Scripps Coastal Reserve – Biodiversity Trail

The Scripps Coastal Reserve is part of UC San Diego’s Natural Reserve System. The Scripps Reserve consists of almost 1000 acres, including an underwater marine portion, coastline area, and an upland cliff area known as “The Knoll.” The Knoll is home to the Biodiversity Trail – a short but very scenic interpretive loop tucked in amid the palace-like residences of La Jolla.

On a horrifically hot summer day, a short easy stroll on the coast sounded like a great choice, so we headed up to the Reserve. We were able to spot the entrance gate as we drove by, then had to continue a little ways up the street to park and walk back. The entrance is pretty subtle: a wrought iron gate with small sign sandwiched between two large houses.Scripps_Coastal_Reserve_DSC_8237

Once through the gate, it was just a short stroll to the beginning of loop. There was a clipboard with a sign-in sheet at the informational kiosk to help the researchers track visitors, so we dutifully signed in. We decided we’d do the loop counter-clockwise and headed down the right fork.Scripps_Coastal_Reserve_DSC_8238

There were periodic signs with information about the Reserve and the plants and animals that inhabit the area, which is a great way to learn about the local habitat. Being somewhat late in the summer, there weren’t any flowers to enjoy, and the landscape was dominated by chaparral broom and dry sage.Scripps_Coastal_Reserve_DSC_8239

There was plenty of wildlife to enjoy, however. We spotted a rabbit enjoying a small patch of shade.Scripps_Coastal_Reserve_DSC_9398-Edit

And there were numerous birds flying around and hopping through the bushes.Scripps_Coastal_Reserve_DSC_8250

To the north was Black’s Canyon. Across the canyon we could see some enormous homes perched atop the sculpted cliffs. A paved path providing access to Black’s Beach ran down through the canyon.Scripps_Coastal_Reserve_DSC_8268-Edit

Around .2 mile there was a small overlook along the edge of the cliffs. Scripps_Coastal_Reserve_DSC_8271

There were numerous signs warning us to stay back from the edge of the unstable cliffs, but even from a safe and conservative location we were able to get some beautiful views of the coastline and see Scripps Pier below.Scripps_Coastal_Reserve_DSC_8275-Edit

The trail continued south along the cliff edge for a little way.Scripps_Coastal_Reserve_DSC_8279

Then it soon turned inland again. We spotted a large Bladderpod plant with some Harlequin Bug nymphs crawling on it.Scripps_Coastal_Reserve_DSC_8286

There were also large patches of Coastal Prickly Pear Cactus, because in San Diego, even the beach has cacti!Scripps_Coastal_Reserve_DSC_8297

More birds entertained us with their songs.Scripps_Coastal_Reserve_DSC_8301

Before long, we found ourselves approaching the start of the loop again. We thought we were done and started heading towards the gate when we spotted this beautiful little guy in the brush.Scripps_Coastal_Reserve_DSC_8335

For such a short trail, we certainly got our fair share of wildlife, and definitely felt it was worth the trip.

View the full photo gallery

From I-5, take the La Jolla Village Drive exit and head west on La Jolla Village Drive. Continue as La Jolla Village Drive turns into N Torrey Pines Road. Turn left onto La Jolla Shors Drive, then right onto La Jolla Farms Road. The entrance to the Reserve will be on the left after approximately .1 mile. Find parking on the street where you can. map

Total Distance: .5 mile
Difficulty: Easy
Total Ascent: Negligible
Dog Friendly?: Dogs not allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes not allowed
Facilities: None
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
UC San Diego Natural Reserve System – Scripps Coastal ReserveView route or download GPX from CalTopo

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