San Diego's Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Definitely not a rain forest

Torrey pine trees (Pinus torreyana) are the rarest pines in the U.S., and one of the rarest pines in the world. So when my tree hunting partner and I found ourselves in San Diego on a late winter business trip we decided to visit the 2000 acre Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and see these rare trees for ourselves.

Beautiful branching pattern

These pines are not known for their massive size (about 40 feet tall in the wild, but 80+ in cultivated landscapes) or age ('only' about 200 years), but their beauty rivals that of any tree. Torrey pines now only grow in the wild in a small area of coastal San Diego, and in a separate genetically distinct offshore population 175 miles away near Santa Barbara.

Long Torrey pine needles

The needles of the Torrey pine are very long, and can be used to make very beautiful, sturdy baskets. There are classes available in San Diego where one can learn to make these attractive functional vessels. I knew I should have taken basket weaving in university.

The San Diego natural reserve has areas of cliffs, canyons, mesas, and beach. The trees are found on the tops of the mesas, or hills, as well as in the gullies and canyons that cut through the park. The wilderness area is surrounded by the development and urban sprawl of the city, and it too would have succumbed to the bulldozer had it not been for forward thinking conservationists at the turn of the century.

This is the largest Torrey pine we saw in the reserve

These remaining wild trees are a remnant of a once vast coastal forest. Now they are restricted to this relatively tiny bit of wilderness in the middle of the city. What a gift, a treasure it is to have saved this precious resource for all to enjoy.

Torrey pine needle baskets


  1. Dog Training in San Diego5/5/11

    Fantastic picture and information.

  2. Dog Trainer,

    Thank you. I am glad you enjoyed this. We really enjoyed your beautiful city, and look forward to returning one day. Seeing the Torrey Pine Reserve was one of the highlights of our trip. As you surely know, beautiful beaches are close by.

  3. Dog Training in San Diego7/5/11

    I am glad that you guys enjoyed the city and the trip. All the best!


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