chance to actually go down to the beach, I took the opportunity last weekend to return, this time braving the park's unstable cliffs.



The Beach Trail starts out simply and gently enough (after having walked up a endless access road from the beach parking lot)...



...soon revealing some of the park's namesake pine trees, which previously we'd only really seen in the distance...



...leading down to the beach along a very clear, well-marked trail.



The Beach Trail is close to the Parry Grove Trail which we'd taken before, whose unmaintained condition as a result of budget cuts has forced it to be temporarily shuttered, and so at first some similar sights were in view (Red Butte, etc.)...



...but then the path becomes decidedly...beachy.



Which is exactly what I'd wanted.



I remember paragliding over these cliffs, remarking to my instructor that the hikers must be crazy.



And now I have joined their ranks...



...along with the local wildlife.



The fragile condition of the bluffs and the cliffs makes it imperative that visitors stay on the trail.



The cliffs are so imposing and forbidding - much akin to the badlands - that I'm not sure who would want to climb them...



...though the trail does bring you within touching distance of them.



The Beach Trail is not very long, and not very steep...



...but it delivers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, through some lush vegetation...



...up to geologic formations that don't even look much like Southern California...



...reminiscent more of the caves and mesas of the American Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico).



The ocean is still quite cold this time of year, but that doesn't prevent beachgoers from setting up camp...



...walking along the beach...



...or getting into the water, as I did (at least, knee-deep).



It's a short, easy walk back to the beach parking lot from where the Beach Trail deposits you at Flat Rock, but it's worth it to take it slowly and absorb the surroundings, under ever-changing light, and a dramatic sky.

Related Reading:
Photo Essay: Dangerous Bluffs

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