Your Torrey Pines hiking guide – including everything to know before you go, the best trails, and how to get the most out of the park.
After living in San Diego for five years and exploring many of the local hiking trails on sunny weekends, there was one place that I always came back to regularly – Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
Situated near North Torrey Pines Road and Carmel Valley Road, Torrey Pines is just a stone’s throw away from La Jolla and the UCSD campus where I went to school.
It’s also by far one of the prettiest places to hike in San Diego to soak up stunning coastal views, golden-hued cliffs, and a sandy beach below.
So in this detailed Torrey Pines hiking guide, I’m going to give you a full rundown of the best Torrey Pines trails and all the practical info you should know before you go to get the most out of the park.
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Quick Tips for Hiking Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
As paradisal as hiking at Torrey Pines State Reserve might be, it’s still good to know what to expect and to be prepared. Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Do pack everything you need ahead of time – Make sure to pack water and snacks before arriving at Torrey Pines Reserve. There are no food booths or vending machines on-site that sell snacks or beverages, and the nearest gas station is at least 15 minutes away from the park.
- Don’t bring your dog – Even though the beach and trails seem perfect for your pup to get some exercise, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve isn’t dog-friendly so you won’t want to bring your pooch. This is to keep the local wildlife like rabbits, lizards, and birds safe and sound in their natural habitat.
- Don’t expect a lot of shade – There are long stretches without any shade on many of the Torrey Pines trails so make sure you pack a hat, sunglasses, sunblock, and bring plenty of water. You can also check out this guide to hiking in hot weather.
- Cell service is actually pretty good at the park – Maybe it’s because it’s not a huge state park and it’s still situated close to cities like Del Mar and La Jolla, but you can get good cell service on most of the hiking trails around the park. This is convenient for getting directions to and from the day-use parking lots and the park’s trailheads, as well as if you want to be able to check-in with friends while you’re exploring the reserve.
Torrey Pines Map
You can easily find a map of Torrey Pines on the reserve’s website, including helpful information on where restrooms, water fountains, the visitor center, and viewpoints are.
For additional assistance, parking info, and even a bike rack, visit the Torrey Pines Visitor Center once you arrive.
Torrey Pines Hiking Trails
Torrey Pines trails are perfect if you’re looking to tackle some easy hikes in San Diego. Not many of these hikes will make you break a sweat, but they are full of amazing viewpoints, plenty of sunshine, and the rarest pine tree (aka the Torrey pine tree) in the United States.
Guy Fleming Trail
Most Popular Trail at Torrey Pines
Length: 0.8-mile loop | Time: 15-20 minutes
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 32.922923, -117.255444
By far the most popular Torrey Pines hike, you probably won’t work up a sweat on this mostly flat 0.8-mile loop but you will enjoy some breezy ocean views and a leisurely stroll.
The Guy Fleming Trail is an easy hike to start with for a good introduction to the park. At the trailhead, you can choose to go left or right – it doesn’t really matter since this is a lollipop loop trail.
There are signs along the trail that point out native plant species and it’s an ideal hike for small children or those with mobility issues with its relatively flat nature. Just note that it’s not great for strollers nor is it ADA accessible.
Bonus points if you’re an avid photographer since this trail boasts two scenic outlooks with benches and gorgeous views of the coastal bluffs and the scenic landscape below.
Take some time to look out at the ocean once you get to the viewpoints since you can sometimes spot whales or dolphins in the distance.
Overall, the Guy Fleming Trail is a good one to hike if you simply want to see some of the highlights of the park without needing to go on a longer trail. This is also a great trail for wildflowers if you’re visiting in the spring.
You can learn more about the history of the Guy Fleming Trail here.
Parry Grove Trail
Best Hike for Wildflowers
Length: 1-mile loop | Time: 20 – 30 minutes
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 32.921446, -117.255178
Located to the north of the visitor center, the half-mile loop Parry Grove Trail is more secluded than the Guy Fleming Trail but still features plenty of ocean views and sights.
Named after Charles C. Parry, who was the first person to document the Torrey pine tree (Pinus Torreyana), this trail is one of the best places to see Torrey pine trees at the park (the rarest pine tree in the United States!).
The Parry Grove Trail is a little less busy than the Guy Fleming Trail because of its steep section of 118 stone steps, so be prepared for a decent workout.
This loop trail takes you through chaparral, Torrey pines, as well as Scripps Overlook via the Whitaker Garden. The garden is another spot to learn more about the local desert flora and you might even spot a wild rabbit or lizard while you’re there.
There is a water fountain along the trail and benches to rest in the sunshine, including one at Scripps Overlook.
To reach the Parry Grove Trailhead, you can either park by the beach on the lower level of the park or park in the upper lot and walk down the road. The lower parking lot is definitely the more strenuous route but sometimes it’s the only option for day-use parking near the Parry Grove Trail on busier days.
You can learn more about the history of the Parry Grove Trail here.
Torrey Pines Beach Trail
Best Hike to Dip Your Toes in the Water
Length: 1 mile out and back | Time: 20-30 minutes
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 32.919936, -117.252857
Another one of the most popular hikes at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, the Beach Trail, as the name suggests, gives you access to Torrey Pines State Beach.
This idyllic, Torrey Pines beach hike will take you through the Upper Reserve on a sandy, rustic trail.
Take a short detour on the Yucca Point Trail to see one of the prettiest views at the park from the Yucca Point Overlook, where you’ll find panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.
The Beach Trail ends at the stairs that lead to Torrey Pines State Beach 300 feet below, where you can dip your toes in the water and go swimming.
Once you’re done at the beach, you can either go back the way you came or, if it’s low tide, do a longer hike along the beach to the lower parking area.
The easiest way to access the Beach Trail is from the upper parking area, but if you park at the lower parking lot or along the street, plan for this to be around a 3-mile hike.
This is an ideal trail if you want a short hike through the state park but also want to spend the afternoon on the beach.
Razor Point Trail
Best Hike for Geology Fans
Length: 0.7 miles out and back | Time: 20-30 minutes
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 32.919936, -117.252857
Although Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is known for its ocean views, the Razor Point Trail is a great alternative if you want to see more of the park’s rock formations up close.
This trail can be found off the Beach Trail (on the right and about 600 ft from the trailhead) and can either be an out and back trail or turned into a loop that meets back up with the Beach Trail.
Arguably the most scenic spot in Torrey Pines, the Yucca Point Overlook, can be accessed from the Razor Point Trail.
And about 2/3 of the way to the Yucca Point Overlook (sometimes called the Razor Point Overlook since it’s on the Razor Point Trail), you’ll get to wander through coastal sage scrub, gnarled trees, and a sculpted sandstone gorge.
One must-see spot on the Razor Point Trail is Red Butte. Red Butte is a massive sandstone formation where you can see the entire start park along the coastline.
Lastly, in the spring, you’ll find beautiful cream yucca blooms and tafoni formations along the trail. Tafoni are small indents in cliffs that are caused by erosion, creating a honeycomb-like pattern throughout the stone.
If you’re looking for a longer hike than the usual one-mile and under hiking trails you’ll mostly find at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, combining the Razor Point Trail, Beach Trail, and the Broken Hill Trail together allows you to do a 3-4 mile hike and take in a lot of different highlights along the way.
Broken Hill Trail
Best Trail to Get Away from the Crowds
Length: 2.5-mile loop | Time: 60 – 90 minutes
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 32.916297, -117.247751
One of the longer hikes in Torrey Pines State Reserve, the 2.5-mile Broken Hill Trail can be accessed via a half-mile walk from the upper day-use parking lot.
This trail was under construction for a while but opened back up to the public in 2019 after being leveled and graded, so it’s an even nicer hike now for those who are looking for a mostly flat trail.
You can either start the Broken Hill Trail from the North Fork or South Fork trailheads, it doesn’t matter which since you’ll be hiking both during the full 2.5-mile loop anyway. And from either direction, you’ll get expansive views of the reserve and the ocean.
Halfway through the trail, you’ll come across a junction of two paths. One leads to the Beach Trail where you have the option to head down to the beach and the other leads to the Broken Hill Overlook.
The Broken Hill Overlook is the only elevation gain on the Broken Hill Trail, but it’s well worth it for the cliffside views you get from the lookout point.
And, in addition to the High Point Trail (below), this is another stunning place to watch the sun go down at the park.
High Point Trail
Best Place to Watch the Sunset
Length: 300 ft | Time: 5 – 10 minutes
High Point Trail is not so much a hike as it is a Stairmaster workout. You have to climb up 300 feet before you reach the highest point in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve – the peak of High Point Trail.
You can top your glute workout off with a panoramic view at the High Point Overlook, earning yourself world-class scenery of Torrey Pines State Reserve, its lagoon, and scenic landscape further inland.
The views from here are stunning year-round and the sunsets are nothing short of breathtaking.
Torrey Pines Reserve Extension Hiking Trails
If you’re looking for even more Torrey Pines hiking options, check out the other side of the park from the North Beach entrance and the following hiking trails:
- Red Ridge Loop Trail (0.3 miles)
- Mar Scenic Trail (0.5 miles)
- Daughters of the American Revolution (0.5 miles)
- Margaret Fleming Nature Trail (0.8 miles)
What to Pack for a Torrey Pines Hike
Before you go on a Torrey Pines hike, make sure you’re prepared with these items.
- Hydration pack (plus water) – I pretty much never go hiking without my CamelBack these days. It’s convenient to have 3L of water so easily accessible as you hike, especially in the hot sun. And I find hydration packs to be the perfect size for bringing my camera and a few snacks on the trail too.
- Trail Snacks – Speaking of snacks, beef jerky is perfect for when you need some protein and salt to keep your electrolyte levels up. You can easily pick up a couple of packs of Jack’s Links at a nearby gas station or go grass-fed with Ayobo-yo Biltong. Trail mix is another great option. The vegan-friendly Mega Omega Trail Mix packs loads of Vitamin B, omega-3, and antioxidants, ensuring that you’ll be well-energized throughout your hike.
- First Aid Kit – No matter where you’re hiking, it’s always good to pack a first aid kit with plenty of bandages, alcohol wipes, pain relief medication, ointments, and more.
- Light Layers – When you’re on the coast, it’s a good idea to pack a light layer since it can get breezy. Plus, if you work up a sweat or you stay at the park until sunset, things can cool down quickly. I’d recommend bringing a light windbreaker or a moisture-wicking long sleeve shirt.
- Good Hiking Boots – Or quality walking shoes that have good traction since the trails can be dusty and easy to slide on at times.
Related: Best Gifts for Hikers
Frequently Asked Questions About Torrey Pines Hiking
Torrey Pines Parking: Where Do You Park to Hike Torrey Pines?
Since Torrey Pines is one of the most famous state reserves in Southern California, parking can get busy fast (especially on the weekends and holidays).
Find available day-use parking at the North Beach entrance (right near the intersection of North Torrey Pines Road and Carmel Valley Road) and the South Beach entrance (which includes the upper and lower parking lot inside the reserve).
Depending on what season and day you visit (it’s demand-based pricing), you will have to pay the following entrance/parking fees:
- South Beach Entrance Parking Lots (including parking at the visitor center )- $20-$25 per vehicle (this includes the parking lots that are inside the main reserve area and near the most popular trailheads)
- North Beach Entrance Parking Lot – $10-$25 per vehicle
Where Can I Park for Free at Torrey Pines?
If you don’t want to pay for a parking lot, there is also free parking along North Torrey Pines Road and South Camino Del Mar. Spaces are limited so be sure to get there early if you want to grab a spot.
How Long is the Torrey Pines Hike?
There are various hiking trails at Torrey Pines but most are around a mile or under. With that said, it’s easy to connect trails together if you want to do a 3-4-mile hike.
Can You Swim at Torrey Pines?
Yes! Torrey Pines State Beach is an excellent beach for swimming and surfing. It’s also a good family-friendly beach if you’re traveling with kids.
How Far is Torrey Pines from Downtown San Diego?
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is about a 20-minute drive from downtown.
Looking for more things to do in town? Check out my post on 101 Things to do in San Diego.
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