Torrey Pines State Reserve is one of the most beautiful – and popular – spots in San Diego County. The hike as I did it starts at the main parking lot and winds up the fairly steep asphalt road until it reaches another parking lot at the visitor center. Hikers can also park here, dropping the route’s difficulty to easy due to less distance and incline.
This is where the fun begins as the Beach Trail meanders through occasional pine trees (the reserve’s namesake Pinus torreyana, which only grows in a couple other spots in the world) and eventually slopes down through cliffs until reaching the beach. Hikers can walk north on the beach back to the parking lot (if tides allow) or hike back up the Beach Trail for more exercise or to explore the other trails that spur off this one.
Directions: Take I-5 north from San Diego, past La Jolla and take the Genesee Ave (Highway S21) exit west. Keep driving straight as Genesee Ave becomes Torrey Pines Road. Watch on the left for signs for the Torrey Pines State Reserve parking lot. Click here to view parking fees.