One of my favorite local hiking spots Off the 56 is Torrey Pines State Beach. Just fifteen minutes away from Carmel Valley, Del Sur, Rancho Penasquitos, and the surrounding neighborhoods, Torrey Pines State Beach is a very unique place to hike. If you’ve never been, it’s definitely one of the most iconic hiking spots in all of San Diego and allows you to take in amazing panoramic views of the ocean and coast while working up a sweat.
A word of warning: even though Torrey Pines State Beach is on the coast, it does get hot and there’s little shade on the trails. So if you’re planning to try this hike in the summer or early fall, make sure you start early or go on a cooler day. And no matter when you’re hiking, make sure to bring plenty of water!
You’ll also want to pay attention to the tides before you go. At high tide, the ocean comes up to the base of the cliffs and you won’t be able to walk on the beach. Of course, the trails themselves are unaffected, but if you want to get down on the sand and see the tide pools, check the tide charts before you go.
There are six different trails in the main reserve of Torrey Pines State Beach. Some trails are easier, while others are more challenging. You can bring your family and enjoy an easier nature walk or run the reserve’s steeper routes for a tough workout. I’ve brought my son, who is only five years old, and we did one of the shorter loops.
The popular Beach Trail is the longest at ¾ of a mile and offers access to the beach via some steep stairs. Be aware that many of the trails loop around and connect to each other, which makes it easy to go down the wrong path. Bring a trail map if you haven’t been before! There are also four trails in the Reserve Extension, which is the marshland across from the main entrance to the beach.
Torrey Pines State Beach is named for the Torrey Pine, which grows abundantly in the reserve. The Torrey Pine is the rarest native pine in the US! It only grows in a few places in the world: Torrey Pines Reserve where we’re hiking, along the coast in North County San Diego, and on Santa Rosa Island. And it’s worth noting that the Torrey Pine that grows on Santa Rosa Island is slightly different than the variety we have in San Diego! So this scrubby pine tree is a very rare sight indeed.
In addition to the Torrey Pine, you can find other native San Diego plants and animals along your hike. Ground squirrels, rabbits, rattlesnakes, eight species of lizards, and many varieties of birds make their home inside the reserve’s 2,000 acres. There may even be an occasional mule deer!
In addition to hiking and biking, you are allowed to fish, swim, surf, snorkel, and more in the ocean. Consult the park’s page on the California Department of Parks and Recreation website for a full list of approved recreational activities.
There’s really something for everyone at Torrey Pines State Beach! Except for dogs. Sorry dogs. No pets are allowed in the park or on the trails.
Have you done this hike before? What trail is your favorite? Leave me a comment below!
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