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Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands + Santa Catalina, California

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Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines

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  • The pier at Bechers Bay.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • Santa Rosa Island is roughly 53,000 acres in size.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • Just past the active airstrip, the trail winds down into Water Canyon before heading back up.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • The flat coastal road soon leads you to your first up-close view with the Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana).- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • To make it a loop, climb up on the singletrack dirt trail at the junction. Soon you'll be rewarded with a view of coastal rocky cliffs over the Torrey pines.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • You can find Torrey pine cones everywhere. These cones are massive, weighing up to a pound.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • The needles of the Torrey pine occur in bundles of five.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • Hiking the loop trail.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • Toward the end of the loop, catch views of Santa Cruz Island.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • March is the perfect time to view Santa Rosa's wildflowers. Seen here is Indian paintbrush.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • Switchback down the coastal hillside through the Torrey pine grove.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • Western meadowlark caught mid-song.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • View of the coastal road on Santa Rosa Island.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • Channel Island's infamous bird resident - seagulls.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • Take a walk along the beach by the pier if you have extra time. - Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
  • Island Packers provides transportation to and from the Channel Islands.- Santa Rosa Island's Torrey Pines
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Rare Torrey pine view. Wildlife. Coastal views.
Cons: 
Ferry or plane to get there.
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Region:
Channel Islands + Santa Catalina, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Highest point: 
476.00 ft (145.08 m)
Year round: 
No
Open from: 
March 01 to November 30
Parking Pass: 
None
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
7.50 mi (12.07 km)
Total elevation gain: 
470.00 ft (143.26 m)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
6.00 ft (1.83 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

With roughly 3,000 trees remaining, the Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana) is North America’s rarest pine. Just two groves of Torrey pines exist, one in a State Natural Reserve in San Diego and the other on Santa Rosa Island in Channel Islands National Park. The hike to Santa Rosa’s Torrey pines is a unique opportunity to see these rare pines up close.

The trail begins from the pier at Bechers Bay and winds past the historic ranch and the active airstrip. At the junction with the trail to Water Canyon Campground, take a left down into Water Canyon. Cross the creek and climb up to resume walking along the coastal road. At 2.5 miles in, swing a right on the singletrack dirt trail to begin the loop in the Torrey pines grove. The trail switchbacks up the coastal hillside to the top of the grove with excellent views of the area. At the top, the trail briefly parallels the road – be sure to remain on the dirt trail in order to walk down into the grove’s eastern side.

The grove itself feels massive, and it will completely surround you for most of the loop trail. Numerous huge pine cones from the trees cover the ground in the hillside’s gulleys. As you walk through the grove, spectacular coastal views are framed by the pines.

The Torrey pines only occur on coastal cliff sites that receive cooler air and moisture. Due to the rarity of the Torrey pine, trees within groves are genetically similar. The introduction of a new disease or insect infestation raises the possibility of this pine’s extinction.

Wildlife can also be seen from the trail. Four of the Channel Islands, including Santa Rosa, are home to the island fox. Hikers in the spring time have the bonus of seeing island fox pups! A variety of seabirds, shorebirds, raptors, and songbirds can also be seen.

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(1 within a 30 mile radius)

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