10 Best Hiking Trails in Torrey Pines (For All Levels)

Along the southern shores of the tempting blue waters of the Pacific Ocean is a stretch of protected coastline that is unlike any other. Within the city of San Diego are numerous options to enjoy the outdoors in several different and unique ways.

Whether it is resting on the luxurious shores of La Jolla Cove or strolling the boardwalk of Pacific Beach, the natural beauty of this coastline is unmatched.

Tucked away along the shore is a unique section of shoreline of craggy cliffs and lush foliage – and a natural habitat for many coastal creatures. This is the one and only Torrey Pines.

Beauty and diversification – this is the best way to describe the natural coastline of Torrey Pines. Inland, you can explore 1,200 acres in Balboa Park with incredible walking paths, gardens, and even small museums.

You can spend the day on the shores of one of California’s most picturesque beaches – Black beach and watch dozens of surfers conquering waves or wiping out with furious ocean waves.

You could even catch a major golf tournament at the world-famous, Torrey Pines Golf Course. But none of these activities measure up to the highlight for outdoor activities. That trophy goes to Torrey Pines State Park.

The Torrey Pines State Park is more than 2,000 miles of rugged coastal wilderness hidden away in an urban environment. The park is a protected habitat for several endangered species and one of the places to see the rarest of pine trees – the Pinus Torreyana, aka the Torrey Pine.

With all the unique elements that make Torrey Pines one-of-a-kind, the table has been set for some of the most stunning hiking trails in the entire world. Although many trails are short, they are all unique in their own way.

T&T Tip: Before you go, here are some things you should know.

  • Torrey Pines is small but extremely popular. Try to get a parking spot early, finding a legal place to park your vehicle can be difficult in the afternoon hours.
  • Pay attention to tidal patterns. Some of the hikes listed will bring you to the rocky shores. During low tide, these beaches are perfectly harmless, but the high tide comes in fast – so be prepared and NEVER turn your back on the powerful Pacific Ocean and its sneaky waves.
  • Have fun – but remember that this terrain can be extremely delicate and may not recover if not cared for. Please pack out any garbage, do not litter, and stay on the designated trails.

Torrey Pines Hiking Trails: Find Your Favorite

1. Torrey Pines Beach Trail Loop

Credit: Michael Kemper / Flickr

Directions: From Del Mar, drive south on Camino Del Mar toward 13th Street for 1.5 miles and merge onto N Torrey Pines Road. Continue for 0.7 miles and make a slight right onto Torrey Pines Park Road and after 0.2 miles, the parking area will be on your right.

If you were only going to attempt one hiking trail, the Torrey Pines Beach Trail Loop is an absolute must. This quintessential Torrey Pines hike has it all.

Along this path are high cliffside overlooks, a walk through the lush and diverse vegetation in the hills, as well as taking a walk on the quiet shores of Torrey Pines State Beach. The hiking trail has two iconic lookouts – Yucca and Razor Point.

As mentioned before, try to visit during low tide. When the tide is at its highest, the access to the beach is replaced with powerful waves tumbling and crashing repeatedly against the sturdy rock cliffs.

The beginning of the trail follows along the edge of the tall cliffs on the beach. Take a moment to appreciate the different seasons permanently painted in the natural history of the walls. Before heading up the stairs, look for several tide pools not too far from the steps.

The trail wanders upwards through a dry canyon before it leaves you on the level and sandy hiking trail. Continue climbing and follow the signs for Yucca and Razor Point. Both overlooks provide beautiful expansive views of the Pacific Ocean as well as views of the entire park from above.

After taking time to appreciate the grandeur of the park, return the way you came and be sure to return before the tide turns.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.3 Miles
Elevation Gain: 364 Feet

2. Torrey Pines State Beach and Broken Hill Trail

Credit: Shutterstock

Directions: From La Jolla, drive north on Gilman Drive for 0.7 miles and merge left onto La Jolla Village Drive West. After 0.1 miles, turn right onto La Jolla Village Drive and continue for 0.2 miles before merging onto N Torrey Pines Road. Continue on N Torrey Pines Road for 1.6 miles and use the left two lanes to turn left to stay on N Torrey Pines Road. After 2.9 miles, make a sharp left onto Torrey Pines Park Road and after 1.0 miles, the trailhead will be on your right.

The Torrey Pines State Beach and Broken Hill Trail is an easy hike through the park that is suitable for hikers of all skill levels. Starting from the southernmost point of the park, there is a half-mile walk along a paved and level walkway from the parking area.

This part of the trail is significant as this path is a portion of the original route of Highway 101. From here, you can see most of the preserve before reaching the trailhead.

The Broken Hill trail is the combination of the North Fork and the South Fork, the direction of the loop that you decide to take is completely up to you. The trail is very well-marked and has recently been regraded, making for ideal hiking conditions.

There will be a fork in the road at the halfway point of the hike – you can choose to continue the Broken Hill Trail, or you can make your way down to the shores of the pristine beach before continuing your journey.

Before returning, keep an eye out for Broken Hill Spur. This overlook is unmarked and rests on the edge of the eroding cliffs. This vantage point provides beautiful panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean for as far as the eye can see. If chasing sunsets, this is THE spot for the best views of the setting sun.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.3 Miles
Elevation Gain: 390 Feet

3. Red Butte, Yucca Point, and Razor Point Trail

Credit: Michael Kemper / Flickr

Directions: From La Jolla, drive north on Gilman Drive for 0.7 miles and merge left onto La Jolla Village Drive West. After 0.1 miles, turn right onto La Jolla Village Drive and continue for 0.2 miles before merging onto N Torrey Pines Road. Continue on N Torrey Pines Road for 1.6 miles and use the left two lanes to turn left to stay on N Torrey Pines Road. After 2.9 miles, make a sharp left onto Torrey Pines Park Road and after 1.0 miles, the trailhead will be on your right.

Similar to many of the hikes in Torrey Pines – the Red Butte, Yucca Point, and Razor Point Trail are a few smaller hikes connected into one long loop.

The hike begins at the Torrey Pines Visitors Center and is a 0.8-mile hike along the road until reaching the trailhead – a short and accessible offshoot that leads to the West Overlook. You will pass Whitaker Garden and Scripps Overlook before reconnecting on the Red Butte Trail.

The path will begin ascending into the hills before reaching a steep stretch that leads you to the edge of Red Butte. On the butte, there are large rocks that are excellent for bouldering while overlooking the Pacific Ocean in one of the park’s best photo opportunities.

After playing on the rocks, continue downhill on the path and it will connect you to Razor Point Trail. Loop around until reaching Razor Point and enjoy the expansive views before moving to Yucca Point.

Once you are satisfied with beautiful overlooks, the trail will begin to circle back to Red Butte. From here, just follow the same path back downhill to the Visitor’s Center, where the hike began.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 216 Feet

4. Guy Fleming Trail

Credit: Patricia Barden / Flickr

Directions: From La Jolla, drive north on Gilman Drive for 0.7 miles and merge left onto La Jolla Village Drive West. After 0.1 miles, turn right onto La Jolla Village Drive and continue for 0.2 miles before merging onto N Torrey Pines Road. Continue on N Torrey Pines Road for 1.6 miles and use the left two lanes to turn left to stay on N Torrey Pines Road. After 2.9 miles, make a sharp left onto Torrey Pines Park Road and after 1.0 miles, the trailhead will be on your right.

The Guy Fleming Trail is a short trail in Torrey Pines, but also gives the best bang for your buck. If you are lucky (or ambitious) enough to get up early and grab one of the parking spots at the top of the hill – wonderful.

If not, you will be required to park at the bottom of the hill and walk for approximately twenty minutes up an incredibly steep section before reaching the trailhead. The good news? Once you arrive at the trailhead, this stunning trail has extraordinarily little elevation gain.

From the trailhead, it is just a short half-mile walk along the edge of a beautiful coastal cliff with incredible ocean views for the entirety of the hike.

Along the trail is a single bench, which is a perfect place to get a photo-op overlooking the deep-blue Pacific Ocean. This trail has no shade – be sure to bring plenty of skin protection, depending on how long you plan to stare across the sea.

With the easy difficulty and overall shorter length of the hike, the Guy Fleming Trail is also the most heavily visited part of the park. While you will be short on privacy, you will get to appreciate Torrey Pine’s majestic coasts, without the effort.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 0.8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 52 Feet

5. Torrey Pines via Gliderport and Black’s Beach Trail

Credit: Bob Snell / Flickr

Directions: From La Jolla, drive north on Gilman Drive for 0.7 miles and merge left onto La Jolla Village Drive West. After 0.1 miles, turn right onto La Jolla Village Drive and continue for 0.2 miles before merging onto N Torrey Pines Road. Continue for 1.2 miles and turn left onto Torrey Pines Scenic Drive and after 0.4 miles, the trailhead will be on your left.

The hike to Torrey Pines via Gliderport and Black’s Beach Trail is a beach stroller’s dream. This trail is essentially a straight line down the coastline in Torrey Pines and the distance is open for interpretation.

Park your vehicle at the Torrey Pines Gliderport, just south of the state park. Here, parking is free, and the lot is seldomly at capacity.

Work your way down the steep and winding manufactured staircase down to Black’s Beach. From here, the directions are simple – walk north on the shores of the Pacific Ocean for as long as you choose to go before turning around.

Keep in mind that Black’s Beach is a clothing-optional and it is best to hold off on taking photos until you venture north for everyone’s privacy.

The further you venture down the beach, you will see several staircases or “exits” along the way. These staircases lead to the very trailheads on this list!

Along the way, you could branch off to Flat Rock, Yucca Point, or Razor Point if you would like a capture an overlooking view of the beach. You can walk this trail to Del Mar if you choose to do so, or you could always turn around at any point.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 4.5 Miles
Elevation Gain: 367 Feet

6. Badlands at Broken Hill Trail

Credit: Insu Nuzzi / Flickr

Directions: From La Jolla, drive north on Gilman Drive for 0.7 miles and merge left onto La Jolla Village Drive West. After 0.1 miles, turn right onto La Jolla Village Drive and continue for 0.2 miles before merging onto N Torrey Pines Road. Continue on N Torrey Pines Road for 1.6 miles and use the left two lanes to turn left to stay on N Torrey Pines Road. After 2.9 miles, make a sharp left onto Torrey Pines Park Road and after 1.5 miles, the trailhead will be on your right.

The Badlands at Broken Hill Trail is one of the most unique features in the entire park. To reach the trailhead from the parking area, follow the paved path for half a mile and you will reach the beginning of the hike. The trail is very well-maintained and is rated ADA accessible.

From the onset of the hike, you will be rewarded with overlooking views of the world-famous Torrey Pines Golf Course before venturing up onto the South Fork in the park. On a cloudless day, you can see as far as Black Mountain in the Rancho Penasquitos Mountain Range.

Follow the edge of the sea cliffs uphill until the trail ends abruptly. In front of you will be an overlooking view of the arid eroding ridges of Broken Hill – resembling the dry ranges in Badlands National Park in Western South Dakota.

In addition to these incredible desert hills, the trail has clear views of the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean for the entirety of the journey.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 2.5 Miles
Elevation Gain: 308 Feet

7. Parry Grove Trail

Credit: stecki / Flickr

Directions: From La Jolla, drive north on Gilman Drive for 0.7 miles and merge left onto La Jolla Village Drive West. After 0.1 miles, turn right onto La Jolla Village Drive and continue for 0.2 miles before merging onto N Torrey Pines Road. Continue on N Torrey Pines Road for 1.6 miles and use the left two lanes to turn left to stay on N Torrey Pines Road. After 2.9 miles, make a sharp left onto Torrey Pines Park Road and after 0.6 miles, the trailhead will be on your right.

The Parry Grove Trail is unique in the fact that it does not intersect with any other Torrey Pines trail. The trailhead is off the side of the road in the center of the park.

While this trail has the Pacific Ocean view of the other Torrey Pines hikes, this trail is more about the beautiful flora and fauna you will encounter on your walk.

This short hike leads you down a steep manufactured staircase of a quad-burning 118 steps. Thanks to the difficult entry, this trail is rarely overpopulated and allows you to hike in peace.

The loop takes you along the sea cliffs, circling a beautiful meadow of flora, including an abundant blooming field of wildflowers. Continue the loop until reaching the wonderfully scenic Scripps Overlook. There is a bench at the overlook and a local favorite site to enjoy a bright and memorable pacific sunset.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 0.6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 111 Feet

8. Flinkote Torrey Pines Trail

Credit: Roger Riedlbauer / AllTrails

Directions: From Del Mar, head south on Camino Del Mar toward 13th Street for 0.8 miles and turn left onto Del Mar Heights Road. After 1.0 miles, turn right to merge onto I-5 S. Continue for 1.1 miles and use the right two lanes to take exit 32 for Carmel Mountain Road. Use the right two lanes to turn right onto Carmel Mountain Road. After 1.4 miles, turn left onto Sorrento Valley Road followed by an immediate right onto Sorrento Valley Blvd. After 0.3 miles, use the right two lanes to turn right onto Roselle Street and after another 0.1 miles, turn left onto Dunhill Street. Continue for 0.9 miles, merging with Flintkote Avenue and you will reach the parking area.

The Flinkote Torrey Pines Trail is located on the seldom-visited east side of the park, across the N Torrey Pines Road. The trail is less about ocean views and picturesque seaside cliffs and more about journeying through the natural vegetation of this unique area.

The path is an out-and-back hike, but if you have the means, this hike can be a point-to-point trail if you park one car on the north side of the park, near Tower 2.

This trail is primarily a coastal marsh, where wildlife such as herons, egrets, and shorebirds make this section their home. Another species of wildlife you may want to avoid are rattlesnakes. The trail can be overgrown, and the environment is an ideal habitat for these slithering rattlers.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 3.8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 98 Feet

9. Torrey Pines Marsh Trail

Credit: dfosket / Flickr

Directions: From Del Mar, head south on Camino Del Mar toward 13th Street for 1.5 miles and merge onto N Torrey Pines Road. After 0.7 miles, make a right onto Torrey Pines Park Road and after 0.1 miles, the parking area will be on your left.

The Torrey Pines Marsh Trail is similar to the Flinkote Torrey Pines Trail in that it takes place in the wetlands of the eastern section of Torrey Pines State Park.

For this trail, park in the Torrey Pines Beach Parking Area on the north side of the park before making your way to the trailhead on the east side of N Torrey Pines Road.

The primary difference between the Torrey Pines Marsh Trail and the Flinkote Torrey Pines Trail is that the marsh trail has a series of offshoots that allow you to get deeper into the marsh.

After rainfall (very rare), these offshoots are flooded and inaccessible. Under no circumstances should you attempt to push through these flooded conditions – for your safety, but more importantly, protecting the conditions of this unique environment.

Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: 4.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 98 Feet

10. Mar Scenic Trail (North Torrey Pines)

Credit: Nina Irawati-Krause / AllTrails

Directions: From Del Mar, head south on Camino Del Mar toward 13th Street for 1.4 miles and turn left onto Carmel Valley Road. Continue for 0.4 miles and make a left onto Del Mar Scenic Parkway. After another 0.3 miles, the trail will be on your right.

The Mar Scenic Trail is peculiar in the fact that it is not in the traditional Torrey Pines State Park, but rather an extension of the park. In 1970, the park service recognized the growing development and made to decision to protect this 200-acre section of native marshland.

There are four different hikes equaling 3.5 miles in trails, but the most scenic is the Mar Scenic trail. One of the most advantageous features of this hike is the relative anonymity of its existence.

While this trail may lack the overlooking ocean views and the picturesque rocky cliffs, the park service has dedicated the extension to the preservation of this natural habitat for several species of wildlife in Torrey Pines.

Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.0 Miles
Elevation Gain: 203 Feet