Torrey Pines Extension & Crest Canyon - Del Mar

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Torrey Pines Reserve Extension

13570 Mira Montana Dr. · Del Mar, ca

How to find us

From I-5: Exit Del Mar Heights Rd and head then West towards the Coast. Shortly up the hill, turn South (Left) onto Mercado Dr and then another left onto Cordero Dr. Follow to end and Right onto Mira Montana Dr. Drive to parking area at end.

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DIFFICULTY: EASY to MODERATE 2-3 miles (or less)
PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Novice +, Professionals always welcome!
ACCESS: Open to all, no charge

This trip is a yearly treat, and the trail won't change much but the plants and flowers and knowledge will be for the better! For 2019, we've had an extraordinary amount of rain and that means an extraordinary amount of bloom. We'll do a three part trip, with opportunities to head out after the Red Ridge trail, or continue on down the Margaret Fleming Trail to the canyon below with a completely different vegetation community and plant types. Instead of calling it a day - there's a third portion where we'll rejoin after lunch at Crest Canyon Park (just to the north). Crest Canyon has many similar environments and species, but is not as covered. We'll be more focused on doing stronger documentation including iNaturalist and tagging species for possible collections. Our CNPS San Diego Rare Plant Botanist Fred Roberts will join us to help identify and document the rare plants in both areas.

From the parking area, the Red Ridge heads out over a rocky expanse of mesa top that has many rare species such as Wart stemmed Ceanothus (C. tomentosus), the Del Mar Manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa ssp crassifolia), and the very imperiled and rare (in the wild) Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana ssp torreyana). Some of the common natives in bloom will be Celeveland sage (Salvia clevelandii), San Diego monkeyflower (Diplacus puniceus), Scarlet larkspur (Delphinium cardinale), Broomrose (Heliathemum scoparium), Bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida), and bulbs/corms like Blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum). The halfway point is the red ridge which looks out over Torrey Pines State Park and the Pacific beyond.

Further down the canyon trail, there's other species than come in along side us including the rare Coastal barrel cactus (Ferocactus viridescens) and Ashy spike moss (Selaginella cinerascens). Down the canyon, bloomers change to species like Wild cucumber (Marah macrocarpa), California bee plant (Scrophularia californica), SoCal milkvetch (Astragalus trichopdos var lonchus), Coast morning glory (Calystegia macrostegia), and many different "goldenbushes". Expect to see and hear many nesting birds like California gnatcatcher, mourning dove, warblers, quail, hummingbirds, wrens and cedar waxwings. I've seen San Diego horned lizard here too.

CREST CANYON: 1:30PM - 3:30PM+
After a quick lunch break, we'll meet again at the north trailhead on Durango Dr., just across Del Mar Hts Rd. (Where it turns to Lozana Rd). This portion of the trip will focus on finding rares in Crest Canyon and uploading them to iNaturalist. We'll be identifying morphological characters and the pace will be much slower as we employ a scientific method of transects off trail, and along the trail. In addition, we'll be looking for the extremely rare Dudleya brevifolia, which can often only be found in new areas when in bloom (April to May only).

Bring any gear, lunch, snacks, and water suited to your plans for the day. There will be a few times during the day when we'll be close to the cars to head out.

CARPOOL: Carpool will be available for anyone who might find it convenient, especially anyone using public transit. Arrive between 8:20 and 8:30AM at the Fashion Valley Transit Center Parking Lot (West side parking area of the Fashion Valley Mall near Fashion Valley Rd). Look for a black Toyota Tundra. Spaces may fill up, so please be prepared to drive. Carpool participants will be part of all three trail trips and may not return until 4PM. Parking is free for 24 hrs and has roving security at Fashion Valley Transit Center, however risks are the same as parking anywhere on the street. Message the group for alternatives.