Hiking Torrey Pines (San Diego)

If you’ve been to San Diego, you know Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one of the best parks around. It’s over 1500 acres of unspoiled beaches, animals, plants, and even a lagoon. It does get fairly busy, so I recommend coming early.

Hiking Torrey Pines

Recently, I learned that reserve is not the same as a park. A natural reserve status is an area of importance that usually contains threatened plants, animals, habitats, or unique geological formations. This means that many reserves carry restrictions to help save the animal and plant life.

Here are a few rules:

  • No food or drink, except water, is allowed in the Reserve above the beach.
  • No smoking
  • No drones
  • Dogs are not permitted anywhere.
  • “Pack it in-pack it out,” starting from the beach parking lot. There are no trashcans at the reserve.

Hiking Torrey Pines

History of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve:

Early Spanish explorers referred to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve as Punto de Los Arboles, which means “Point of Trees.” Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve was used as a landmark when they saw they were too close to shore in the fog.

In 1850, the Torrey Pines was “officially discovered” by  Dr. Charles Christopher Parry. 1850 was also the year California became a state. You can learn more about Torrey Pines here.

Hiking Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve:

There are plenty of trails depending on whatever you want to do. I would wear good shoes because most do feature stairs. Some trails even have over 100 stairs. I hiked about 4 miles and climbed about 500 feet in elevation. I was at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve on a beautiful day, and most of the trails were moderately busy. It does cost $20 per vehicle to park. Due to COVID, many trails are one way, but luckily most are open.

Hiking Torrey Pines
Cliffs at Torrey Pines

Here are a few trails at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve: 

  • Guy Fleming Trail. About 2/3rds of a mile, it offers two scenic overlooks. There are plenty of wildflowers, including ferns, cacti, and habitat diversity in the reserve.
  • Parry Grove Trail. About half a mile with 100 steps, this is one of the steepest trails at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
  • High Point Trail. As suggested, the highest point of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. You can see panoramic views of the Reserve, Lagoon, and even inland.
  • Razor Point Trail. About 2/3rds of a mile, you see a lot of coastal trees and flowers.
  • Beach Trail. A 3/4-mile trail that heads to the beach. There are a lot of steep stairs.
  • Broken Hill Trail. The longest trail, about 1.3 miles, but you see plenty of eroding area.

My experience was fun. I walked through several of the trails and then headed back down the beach for the final mile walk. I went on one of the clearest days of the year (not on purpose, it just has happened that way) so the park was even busier. We waited in line to park for about 10 minutes! Even then, we were able to socially distance and almost every single person was wearing a mask.

Hiking Torrey Pines
Lots of preserved wildlife

If you are in San Diego and want a fun hike, I highly suggest Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. It’s easy enough most people can hike, but challenging to climb several stairs or hills.

You can see more hikes here.

Questions for you:

Have you been to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve?

Have you been to San Diego?