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An eternal explorer, Carmel Valley resident and travel writer Cynthia Dial doesn’t have to travel far for a world-class hiking destination.
In quest of travel articles I’ve hiked in some exceptional spots . . . from Maui’s Seven Sacred Pools to British Columbia’s Canadian Rockies to Wilder Kaiser in the Austrian Alps. But once home I always head to the coast for my daily fix – a morning walk at Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Here I’ve been in the company of hikers, bikers, rollerbladers and practitioners of tai chi, and I’ve observed flocks of sea gulls, schools of dolphins and a sole beached sea lion. Every day is different, every day is special.
The reserve is named for its indigenous five-needle pine, the Torrey Pine – America’s rarest native pine tree found only in the State Reserve area and on the island of Santa Rosa off the Santa Barbara coast.
But regardless of where I’ve traveled, I return with the same evaluation: Our nearby reserve is a local treasure, one that offers eight miles of hiking trails. Among my favorites:
Razor Point Trail (2/3 mile to the point) – Sprinkled with wildflowers in spring and dramatic views of the gorge, there are several overlooks into Canyon of the Swifts and a not-to-be-missed overlook at the tip of Razor Point.
Beach Trail (3/4 mile to Flat Rock and the beach) – It may be the least scenic but the trail’s beach access is popular, with final beach entry along steep, narrow steps. Tip: If you plan to hike down and walk north along the beach, remember to check the tides.
Guy Fleming Trail (2/3 mile loop) – It’s not a difficult trail – relatively level and not lengthy, but its beauty is unparalleled. With ocean vistas, sandstone formations, twisted, wind-shapen trees, seasonal flowers and two primetime overlooks – it’s my favorite.
The view of the coast from Del Mar to Carlsbad and beyond can be enjoyed from a wooden bench at the North Lookout. It also provides a birds-eye view of the Peñasquitos Lagoon, one of Southern California’s few remaining brackish water wetlands, which is home to three rare birds: the Light-footed Clapper Rail, Belding’s Savanna Sparrow and the California Least Tern.
The South Overlook is a popular romantic spot and sometimes host to small weddings. Its view: La Jolla (to the south), San Clemente and Santa Catalina Islands (on a clear day), dolphins (almost any day) and gray whales (in season).
As a freelance travel writer/photographer since 1988 Cynthia Dial has visited the world’s seven continents (most recently Antarctica) in quest of a good story . . . from getting her hair cut in Paris, horse whispering in Hawaii and touring Burma (Myanmar) only months after Aung San Suu Kyi’s release . . . to celebrating Summer Solstice within Finland’s Arctic Circle, hiking to Machu Picchu and visiting Molakai’s former leper colony atop a mule alongside a plunging cliff. In short, she experiences and writes about topics at the top of many readers’ bucket lists. Cynthia is author of the award-winning non-fiction book, Get Your Travel Writing Published. Now in its third printing it was published in London, England, and sold worldwide (U.S. distributor is McGraw-Hill). Among her outlets are national and international newspapers and magazines including Time magazine, Hemispheres, Destinations Weddings & Honeymoons, Shape, Dallas Morning News and the Toronto Star (which featured her around-the-world shopping column, Shopping Trips). She also contributes to TraveLife Magazine (distributed throughout Canada) and JustLuxe.com (a luxury portal receiving 2.1 million monthly hits). Radio experience includes World Footprints Radio (formerly Travel’n On) and the Travel Hub show on WorldTalk Radio, on which her No Passport Required segment was a regular feature. The travel-addicted writer admits that each time she steps onto an international flight, boards a train or steps onto a ship’s promenade deck to go to work, she congratulates herself on her career choice.