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Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Enjoy ocean views at every turn

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, located on the cliffs above Torrey Pines State Beach, is a 1,750 acre reserve dedicated to preserving its namesake, the Torrey Pine tree and other indigenous wildlife in its native environment. A coastal wilderness of pine forests and sandstone canyons, the park has a series of well-kept trails that wind along the cliffs offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. With both easy, family-friendly paths and more advanced trails, the park provides a great hiking experience for all levels.

Virtually everything in Torrey Pines is protected, from the Penasquitos River Valley on the east side of the highway, to the Natural Reserve 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 Natural Reserve is home to approximately 3,000 of our nation's rarest pine tree—Pinus torreyana, which only grows here and on Santa Rosa Island off the coast near Santa Barbara. The park preserves not only the trees, but also one of the last great salt marshes and waterfowl refuges in Southern California.  

Trails

Eight miles of trails offer a variety of distances and different experiences. Here are a few popular trails:

  • Guy Fleming Trail: This 0.7 mile loop is the easiest trail in the park and affords stunning ocean views. Two overlooks offer differing experiences: On the North Overlook you can inspect the Torrey pines up close and view the Peñasquitos Marsh, while the South Overlook features views of La Jolla to the south, San Clemente to the north and perhaps as far out to sea as the Santa Catalina Islands. Spring rains bring abundant wildflowers, and in winter, views of gray whales migrating up and down the coastline.  
  • Razor Point Trail: Although there are fewer Torrey pines along this 1.4 mile round-trip trail, you’ll see dramatic views of ravines and badlands and the path ends at a spectacular ocean lookout. The trail meets up with other trails along the way so an alternate path back is possible.
  • Beach Trail:  As the name implies, this 3/4 mile trail takes you down to Torrey Pines State Beach. While steep and less scenic than the others, it can be a great workout or adventure as you can hike and then picnic and sunbathe on a wide, flat beach.

Visitor Center

  • Commissioned in 1922 by Ellen Browning Scripps, this pueblo-style structure was originally a restaurant called Torrey Pines Lodge.
  • Guided tours for the general public leave from the Visitor Center weekends and holidays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and last approximately 1 hour. Please note: the guided tours are not available for groups to join; they are limited to about 10 persons. 
  • The Visitor Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during summer daylight saving time and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during winter standard time.

What to Know

  • Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a day-use park only. 
  • Some of the trails at the park are quite strenuous - ask the park ranger for advice on which trails are right for your group.
  • There is no place to buy food or drinks. Visitors are advised to bring and carry drinking water on the trails - especially in the summertime.
  • No alcohol or pets (even in a vehicle) are allowed in the park and food may only be consumed on the beach - not on any trails.
  • 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.

Directions & Parking

  • From Interstate 5, exit Carmel Valley Road west to Torrey Pines Road south (aka Highway 101 or Pacific Coast Highway). There are two parking options within the State Park at the south end of the beach. An entrance fee ($12-15.00 per vehicle, depending on the day) is collected at the gate which is open from 8:00 a.m. 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. You may also find free parking along Hwy 101. The lower parking lot and free parking along Hwy 101 provide a great workout from the walk up the steep hill to the start of the hiking trails.

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