Text and photography copyright 2011 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. The author does not take any responsibility for injuries sustained during hikes or walks on the routes described here. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.
Torrey Pines Reserve: Beach and Broken Hill Trails
- Location: From Orange County, take I-5 to Del Mar Heights Road and turn right. In a mile, turn left on S. Camino Del Mar. Drive a total of 1.4 miles (Camino Del Mar becomes Torrey Pines Road) to the reserve entrance. Bear right into the parking area (day use fee is $12 per car on Monday through Thursday; $15 on Fridays, weekends and holidays) and drive uphill for a mile and park in the lot on the right side of the road, across from the visitor’s center. From San Diego, take I-5 to Genessee Ave. Turn left, drive 0.9 miles and turn left on N. Torrey Pines Road. Drive 2.9 miles and take a hard left into the park.
- Agency: Torrey Pines State Reserve
- Distance: 3.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 700 feet
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Best season: Year-round
- Recommended gear: sunblock; sun hat
- USGS topo maps: Del Mar
- More information: here; here
- Rating: 8
If the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name “Torrey Pines” is the golf course, you might want to give this park a look. The Torrey Pines that give the reserve (and the golf course) its name, oddly, grow only here and on Santa Rosa Island. There’s a lot of interesting stuff to see here – not only the pines, but great ocean and beach views, geology, cacti, sage and more.
There are several short trails in the reserve. The Beach and Broken Hills trails can be combined on a nice, moderately challenging loop hike that takes in some of the park’s best scenery
From the parking area, follow the signs for the Beach Trail. Follow this trail down toward the water below. On the way, check out some interesting sandstone geology and plant life as well as the pines. Detours to Razor Point and Yucca Point can give you nice aerial views of the ocean.
The Beach Trail continues, steeply in some places, winding its way down to the water. A short spur takes you to the actual beach itself, where you can see the bluffs up close and extend your walk in the sand. The area is known as Flat Rock Point, named for a large flat rock just off the shore.
To continue the loop, ascend the spur and head right, onto the Broken Hill Trail. It swtichbacks uphill and soon comes to a fork. Both routes lead back to Torrey Pines Road, but the left route is slightly shorter. It heads through a wooded area before joining up with the paved road. Head left (the road is closed to traffic) and walk half a mile back to the car, taking in nice views of the Carmel Valley to the right and the ocean to the left.
While the Torrey Pines reserve tends to be popular and as such isn’t a great place for wilderness solitude, the scenic variety here is hard to beat. And unlike the nearby golf course, other than the parking fee, no membership dues are required.