Torrey Pines State Reserve is a nature reserve just south of coastal Del Mar that includes seven hiking trails of varying difficulty, local chaparral and wildlife, stunning views, and is home to the rarest pine tree (that grows naturally in just two places), the Torrey Pine. Although this pine tree gets the glory, it's the 180 degree views of the San Diego coastline from just about any trail that steal the show. The free, rustic Visitor Center has some engaging exhibits and provides interesting information on the unique features of the reserve and the area's natural habitat. Groups of paragliders are often seen from the trails wafting over the shores. Feeling so far removed here from any hustle and bustle, you won't believe that I-5 freeway is less than 5 minutes away.
Locals' tips: Avoid the tourists and go either first thing in the morning or late afternoon. Park on North Torrey Pines Rd. at the beach next to the Reserve's entrance if you want to avoid $10-15 parking fees in the reserve. It's a steep walk up the paved hill to the trailheads and Visitor Center at the top, but still scenic and you can walk the beautiful stretch of Torrey Pines State Beach back to your car. Overall the dirt and sand trails are leisurely but be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. Bring food and water as there is nowhere to purchase these things in the near vicinity. You can't eat food in the reserve (due to habitat restrictions) but can carry it through to the beach. Take the longest of the park's trails, Beach Trail (3/4 mile) or Broken Hill Trail (1 1/4 miles), down to the beach and picnic there for lunch or to catch a fantastic sunset.
See more info at Torrey Pines State Reserve.
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