If you love nature, hiking, and beautiful ocean vistas that go on forever, then a visit to Torrey Pines State Reserve should definitely be on your list of things to do when visiting San Diego. The 2,000-acre reserve offers a diversity of natural things to see as the land has remained relatively unchanged since it was first established as a public park in 1899.
Torrey Pines State Reserve is home to one of the rarest native pine trees in the United States – Pinus torreyana. Torrey Pines grow only in the reserve and on Santa Rosa Island near Santa Barbara. As you explore and hike along the reserve’s 8-miles of trails, you’ll not only see the Torrey Pine, but about 300 other endangered and protected species of native plants. Visit during the spring months and the reserve will be awash in color as wildflowers bloom.
If time is short, take part in one of the free, guided nature walks on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. The tours usually last about 1 to 1 ½ hours and are a great way to get a glimpse of what the reserve is all about. Be sure to check out the museum and exhibits at the visitor’s center, which was built in 1922, to learn more about the local wildlife and geology. The reserve also has two native plant gardens, one at the visitor’s center and the other at the Parry Grove trailhead.
Located in the northern part of the Torrey Pines State Reserve, is the 630-acre Los Penasquitos Marsh Natural Preserve and Lagoon. The marsh that was once a possible site for a nuclear power plant is now an extremely important wildlife habitat. It serves as a nursery for fish and a feeding and nesting ground for resident and migratory birds. Public access is restricted in some areas so visit the Torrey Pines visitor’s center to see which trails are open.
Please note: no food or drinks (other than water) are permitted in the reserve and there is no place within the reserve to buy refreshments. Picnics are permitted on the beach only.
Torrey Pines State Reserve is located just north of La Jolla and approximately 20 miles north of downtown San Diego.
The Visitor Center is open daily from 9am to 6pm during summer daylight saving time and 10am to 4pm during winter months. The gates close at sunset.