I lived in San Diego for a year & did not know about Torrey Pines State Reserve. It looks like an awesome adventure to see what San Diego looked like when it came into being…
Torrey Pines State Reserve is an oceanfront reserve that has 1,750 acres of unspoiled land, which protects the unique landscape and various types of flora that were present from the mid-1700s, including the Torrey Pine, America’s rarest pine tree. There are 3,000 Torrey Pines in the reserve alone and aside from San Diego, the only other place in the country the pines grow are on Santa Rosa Island off the coast of Santa Barbara. The reserve also houses one of Southern California’s last salt marshes and waterfowl refuges. And if you come during the spring, you’ll see wildflowers on full display. Torrey Pines SNR is very popular and you should plan to come early or during the weekdays, instead of the weekends. Considering this is one of the most popular attractions in San Diego, not to mention a place enjoyed by locals, trails can become crowded very easily.
This area belonged originally to the Kumeyaay people. There is evidence of settlement, in what is today considered Kumeyaay territory, that may go back some 7,000 years.
Spaniards entered Kumeyaay territory in the late 18th century, bringing with them non-native, invasive flora, and domestic animals. Under the Spanish Mission system, bands living near Mission San Diego de Alcalá, established in 1769, were called Diegueños. From 1870 to 1910, American settlers seized lands, including arable and native gathering lands. City father George Marston persuaded the San Diego City Council in 1899 to pass an ordinance preserving 364 acres of the pueblo land as a park. Later between 1908 and 1911, newspaperwoman and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps bought additional land and donated it to the city. In 1916, Guy Fleming visited the park and after examining the current condition, pushed for preservation of the park and eventually became the District Superintendent. The Torrey Pines Lodge was completed in 1923 and a year later, more lands were added to the park. In 1956, it was decided that the park be handed over to the State of California for higher protection because it is a state reserve. In 2007, the park’s name was changed to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
State Natural Reserves have outstanding or unusual natural or scenic values. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a wilderness island in the greater San Diego urban area. The hike from the top of Torrey Pines State Park (starting at the visitor’s center) to the beach below is one of the most rewarding in all of southern California. Bring your bathing suit so you can take a swim! The Torrey Pines Visitor Center is located in a unique adobe building. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a day-use park only. There is no place to buy food or drinks. Visitors are advised to bring and carry drinking water on the trails—especially in the summertime. Food is permitted only on the beach areas.
—- Location —-
While Torrey Pines is a little bit of a trek from downtown San Diego (about a 25-minute drive), most visitors say going the distance was completely worth seeing the beautiful site. From Interstate 5, exit Carmel Valley Road west to Torrey Pines Road south (aka Highway 101 or Pacific Coast Highway). From Los Angeles, California Torrey Pines SNR is a little over an hour and a half drive (104 miles). From LA get on I-5 interstate and follow it South to exit 34. Get on Del Mar Heights Road and go west till you get to Camino Del Mar Road and turn South till you get to the Park entrance.
—- Park Camping —-
There is no overnight camping at this facility.
—- Free Camping —-
Based on https://freecampsites.net/#!La+Jolla,+CA,+United+States there are 14 free campsites within 50 miles of La Jolla, California.
—-Area Camping —-
—- Hiking & Biking —-
There are plenty of hiking opportunities at Torrey Pines SNR (8 miles to be exact). The trails offer a chance to get up close and personal with the Park’s beautiful sandstone ravines and badlands as well as great views of the coastline. Popular trails include the brief Guy Fleming Trail (0.7 miles round trip), which features two ocean overlooks, and the longer Razor Point Trail (1.4 miles round trip), which tours more of the sandstone geological features of the reserve. There is also the beach trail that leads to Torrey Pines stunning stretch of shore. There are also lots of Mountain biking trails in the greater San Diego area to choose from.
—- Things to do —-
Torrey Pines SNR is located within La Jolla, California which is one of the Northern suburbs of San Diego. There are all kinds of things to do in the greater San Diego area including taking a tour of the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier which was the longest serving US Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Visit the San Diego Zoo which is one of the top-rated zoos in the country. Undoubtedly the zoo’s most popular inhabitants are the Giant Pandas. Take a harbor cruise and see which ships of the Navy’s Pacific fleet are anchored there and watch the sea lions lounging on a buoy. Go to Balboa Park where there are more than 16 museums, multiple performing arts venues, lovely gardens, trails, and many other creative and recreational attractions.
—- References —-