California Treasure: The Torrey Pine

Hiked the Torrey Pine State Reserve yet? It's a beaut.

A TREASURED TREE: Every state has its own flavor of flora and the trees that make it proud, so proud they often end up on stamps or postcards, and rightly so. Then there's California, and you know where we're about to go with this. We have the redwoods and the sequoias and some of the oldest living things on earth, the Bristlecone pines near the Eastern Sierra. Plus, yep, those gorgeous Torrey pines near La Jolla. Don't you wish there could be a tree loaner program, where our state could send a redwood or two, and maybe a Torrey pine, out on the road for a month, so other people can know the wonder? We're just thinking aloud here; the Capitol Christmas Tree makes a similar tour each year. Of course, that means the trees leaving the ground, permanently, and we don't want that. We just don't want to be tree hogs, because it sometimes feels that the bulk of arboreal wonder is found right here.

A VISIT TO THE TORREY PINES... And because the redwoods and sequoias tend to take up a lot of mental tree space in all of our heads -- with good reason -- we're alighting upon the Torrey Pines State Reserve, one of the quickest ways Southern Californians can have that special tree experience. The reserve is actually within San Diego city limits -- one of those quirky facts that can induce a "huh?" or two -- but you'll feel away. The eight miles of trails wend by the pines, trees that are very much protected (so much so that dogs are not permitted in the reserve, nor are a number of activities, like picnicking). Called "our nation's rarest pine tree," the Torrey pine is very much a beloved symbol of the area. (Check out the nearby Lodge at Torrey Pines for artistic sightings.) So a day strolling in the reserve, without a lot of other to-dos on your schedule, is the ideal way to soak up some California-style rare tree-ness, without driving up to the redwoods or sequoias.

Oh, and how "rare" do we mean? The pines are only located in the reserve and on Santa Rosa Island near Santa Barbara.

Nope, we take back. We don't want to send out any California trees on a roadshow. But we're not selfish; we just think people should come here and see our natural green growing things, like the nation's rarest pine.

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