Tips for a Trip to Torrey Pines National Reserve

14 Feb 2013 · by The Sean Zanganeh Team

Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve is a wilderness island in the middle of an urban sea. This is considered as a fragile environment, home of the rarest pine tree called “Pinus torreyana”. Back then, a number of such trees covered a large area. But today, it only grows on Santa Rosa Island, located off the coast, near Santa Barbara.

The Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve is for day use only. Overnight camping, food, drinks, and pets are not allowed within the facility. Hikers are encouraged to bring water on the trails as is permitted. People can enjoy picnics here only on the beach area.

What to Expect

The reserve is consist of a plateau with cliffs, and comes with a view of the Torrey Pines State Beach, and a lagoon known to play an important part with migrating seabirds. Several wildlife and flora can be found within the area, these include bobcats, foxes, skunks, raccoons, even coyotes and more. There are more or less 8 miles of trails, and there is a small museum that sits on top, as well as the Torrey Pines Lodge.

Sean’s Tips

1. Park for free right along the water and add a few steps to your journey.

2. Take your camera and snap a couple pictures.

3. Add a different loop or trail and mix them up each visit.

4. First go up the paved hill then walk along the beach on the way back to your vehicle.

5. If you’re really feeling adventurous, at the end of the hiking trail where it meets the beach, keep going South around the big rock, and enjoy another extra few miles of rarely traveled coastline.

Fees to Pay

There is a facility use fee for any car or vehicle entering the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Fees that are paid at the South Beach kiosk are valid for the South Beach parking area and the parking lots located at the Reserve, top of the mesa. A separate fee will be asked for the North Beach parking area.
Here is a summary of the fees:
South Beach or Reserve lots: $10 (Mon to Thurs), $12 (Fri to Sun and during holidays)
Bus with 10 to 24 people: $50
Bus with 25 or more: $100
For special events or group visits, reservations should be made.
Annual Pass: $195; can be purchased at the Torrey Pines Visitor Center from 11 am to 1 pm

If you’re looking for free parking, park along the coast on Torrey Pines Rd.

Hours of Operation

The Reserve is open daily, and gates open at 7:15 am. Closing time is approximately at sunset. The sunset can occur from 5pm during winter, and 8pm in the summer. On the other hand, the Visitor Center is open from 9am to 6pm during summer, while 10am to 4pm on the rest of the seasons.

Where to Find Torrey Pines

The preserve is located between La Jolla and Del Mar in California, just north of San Diego. To get to the preserve, take Hwy 5, and then exit on Carmel Valley Road. Drive west for about 1.5 miles until you will reach the Coast Highway 101. Make a left and follow the beach for about a mile or so. The park entrance is on the right side, before the highway begins to climb the grade. The exact address is 12600 North Torrey Pines Road, San Diego, California 92037.

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