Torrey Pines Extension
- Location: Del Mar, north of the main section of the Torrey Pines State Reserve. From I-5, take the Carmel Valley Road exit (signed as exit 33 also for Highway 56 if you’re coming from the north; signed as exit 33B if you’re coming from the south). Head west on Carmel Valley Road for 1.2 miles. Turn right on Del Mar Scenic Parkway and follow it 0.3 mile. The trail head begins at the end of the road. Expect to have difficulty finding parking on busy summer weekends.
- Agency: Torrey Pines State Reserve
- Distance: 1.6 miles
- Elevation gain: 250 feet
- Suggested time: 1 hour
- Difficulty Rating: G
- Best season: Year-round
- USGS topo maps: Del Mar
- More information: Trip descriptions here, here and here
- Rating: 6
This 197-acre section of the Torrey Pines State State Reserve is located north of the park’s main area, separated by Carmel Valley Road and a residential area. While it lacks the dramatic coastal views of the Beach, Broken Hill and Guy Flemming Trails, it receives less visitation and also has free parking. There are several miles of trails in the park, making multiple possible routes. The hike described here visits a few of the Extension’s highlights.
From the trail head at the end of Del Mar Scenic Parkway, head north into the canyon. Stay straight at the junction (the Margaret Flemming “A” trail branches off to the right, an option if you want to explore further.) Follow the “B” trail up canyon to an unsigned junction (0.2 mile from the start) with the D.A.R./Daughters of the American Revolution Trail. The D.A.R. trail curves uphill toward the west wall of the canyon, passing several pines on its way up to a T-junction at a ridge. Head left and follow it to its southern end at an overlook with some attractive coastal views.
After enjoying the panorama, retrace your steps, passing by the trail on which you climbed up from the canyon. Just beyond it is an unsigned junction where the D.A.R. West Ridge Trail branches off to the right. For now, stay straight and follow the trail a short distance to some sandstone caves.
Once again retracing your steps, you’ll now take a hard left on the D.A.R. West Ridge Trail, which skirts the upper edge of the canyon’s left wall before descending to a junction at the preserve’s north end (1.1 miles from the start). Turn right and follow the trail back downhill through the canyon to your starting point.
The Extension is notable as being a result of community efforts to preserve the land. It was dedicated in 1970, eleven years after the main portion of the park, to save 1,500 of the rare trees from the effects of nearby development.
Text and photography copyright 2016 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. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.