If the stress of everyday life is weighing you down, take a trip to Torrey Pines State Reserve just north of San Diego. Torrey Pines State Reserve is home to one of the biggest “secrets” in San Diego. The secret is not readily apparent, but it is important. The reserve is home to the rarest pine tree in all of North America, and one of the rarest trees on the planet, the pinus torreyana – or, as Californians call it, the Torrey Pine. When you visit, you’re getting to see a very rare, endangered species.
Sometimes being adventurous isn’t that easy…
Descending the steep cliff side stairs to a slice of sand near Point Dume, can feel like arriving on a deserted island. There aren’t any cars as far as the eye can see, just a small tuck of shoreline accessible by foot — and only by those who are willing to follow a winding dirt path.
Think of the Sky Island Scenic Parkway, as a kind of time machine. No, really. Let yourself go a minute and imagine a landscape that compresses an extraordinary range of topography into one 30-mile stretch of road. The road, known as the Mount Lemmon Parkway, does just that. It takes visitors through five life zones, from Sonoran Desert lowlands all the way up to a mixed-conifer forest, the geographic equivalent of traveling from Mexico to Canada.
Commanding the skyline above Finger Rock Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains is an eponymous stone pinnacle, that resembles a clenched fist with its index finger pointing toward the heavens. This is your first clue to the nature of the trail, that makes an aggressive, unrelenting ascent of its rugged domain.
It’s known as the “Dripping Cave,” for the way the sedimentary rock seems to drip from the ceiling, and also as the “Robber’s Cave,” as it once lent its shelter to a band of outlaws, who used the cave as a “home base” from which to rob the stagecoach line passing between Los Angeles and San Diego, during the 1800’s. The historic landmark is the park’s largest rock-shelter.
Sandy Creek Park surrounds 260-acre Lake Chapman, which was constructed to preserve the Sandy Creek watershed and act as an emergency water reservoir for Athens, and serve as a recreation site. Healthy populations of catfish, bass, and crappie draw anglers to the lake, while a sandy beach makes this park a popular place to swim and catch some rays. The park features a variety of activities and facilities. Picnic sites, wooded trails, swimming, playgrounds, fishing, dog runs, disc golf course, sports area, and rental pavilion facilities are highlights of the large park.
If you visit north Georgia, you can’t miss Tallulah Gorge, a stunning and popular geologic landmark, and the namesake of this gorgeous state park. Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains with an average of 300,000 visitors a year, less than 10% of the US population has had the pleasure of viewing these breathtaking views. Spanning two miles in length, the Tallulah Gorge carves 1,000 feet deep into sheer rock walls thanks to the turbulent flow of the Tallulah River. This same river is responsible for the majestic Tallulah Falls, made up of six cascading waterfalls dropping 500 feet over one mile, which cradle the Georgia-South Carolina state line.
This is a place with a rich and colorful history. I’m talking about one of those truly Southern Places, shaped by Native American, African and European influences. The ruins sit in a complex ecosystem alongside a major river, that once fed a good-sized little town, a successful textile industry, agriculture, the exchanges of commerce and a decidedly unique public citizenry.
Amicalola Falls State Park is nestled in North Georgia’s mossy, waterfall-filled Chattahoochee National Forest, set in the rolling, vibrant-green southern Appalachian Mountains. It’s one of the most popular, and most visited, of Georgia’s State Parks – and for good reason. The stunning centerpiece of a beautiful state park in the North Georgia Mountains is the tallest cascading waterfall in the Southeast.
Soaring and stunning, Blood Mountain is famous for its breathtaking, long-range views. The Blood Mountain summit peaks the highest elevation on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and the state’s sixth highest mountain. Rated one of the toughest trails in Northern Georgia, this is the perfect trail for thru-hike conditioning, although hiking this trail is not for the faint of heart.