Oct. 15 2013 07:31 PM

Torrey Pines and Balboa Park battle for best hiking for the out-of-shape

torrey pines
The Pacific Ocean puts Torrey Pines over the top.
Photo by Alex Zaragoza

My love of television and sitting down is well known among my loved ones. In an effort to get between me and my penchant for laziness, my boyfriend bought me a pair of hiking shoes, so I figured I should actually use them. But before I go full Into the Wild, I wanted to start with easy hikes to avoid passing out.

The Torrey Pines State Reserve (12600 N. Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla, ) got the privilege of breaking in my new hiking boots. My hiking partner and I started at the south parking lot (parking is $12), trekking up the long road to the first trail on the reserve. It's a steep hill but very doable, even on a hot day. Still, if you're extra-out-of-shape, you can drive up and park closer to the trail openings.

The reserve has eight trails. The first trail we came to was the Guy Fleming Trail, which is about half a mile long and loops, so you can jog or walk it multiple times. The trail is super-easy, with hardly any climbing. Along the walk, you see pretty flowers and trees and cool rock formations. You'll eventually get to two lookout points that offer incredible views of the coastline. It's highly 'grammable stuff.

After finishing that trail, we headed for the High Point Trail. It's only 100 yards. If you struggle with this one, you need to reassess your life. Though it's short, the High Point Trail has a beautiful panoramic view of the ocean to the west and the freeway and Clairemont to the right. OK, so one of those is better than the other.

After, we stopped at the visitor center, which was once the home of naturalist and park preserver Fleming. The view from the backyard, which is easily accessible, was gorgeous. I took about 50 Instagram shots. We ended our hiking trip at that point to avoid traffic, but I plan to go back and walk the other trails.

Challenging Torrey Pines are the various trails offered at Balboa Park and Morley Field. What I like about these trails is that they allow you to push yourself, if you're up for it. You decide how far you want to go and what you want to see. You can stick to the pretty scenery in the main Balboa Park area or hike the canyons.

I hiked one of the Morley Field trails accessible at the back of the Grape Street Dog Park. It takes you all the way down Pershing Drive through a canyon. At the top, you can see parts of the Downtown skyline, but that's the most exciting it gets view-wise. However, I felt pretty tough trekking down to the intersection of Pershing, 26th Street and Florida Street and then making my way all the way back up.

The winner: While the countless possibilities make the Morley Field / Balboa Park hikes very appealing, the gorgeous views at Torrey Pines deliver the knock-out punch.

Write to alexz@sdcitybeat.com. You can also bug her on Twitter.


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