To truly witness the scenery of San Diego you need to lace up your shoes, and hit the trails. Torrey Pines, a natural reserve located on the Southern California Coasts, is one of the most picturesque places to go. Offering dessert landscapes, ocean views, and rugged cliffs, it’s a recreation dream.
The 1,750-acre reserve is named after the Torrey Pine tree. Juxtaposed against sandstone canyons and windswept cliffs, Torrey pines dot the coastal wilderness and hiking trails. The collection of trails at the park wind through the terrain, boasting postcard-worthy views at every turn. There are eight miles of Torrey Pines hiking trails total on the five hikes available. Get details for each below.
Guy Fleming Trail
Length: .7 mile loop
As far as Torrey Pines Hiking Trails go, this one is by far the easiest in the park. Relatively flat and easy-going, it provides up-close views of Torrey Pines, as well as stunning ocean views. There are two overlooks, one facing north, the other south, plus sandstone formations, spring wildflowers and sights of Gray Whales in winter to look forward to on the Guy Fleming Trail.
Razor Point Trail
Length: 1.4 miles round trip
Rating: Easy to Moderate
You won’t see as many Torrey Pines on this route. You will, however, be rewarded with dreamy beach views as endless as the sea. Unmatched views of a gorge, badlands, and ravines dotted with colorful sand and rich, green grass add to the natural display. The cliffs cut into the coast are a dramatic backdrop to the sea, demanding your attention. The trail also winds past the Red Butte Formation, ideal for a king-of-the-world photo op. You can also connect to other Torrey Pines hiking trails from Razor Point, such as the Beach Trail.
Length: 1.5 miles roundtrip
The Beach Trail isn’t the most scenic trail at Torrey Pines State Reserve, but it does have beach access. It’s only rated moderate, in my opinion as it is steep. Other than that, the trail is relatively easy. Coastal chaparral dots the trail, gradually descending through badlands and along the Big Basin. You can also see visit Yucca Point. Towards the end, the trail winds into a path carved by the ocean before the sand is at your feet and a large expanse of beach at your disposal. Climb out on Flat Rock to feel the sprays of the ocean. Don't forget to snap a photo or two!
Broken Hill Trail
Length: 2.5 miles roundtrip
Rating: Easy to Moderate
Broken Hill Trail can be accessed via North or South Fork, with both leading to the scenic overlook of Broken Hills. The park's longest trail has plenty of chaparral, few trees and inescapable views of the Pacific Ocean. After reaching Broken Hill Overlook, turn around, head back to the fork and start the hike towards the beach. Access is provided via connecting section to the Beach Trail.
Parry Grove Trail
Length: 1 mile loop
Parry Grove is the most secluded hike at Torrey Pines. The Whitaker Native Plant Garden is at the entrance, and hikers can see many of the park’s namesake trees on their short jaunt. In fact, one of the park’s oldest trees can be spotted about halfway down the trail’s staircase. The downside of Parry Grove is the bark beetle infestation which has destructed a lot of this once full grove. Although short, the trail is moderate due to its steep stairs on entry and exit.
From San Diego, take Interstate 5 to the Carmel Valley Road exit. Head west to Torrey Pines Road South. The Torrey Pines Natural Reserve has a $10 entrance fee, and here are two parking options available. Park at the south end of the beach, then hike up the steep hill to access Torrey Pines hiking trails. Or, save your stamina for the actual hikes and park in additional kits available throughout the park and at trailheads.
- Torrey Pines is a day park only. Night activities are prohibited.
- There are no places, or vending machines, to buy drink or food. Arrive prepared as the nearest gas station is 15 minutes away.
- The visitor center is open daily from 9am-6pm in the summer and 10am-4pm in the winter. Stop in for maps or to ask a park ranger for hiking advice.
- Guided tours are available. Please inquire with the Visitor Center for exact hours, but they are typically held at 10am and 2pm and last one hour.
- No pets are allowed.
If you’re visiting San Diego, add Torrey Pines to your list of places to go. The impressive coastal sights will leave salt on your lips, wind in your hair and postcard-worthy memories in your memory bank.