As I paused along one of the trails that overlooked craggy sandstone cliffs and the blue waters beyond, I imagined the first settlers of this land, the Kumeyaay, standing on ocean bluffs, scanning the horizon. What must have it been like to live here before the arrival of the Spanish explorers, or before the westward expansion of the American frontier, when “California and the west belonged to the Native Americans”? Long ago, it was the Kumeyaay people that called this land home. They resided on the San Diego coast down into Baja, CA all the way to Ensenada, Mexico. Their territory expanded east to the Imperial Sand Dunes and included areas north to what is now Oceanside. (



Torrey Pines State Reserve is located along the Southern California coast between La Jolla and Del Mar. Popular with locals and out of town visitors, the 1,500 acres of land is a protected wilderness with the native Torrey Pine, sandstone bluffs, coastal sage scrub and other local plants. Visitors can hike the various trails as they enjoy sweeping panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and beaches.

The rarest pine tree in the United States, the Torrey Pine only grows naturally in the Torrey Pine State Reserve, surrounding areas, and the Santa Rosa island near Santa Barbara, CA. Those growing towards the west edge are shaped by the salty winds blowing off the ocean and exposure to sun. The only pine tree in the reserve, the Torrey Pine can be found growing in a myriad of different shapes.

Torrey Pines 2_7 ONE waterm light

There are six trails located in the reserve. Guy Fleming trail is a 2/3 mile hike that has two overlooks along the ocean bluffs that offer views of the Pacific. The overlooks are also a great place to whale watch between October through February, the months whales migrate from Alaska to Baja, CA. While Guy Fleming is a more or less level trail, the dirt path can still be uneven. The thin cord (or rope) clearly marking the trail is not a railing that can be used to steady oneself if need be. This is true for all the trails throughout the reserve. Anyone who is not steady with their balance probably should exercise some caution. With that said, people of all ages can be seen hiking and jogging the trails. Some trails are more strenuous than others with Guy Fleming being the easiest. The other trails are: Parry Grove Trail (1/2 mile), High Point Trail (100 yards), Razor Point Trail (1/2 mile), Beach Trail (3/4 mile), and Broken Hill Trail (between 1 1/4 and 1 1/3 mile). The Beach Trail “descends 300 feet” to the beach. Play and get good exercise by walking in the sand or taking a dip in the ocean. There is easy access from the beach to the south parking lot.

Facing DM from TP reserve TWO wide watermark(1)

A storm early February 2019 brought several days of wind and rain followed by a nippy, sunny winter morning.




Torrey Pines State Reserve is located at 12600 N Torrey Pines Rd. La Jolla, CA.

Entry into the reserve is off of N Torrey Pines Rd (County Hwy S21).
Continue a short distance to the kiosk to purchase your day pass. Cost for parking varies depending on the day and season. My last visit in February 2019, week day: day pass cost $15.

There is free parking on the shoulder of the road running parallel to the beach. These spaces fill up quickly as the beach is popular with locals. Weekends tend to be crowded. The best time to visit and to ensure parking (even in lots) is early morning during the weekday.

Gain access to the reserve by walking up the hill from the south parking lot (past the kiosk). There is also entry from the beach via stairs (these stairs are uneven and somewhat steep).

At the top of the hill, near The Lodge (information center), there are pamphlets and displays that offer information about the Torrey Pine, wildflowers and plants in the reserve, California Gray Whales, and the trails.

Visit The Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve website for more Information.

Posted by Erica Lee Lenore Ogdon

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