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Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Within this 2,000-acre oasis of wildlands inside San Diego City limits are 200-foot-high carved sandstone bluffs; woodlands containing the nation's rarest pine tree, the Torrey pine (pinus torreyana), often twisted into fantastic shapes by the omnipresent wind; a beach, freshwater lagoon, and salt marsh; and coastal scrub and chaparral plants and animals. A pueblo-style structure built in 1922 as a restaurant now serves as the visitor center. Currently, only one half-mile loop trail in the reserve’s eight-mile trail network is accessible. Picnics are not allowed in the reserve.

Visitor center: Housed in the former Torrey Pines Lodge, the center has videos about the history and biological shaping of the reserve, animal specimens of the area (birds, coyotes, a mountain lion, rattlesnakes), and items such as pine cones and animal bones to touch and examine. Guided hikes are offered weekends and holidays at 10 am and 2 pm, and with advance notice can be tailored to meet accessibility needs.
State Parks Advisory: Many of California's state parks are reducing hours of operation and limiting access to facilities because of budget cuts. We recommend that you consult State Parks' website and contact the park directly before planning a visit.

Trail/Pathway Details

Discovery Trail

Trailhead: At visitor center and from west parking lot

Length: Under one mile total

Typical Width: 4 ft. & above

Typical Grade: Level

Terrain: Hard


Picking up this half-mile trail from the visitor center, you see Torrey pines amongst coastal sage scrub and chaparral plants, including California buckwheat, laurel sumac, Mojave yucca, deerweed, chamise, and sage, which was sacred to Kumeyaay people. To the east you can see Los Peñasquitos watershed and, in the distance, the University Town Center area. In about .2 miles, expansive views of the ocean open to the west; downtown La Jolla is to the south. At the trail’s farthest point, benches perched high above the water invite you to linger. The bustle and noise of sprawling San Diego seem far away. In late fall and winter, look for gray whales migrating south to breed in the lagoons of Baja California. In springtime you may see wildflowers, including prickly pear, golden yarrow, canchalagua, and goldfields.

Accessibility Details

The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.

Visitor Center: Accessible

Beach Wheelchair: No

Accessible Parking: Yes

Accessible Restroom: Yes

West parking lot
Bench along Discovery Trail
Bench along Discovery Trail (Kristen Meneke)

Features icon key

  • hiking

Additional Information

View Map  
Managing Agency: California State Parks
Address: 12600 North Torrey Pines Rd., San Diego
Nearest City: San Diego
Phone: (858) 755-2063
Hours: Reserve: 8 am-5 pm
Visitor center: Daylight saving time: 9 am-6 pm. Winter standard time: 10 am-4 pm.
Fees: Parking
Dogs: Not allowed
Service animals allowed only at beach and visitor center; please notify a ranger or staff at entrance station if you have a service animal
Public Transportation: San Diego Metropolitan Transit System 
Useful Links: Torrey Pines Docent Society 

Did You Know?

There are only two native stands of Torrey pines in North America, one at Torrey Pines State Reserve and the other on Santa Rosa Island near Santa Barbara.

Reviewed by Kristen Manecke, May 7, 2008
Access Norhtern California This web guide is a project of Access Northern California.  
California Coastal Conservancy Thanks to our partner the California Coastal Conservancy

DISCLAIMER: Although the information contained in this web-guide was believed to be correct at the time of publication, neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy shall be held responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions, nor for information that changes or becomes outdated. Neither Access Northern California nor California Coastal Conservancy assume any liability for any injury or damage arising out of, or in connection with, any use of this guide or the sites described in it.

Accessible Restrooms Icon looks like a women and men restroom signBeach Accessible
Wheelchairs Available
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