Tag Archives: domestic

Local San Diego Review: Torrey Pines State Reserve

Located between La Jolla and Del Mar, Torrey Pines State Reserve is a fun coastal hiking, running or biking playground. The hiking is pretty easy, but it’s also fun and comes with spectacular views up and down the San Diego coastline.

You can basically hike all of the trails in the park in half a day, and then hike down to the beach to spend a few hours in the sun and water.

Torrey Pines State Reserve is also one of two places in the world where you can see the rare Torrey Pine Tree. They grow naturally only here and on Santa Rosa Island in the Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Ventura and Santa Barbara.

When we visited, we parked along the coast, and walked into the reserve via the hill from the north entrance. If there is parking available, you can park in the lot at the top of the hill, at the bottom by the beach, or in another lot off Carmel Valley Road, however, fees are charged for parking in the lots in the state reserve.

Of Note, there is drinking water available at the north vehicle entrance to the reserve by the beach bathrooms, and at the start of the trails near the lodge. At the time of writing this, most of the other water sources (sinks & showers) have been turned off because of the drought in California.

We entered the park at the north entrance and walked in up the hill. Three quarters of the way up the hill, we stopped at the Guy Fleming Trail to check out a few overlooks and then continued on to the Torrey Pines Lodge (visitor center) to grab a map. The visitor’s center itself has a lot of great info about the area, especially if you are into finding out more about the animal and plant species around.

From the Lodge we hiked down the “Beach Trail” to Red Butte and then down Razor Point Trail to Razor Point.

From Razor Point we met up with the Beach Trail and headed down to the water to check out “Flat Rock” on the beach. It’s exactly what it sounds like…a big flat rock.

I highly suggest adding a stroll along the beach after hiking the trails of Torrey Pines. This stretch of coastline is particularly beautiful. I would recommend checking the tides, and walking on the beach at low tide because it can be a bit tough to navigate the rocks during high tide.

We decided to walk south toward La Jolla on the beach. You can basically walk as much or as little as you would like on this stretch of the beach. If you do chose to, you can walk all the way along the beach to La Jolla Shores (about 5 miles). However, about 1/2 – 3/4 of a mile or so south of Torrey Pines is a beach known as “Black’s Beach.” If you have little kids or just don’t want to be surprised by the sudden appearance of naked people, I would suggest turning around after about half a mile down the beach. Instead of walking toward La Jolla, you can also walk north along the beach toward Del Mar as an alternative. If you’re into it, by all means, venture through the unofficial nude beach and explore the beautiful coastline.

If you like walking, beautiful views and beaches, I highly recommend a hike in Torrey Pines. It’s not very physically demanding and it’s a great way to explore and see a beautiful part of San Diego.

Have you ever been to Torrey Pines? If you have any tips or want to share your favorite trail, comment below!

Channel Islands National Park: Kayaking Around Santa Cruz

During our camping trip to Santa Cruz we decided to take a kayaking tour around the island, exploring caves, admiring the beautiful scenery, learning about the history and geology of the island, and spotting wildlife in and out of the water.

Lucky for me, my nephew, Lucas, decided that he would love to go kayaking with me. We listened to the orientation, and then hopped into our double kayak to start cruising around the island.

Not so lucky for me, after about 30 minutes in the kayak, Lucas decided that he was good for most of the remainder of the trip and didn’t really need to paddle anymore. I got quite the workout maneuvering a double kayak mostly maneuvered by me, especially when we rounded the one side of the island straight into a nice headwind. My brother went into this excursion thinking he’d have it tough partnering with Camille, Lucas’ twin sister, but he certainly had the last laugh 🙂

Although my arms were couldn’t move for the remainder of the day following our kayaking adventure, it was truly an epic experience, and one I will not soon forget.

Navigating in and out of the caves was thrilling and beautiful.

The clarity of the water around the island is so incredible, you could see wildlife under the water from sitting in the kayak.

We got a visit from a curious and brave seal pup right off the side of our kayak. We also learned a lot about the interesting history of the island and its change from a Native American hunting ground to a private ranch, and finally to a National Park.

The tour company we booked this excursion with was called Aqua Sports, and they were great, however, I can’t really compare to the other tours aside from that they went a similar route as we did along the island, but didn’t seem to see quite as much as we did. The other tour companies include Santa Barbara Adventure Company and Channel Islands Kayak Center.

Another more budget friendly option for kayaking can be to rent or bring your own kayak over on your ferry. The most convenient option would be to rent from Island Packers. They do charge a small fee to transport the kayaks to the island, so if you rent kayaks, you will have to pay the cost of the rental and the cost to transport them as well. If you’ve never kayaked around the islands before, it’s definitely worth it to have the guides’ extensive knowledge of the island and the experience of navigating through the caves, as the tides can make it quite a challenge to get into and out of some of the caves.

During your visit to the Channel Islands National Park, I highly recommend spending some of your time out in the water around the islands. It’s truly an awesome experience.

Channel Islands National Park: Camping and Hiking on Santa Cruz Island

The Channel Islands National Park. One of the least visited National Parks in America…lucky for us!

Even though I spent 7 years living in Santa Barbara, I sadly never made it out to the Channel Islands. Ironically, now that we have moved down to San Diego, we made the trip to visit and camp on the islands.

In order to get to the Channel Islands, you have to take a boat across the approximately 26 mile wide channel. Island Packers have a monopoly are contracted with the National Park Service, and operate the ferries back and forth between the islands. The boats leave mostly out of Ventura Harbor, but they do have some that leave out of Oxnard.

If you’re camping on the island, the round trip fare is $78 per person. Also, you will need to reserve a campsite through Reserve America in addition to purchasing your boat ticket. So, as far as camping trips go, it is a bit on the expensive side due to the cost of the boat ride.

Tip: Be sure to check the availability of both the boat, and the campsites before booking anything, as there are more spaces on the boats than there are at the campsite!

Iphone_Channel_Islands5

Continue reading

Local San Diego Review: Hiking in the Cleveland National Forest

A mere 60 miles from San Diego lies the Cleveland National Forest, a playground for hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and backpackers. We recently spent 2 nights at the Laguna campground (checkout my review) and hiked various trails in the area.

We could walk just a few minutes out from our campsite in the Laguna Campground to all of the major trail heads in the area. It was awesome!

Using our guidebook A Foot and Afield in San Diego County by Jerry Schad and the National Forest map, we trekked across a good portion of the available trails. On the map below, we outlined all of the trails we hiked during our trip (the “O’s” outline the hike for day 1, and the “X’s” outline the hike for day two).

Cleveland_National_Forest42

Continue reading

Local San Diego Review: Laguna Campground

Laguna Campground is located in the Cleveland National Forest just under 60 miles from the city of San Diego. Close enough to spend more time camping and less time driving, yet far enough away to relax, unwind, and explore. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised and had an incredible experience camping here.

To get the to Cleveland National Forest you can either take the 78 through Ramona and Julian to Sunrise Highway or you can take the 8 East toward the desert to Sunrise Highway, depending on which part of the county you live in.

In my opinion, Laguna campground is probably one of the best campgrounds you could chose in the Cleveland National Forest area. The campground is pleasant, beautiful, peaceful, and so close to miles upon miles of great hiking trails. I could imagine that a weekend would be busier, but we were camping from Sunday-Tuesday, so crowds were nonexistent. In fact, there were only a handful of people staying on the entire campground. If you can avoid the weekend, I would highly recommend it.

Continue reading

Coalition Snow: Innovative Snowboards for Women, by Women

I recently had a chance to chat with Jen Gurecki, founder and CEO of Coalition Snow, and to try out one of their snowboards in Mammoth, California. I have admired this companies’ products and mission since I first heard about them, but after riding one of their boards, and getting an inside look at how the company was created and the people behind the brand, I am even more impressed.

Mammoth02

Jen has been skiing and living in the mountains for 20 years now, and is incredibly passionate about snow sports and the mountains. She originally grew up near Phoenix, but since moving to Flagstaff for college, she has lived in the mountains ever since. Jen wholeheartedly loves the snow and lives for those epic fresh powder days on the mountain.

Where did the idea for Coalition Snow come from? Continue reading

Tips & Tricks for Booking a Campsite in Yosemite During Peak Season

I’ve always wanted to go to Yosemite. This year, I’ve made it a priority to get there and check off this long standing bucket list item. Thanks to some help from my brother-in-law’s girlfriend, we are finally going to make this trip happen!

The first obstacle was to obtain Half Dome Permits in August. Thankfully, that panned out, as we all applied to the lottery to increase our chances, and we ended up getting offered way more permits than we actually needed. That’s my first tip, have several people in the group, if not all apply for the permits to hike Half Dome on your preferred dates, as the permits are limited in the peak season.

Sweet, now that we had Half Dome permits, we needed to actually figure out where we should camp, and how to get a site for the dates we needed. I knew it was tough to get a decent campsite closer than an hours drive from the main entrance to the National Park, but who knew it was more like trying to win the actual lottery??

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: