Torrey Pines State Beach
12600 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92037
Region: La Jolla
Torrey Pines State Beach runs for three miles between Carmel Valley Road and the Glider Port at Torrey Pines Scenic Drive. The beach here is well covered by sand, with few exposed rocks, readily passable at all but the highest tides. There is also access from above via two challenging hiking trails - one in the State Park and another beginning at the Glider Port.
Where to go
There are two paths to enjoy this wonderful area:
- Taking the low road will lead you to the popular beach right off the highway, with bathrooms, showers, lifeguards and a safe spot for kids to play by the lagoon. The north section where the highway runs adjacent to the beach is the choice for swimming and other traditional activities, while non-traditionalists who prefer to dress down for the beach (nudists) and surfers who enjoy the big winter swells will find Black's Beach at the southern section more to their liking.
- The high road leads to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park, a coastal wilderness of pine forests, sandstone canyons and a network of dirt hiking trails on the bluffs overlooking the sea. Virtually everything in Torrey Pines is protected, from the Penasquitos river valley on the east side of the highway, to the State Park lands on the west, to the Underwater Ecological Reserve offshore. The world famous Torrey Pines Golf Course helps to safeguard the southern end of the bluffs from development while the rugged cliffs do their part to discourage access (and crowds).
- Torrey Pines State Beach is administered by the state's park system and offers day use parking. Fees are paid at the South Beach kiosk where there is a small parking lot as well as the parking lots at the top of the mesa in the park. You may also find free parking along Hwy 101.
Bathrooms & Showers
- Bathroom and shower facilities are found at the north end of Torrey Pines State Beach, near the Penasquitos Lagoon. There are additional facilities at the Park entrance and headquarters at the top of the mesa, with additional lifeguard supervision along the beach in the summer.
- Lifeguard headquarters are located at the north end of Torrey Pines State Beach and are staffed year around.
- Surfing and swimming at Torrey Pines State Beach
- Hiking in Torrey Pines State Park
- Guided nature tours are offered in the park on Saturdays and Sundays. For info call: 858-755-2063.
Directions to Torrey Pines State Beach
- From the 5 FWY exit Carmel Valley Road west to Torrey Pines Road south (aka Pacific Coast Highway). There are four parking options. The first is the large-capacity lot on the left side of Carmel Valley just before reaching the coast.
- Option two is the roadside parking along the southbound shoulder of PCH.
- Options three and four are both within the State Park at the south end of the beach. An entrance fee ($10.00 per vehicle) is collected at the gate which is open from 8:00 am until sunset daily. The lower, beach level lot is directly beyond the gate, with additional parking around the park headquarters and trailheads at the top end of the road. There is a beach trail down to the beach below the cliffs.
- There is no permanent lifeguard supervision anywhere below the bluffs at Torrey Pines. Lifeguards and park rangers sporadically patrol the beaches, but it is a swim-at-your-own-risk zone and a zone that can be risky indeed, especially toward Black's Beach with its notoriously powerful surf and strong currents. The sea cliffs from Torrey Pines State Park southward to Black's Beach rise precipitously from the beach to heights of 300 feet and have been the site of countless accidents and rescues. The Beach Trail in the State Park, and The Glider Port Trail at the Torrey Pines Flight Park are the ONLY maintained routes (even these are difficult and dangerous); DO NOT attempt to follow any unmarked trails or pioneer new ones.
What to Love
- Dolphins and whales can occasionally be spotted from the trails running along the ocean at Torrey Pines State Park.
- For a great work-out, park at the beach lot at the bottom of the hill and walk up the mesa.
- There are free docent-led tours within the park on weekends at 10AM and 2PM that typically last 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
What to Know
- Alcohol is banned from all beaches within the state park.
- The bluffs above Torrey Pines beach can be unstable. Do not set up beach sites too close to the cliffs.
- Rattlesnakes have been spotted at the park - be sure to stay on the trails and never try and touch a snake or any other wildlife.