Torrey Pines State Park / Reserve La Jolla San Diego
Views of the Torrey Pines State Park in La Jolla
Welcome to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
( View Photo Gallery, Videos and Map Below)
Torrey Pines State Reserve is afabulous place to get out and hike and enjoy some of the best scenic views in San Diego and Southern California. The trails start on the beach and run through some of the cliffs and wooded areas which encompass some of San Diego's early history.
If you are looking for a great place to go out walking or hiking you will love this nature preserve right off the Highway 5 and Carmel Valley Road in San Diego.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is located within San Diego city limits and yet remains one of the wildest stretches of land on our Southern California coast! Because of the efforts and foresight of the people in this area, 2000 acres of land are as they were before San Diego was developed -with the chaparral plant community, the rare and elegant Torrey pine trees, miles of unspoiled beaches, and a lagoon that is vital to migrating seabirds. One can imagine what California must have looked like to the early settlers, or to the Spanish explorers, or even to the first California residents here, the Kumeyaay people.
There are 8 miles of trails, a visitor center, and guided nature walks on weekends and holidays.
Torrey Pines is visited by travelers from all over the world and by local residents who come daily to rest at the stunning overlooks, walk a peaceful trail, or exercise in a clean, beautiful environment. Spend some time at this web site, then come spend some time at beautiful Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Special care has been taken to preserve it and keep it for now and forever.
Generally open. The Beach Trail is NOT closed, but the little trail that goes up over the rocks opposite Flat Rock is closed off due to a rockslide. But you can walk south past Flat Rock at low tide (or you could walk through the water with your shoes off) to get to the beach south of Flat Rock.
Due to trail construction, the Rim Canyon Trail and the "Tunnel Trail" (the trail below RedButte on the east side) are currently closed. Visitors will still be able to go up to Red Butte and down to Razor Point. Also, Red Butte & Razor Point trails are accessible from the Beach Trail. Walking from the west, upper parking lot, take the left fork and continue on the Beach Trail. Details available at the Visitor Center.
The Guy Fleming Trail is closed for repairs except for the north side of the trail from the trailhead to the North Overlook. You can still hike a portion of the Guy Fleming. Turn right at the Trail entry and continue to the North Overlook. Then turn around and retrace your steps.
A view of the Highway 101 Highway from Torrey Pines State Reserve
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a wilderness island in an urban sea. This fragile environment is the home of our nation's rarest pine tree - Pinus torreyana. Once this tree covered a larger area. It now grows only here and on Santa Rosa Island off the coast near Santa Barbara.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a day-use park only. There is no overnight camping facility. Picnics are permitted on the beach only. No food or drinks (other than water) are permitted in the Reserve (i.e., the mesa above the beach and the Extension).
There is no place in the park to buy food or drinks. Hikers are advised to bring and carry drinking water on the trails - especially in the summertime.
Location Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is located between La Jolla and Del Mar, California, north of San Diego. From Hwy 5, exit on Carmel Valley Road and drive west for about 1.5 miles till you reach the Coast Highway 101. Turn left and proceed along the beach for about a mile. The park entrance is on your right just before the highway begins to climb the Torrey Pines grade.
12600 North Torrey Pines Road, San Diego CA 92037
GPS: 32.92183, -117.2497
Phone (858) 755-2063
Mailing Address: Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve California State Parks San Diego Coast District North Sector 2680 Carlsbad Blvd. Carlsbad CA 92009
Fees There is a parking fee for any car entering Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
General: $10 (everyday)
Senior (62+): $9 Disabled:$5 (with qualified Dept Parks Recreation pass)
Bus with 10-24 people: $50 all days Bus with 25+ people: $100 all days Annual pass: $125 State Park Online Payment
If there is no staff person in the kiosk at the park entrance, the parking fee can be paid at Visitor Center at the top of the mesa. No reservations or permits are required.
Operating Hours Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is open daily at 8 AM. Closing time is approximately at sunset. Sunset varies from 4 PM in the winter to 8 PM in the summer. See San Diego Sunset Time for approximate closing time. Actual closing time is posted each day at the Reserve entrances and parking lots.
The Visitor Center hours are daily 9 AM to 6 PM during summer daylight saving time and 10 AM to 4 PM during winter standard time.
Interpretive Services & Guided Nature Walks
Be sure to visit the museum at the Visitor Center to see the exhibits of the natural and cultural history of the Reserve. Weekends and holidays there are interpretive nature walks at 10 AM and at 2 PM. Check at the Visitor Center for other programs which may be offered. Requests for group interpretive and educational programs should be made two weeks in advance.
Rules Fire, erosion and off-trail hiking can damage fragile natural features beyond repair. To help preserve natural features, and for your own safety, you must observe these basic rules:
Stay on officially designated trails. Cutting across switchbacks and between trails, going into closed areas, and climbing cliffs are activities that cause severe environmental damage and can be dangerous. These activities are prohibited.
All smoking and fires are prohibited in the Reserve. Smoking is permitted at the beach.
No picnics are allowed in the Reserve. You may picnic on the beach. Do not take food or drink (except for water) on any trail except to carry them to the beach. Fires are permitted at the beach in your own BBQ. No fire pits are available. No alcohol is allowed.
Dogs and horses are prohibited from the Reserve and from the beach.
No bicycles. motorcycles. or any other vehicles except baby strollers and wheelchairs are permitted on any trail.
All natural or historic features are protected by state law. Do not collect pine cones. Do not pick wildflowers. They must be left to produce seed to grow new plants and as food for animals. Leave plants, animals, and rocks for the next visitor to enjoy.
Park only in designated parking lots. Stopping on road shoulders is not permitted.
Keep small children with an adult at all times. The cliffs and canyons can be dangerous places.
Long before Europeans arrived, the Torrey Pines area was home to the Kumeyaay. Their lands extended from the Pacific Ocean south to what is now Ensenada, Mexico, east to the sand dunes of the Colorado River in the Imperial Valley, and north through the Warner Springs Valley, to what is now Oceanside and Highway 78. These lands were linked together by vast trading networks.
Living in bands of extended families, the Kumeyaay traveled the coast, mountains, and desert foothills. They spoke several dialects - the "Ipai" here in the north, and the "Tipai" in the south.
Their shelters and shade ramadas were constructed from local plants, which included willow, oak, manzanita, deerweed, tule, and chamise. Some of these, as well as other local materials, were also used in their fine coiled baskets and pottery.
Seasonally appropriate clothing, such as robes, capes, and blankets as well as skirts were made from rabbit skins. Buck skin, sea otter skin, and bark were also used. Shoes and sandals were made of agave or yucca fiber. Personal items included necklaces, bracelets, hairpins, and musical instruments. These were made from bones, claws, hooves and shells.
Stone was the raw material used for the making of many tools, which included knives and projectile points. The Kumeyaay were also adept at the use of milling and grinding tools used in the processing of many foods, such as the acorns, which were seasonally gathered in the local mountains. In addition, they gathered roots, berries, nuts and seeds, some of which were used for medicinal purposes.
The Kumeyaay were seasonal hunters. They processed many plants for food and practiced limited horticulture. They fished and hunted sea animals in the lagoons and ocean using fishhooks and nets. They also gathered grunion (small fish), shellfish, and mollusks from the beaches. The Kumeyaay hunted game ranging from rabbits and quail to large animals such as deer using implements like bows and arrows, throwing sticks and snares.
Today, Kumeyaay people still live in many of the same areas, including San Diego County and neighboring Baja California, Mexico. To learn about Kumeyaay language, stories and customs, visit their websites at www.Kumeyaay.org. and www.Kumeyaay.com. Mike Winterton, TPSNR Ranger
Naming of the Torrey Pine
Because groves of trees were not common along the Southern California coast, early Spanish explorers (1500-1700 AD) referred to this area as Punto de Los Arboles, which literally means "Point of Trees." They used this area both as a landmark and as a warning that they were too close to the shore in the fog. In 1769, the Portola-Serra Sacred Expedition passed through nearby Sorrento Valley on its way from San Diego to colonize Monterey and establish missions along the way. The trail they used is referred to as El Camino Real. The trees themselves were referred to as Soledad Pines (Solitary Pines) by the first non-Native Americans to visit the area. The name remained until 1850.
The first modern account of the Torrey pine occurred with the renaming of the tree in 1850. It was "officially" discovered by Dr. Charles Christopher Parry. This was the year that California became a State of the Union. Parry was in San Diego as botanist for the US - Mexico Boundary Survey. The purpose of the survey was to determine the boundaries between Mexico and California. Parry was a medical doctor with an interest in botany: specifically, why plants grew where they did and how Indians used plants. This area and the Torrey Pine tree were brought to his attention by entomologist Dr. John Le Conte. Parry named the tree for his friend and colleague, Dr. John Torrey, of New York. Torrey was one of the leading botanists of his time. He had co-authored A Flora of North America, and was the sole author of A Flora of New York State. Unfortunately, Torrey never came here. But Parry did send him samples of seeds, branches, and cones. Judy Schulman, TPDS Docent
Protecting the Pines
In 1883, Parry re-visited the area. Surprised at the lack of protection for the trees, he wrote a historical and scientific account of the pine emphasizing the need to protect the tree from extermination. This was presented to the San Diego Society of Natural History.
The first source of protection came in 1885 from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. They posted signs citing a reward of $100 for the apprehension of anyone vandalizing a Torrey pine tree.
This attempt to protect the trees was reinforced by botanist J. G. Lemmon of the newly formed California State Board of Forestry. In 1888, he suggested that appropriate legislation be mandated to protect the tree. That same year, the mystique of the tree was enhanced by botanist T. S. Brandagee's discovery of Torrey pines on Santa Rosa Island. Several theories have been set forth trying to explain the two stands of trees some 175 miles apart. These include that trees were planted there from bird droppings; that earthquakes moved landmasses over long periods of time due to plate tectonics; and that the trees were once more widely spread along the Southern California coast.
In 1890, some pueblo lands in San Diego were leased for cattle and sheep grazing. This was in spite of early warnings for preservation. In order to clear the land, trees were cut and hauled away to be used for firewood. The present Torrey Pines area was included in this lease. Judy Schulman, TPDS Docent.
Establishment of Park
Persuaded by city father George Marston, botanists David Cleveland and Belie Angler, the City Council in 1899 passed an ordinance to set aside 364 acres of pueblo lands as a public park. Unfortunately, the ordinance made no provisions for protecting the tree.
After the turn of the century, the lands surrounding the park were in danger of being commercially sold. Between 1908 and 1911, newspaper woman and philanthropist, Ellen Browning Scripps, acquired two additional pueblo lots and willed them to the people of San Diego. This added to the park the area of North Grove and the estuary. By the time she died in 1932, Miss Scripps had contributed greatly not only to the establishment of our park, but also to the Natural History Museum, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Zoo, the La Jolla Childrens' Pool, and the Scripps Clinic and Research facility.
Representing the San Diego Society of Natural History and the San Diego Floral Association, Guy Fleming and Ralph Sumner visited the park in 1916 to conduct botanical studies. Their report of damage caused by picnickers and campers resulted in public support for the preservation of the area. The movement was spearheaded by Miss Scripps.
In 1921, Miss Scripps and the City Park Commission appointed Guy Fleming as the first custodian of the park. A former naturalist and landscaper, he later went on to become the District Superintendent for the State Park System in Southern California.
In 1922, Miss Scripps retained Ralph Cornell, a well known landscape architect, to suggest a long term plan for the park. His three-part plan called for restrictions against changing the original landscape or introducing plants or features not indigenous to the area or over-cultivating the Torrey pine to the exclusion of open spaces. Judy Schulman, TPDS Docent
Torrey Pines Lodge Built
Also in 1922, Ellen Browning Scripps financed the construction of Torrey Pines Lodge. The architects were Richard Requa and H. L. Jackson. They applied modern methods to the use of adobe bricks. These modern methods were said to protect the earth walls from rain, capillary moisture, and earthquakes. The lodge was styled after the Hopi Indian houses of the Arizona desert. According to one newspaper article, Indian crews were brought over from Arizona to insure exactness of the construction. Requa was one of the leading exponents of the Mission Revival style. Later he became the Director of Architecture for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition at Balboa Park.
The Lodge was completed in February, 1923, and used as a restaurant. Both tour buses and locals out for a Sunday drive made it a regular stop. Our current display area was the main dining room. People also ate out on the front terrace. The ranger office was the kitchen and food storage area. The slide room and the docent lounge were the living room and bedroom of the Burkholders, the first restaurant proprietors. The Resource Ecologist's office was the waitresses' bunkroom. Judy Schulman, TPDS Docent
Expansion of the Park
In 1924, the city council added other pueblo lands to the park. This addition was the result of a request for expansion by the City Park Commission and interested civic groups. The park now included almost 1,000 acres of cliffs, canyons, mesas, and beach. Between 1928 and 1930, the League To Save Torrey Pines fought and won against a proposed cliff road above the beach. The purpose of the road was to eliminate curves and grades in the old road. The opponents felt that the road would not only destroy a section of the park but would also be costly to build. One of the reasons the League was so against this new road was that it called for using landfill in the canyons so that the road could go across them.
With the advent of W.W.II, the Army leased 750 acres of Torrey Pines Mesa from the City of San Diego to be used for training purposes. Camp Callan then came into being as an anti-aircraft artillery replacement training center. It extended from the southernmost boundaries of Torrey Pines Park towards the Muir Campus of UCSD. In return for an occupational permit to use the lower portion of the park, the military had to guarantee that no part of the park would be damaged. The park itself was kept open to the public. The camp opened during January, 1941, and closed November, 1945. The buildings were torn down and used for lumber to build homes for veterans.
The city park under the authority of the San Diego Department of Parks & Recreation did not have the legal authority to protect the many endangered species with the level of protection they needed. So a special city election in 1956 resulted in giving the nearly 1,000 acre park to the State of California for the higher protection afforded by being a state reserve. About 100 acres were appropriated for the construction of a public golf course. The State Park became official in 1959. In 2007 the nomenclature was changed to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Extension was acquired in 1970 after six years of effort. Starting in 1964, local conservation groups (Torrey Pines Association, the Sierra Club, the Citizens Coordinate) became concerned with bulldozing of Torrey pines on the north side of Los Penasquitos lagoon to make roads for residential developments. In addition to support from local civic, social, and school groups, there was a lot of national media attention. The acquisition added about 197 acres and 1500 trees. Plants in the Extension not found in the main part of the Reserve include the coastal blue lilac and the scarlet larkspur. Judy Schulman,
Interest Groups formed to Assist TPSNR
The Torrey Pines Association was founded in 1950 by Guy Fleming. Its purpose was to unite people interested in the protection of the tree. The Association was, and still is, involved in conservation of the Torrey pine and in serving as watchdogs of the area. Today they are known for their work in the acquisition of the Extension, lobbying for protection of the tree, supporting special projects for the welfare of the tree, providing funds for the enhancement of buildings and trails, supporting the purchase and maintenance of educational materials and furnishings, providing memorial gifts, and sponsoring publications concerning the Reserve.
The Torrey Pines Wildlife Association came into existence in 1965. Their purpose was to be involved with public education, scientific observation, and conservation. A group of the Association known as "lodge sitters" was the predecessor of the Docent Society.
The Torrey Pines Docent Society was started in 1975 under the guidance and training of Ranger Linda Engel. As an organization of volunteer nature guides, its members--just as they are now--were dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the natural features of the park. In addition to staffing the Visitor Center, members also give nature walks and do special projects. Some of these projects have included making a commercial for the State Park System "Year of the Volunteer" in 1980, helping to fund a cable series on State Parks, publishing books, producing postcards, and designing museum displays. Judy Schulman,
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