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  • Writer's pictureDale Hill

Making Tracks at Torrey Pines

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

Date: February 2, 2021

Distance: 9.36 miles

Total Elapsed Time: 4h 49m

Total Moving Time: 3h 49m

Summit Elevation: 417 feet *

Elevation Gain: 1,087 feet

Trailhead: County Route S21 (N. Coast Highway) *

Previous Ascents: September 25, 2020 *


  1. Max elevation reached at the southern end of Torrey Pines Park Road

  2. The hike started from beach parking on the N. Coast Highway

  3. Today's goal was to hike all trails within the TPSNR

  4. The previous ascent included Red Butte, Razor Point Trail, Beach Trail, and the lower section of Broken Hill Trail

  5. Peakbagger Summits: 4

View of Flat Rock from the Yucca Point Lookout

I arrived at the Torrey Pines State Beach around 11:30 a.m. and was happy to find parking along the beach just off the N. Coast Highway. My plan for the rest of the day was to hike all the trails within the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve (TPSNR). When I had hiked Red Butte last September for the SD 100 Peak Challenge, I had my infant granddaughter with me in a front-carry, facing-out soft pack. It was her first time hiking with Grandpa, so I limited our day to a total of 3-miles, she did awesomely but I didn't want to push my luck!

Today, I wanted to explore ALL the trails in the park! My plan was just to take them as they came with some consideration to minimizing how many times I had to 'double back' on a previously covered trail.

Since my morning had been full of searching for survey markers, I knew that I wasn't going to leave the park until I had added the Torrey Benchmark and its Reference Marks to my list of recoveries for the day.

My Itinerary

Click for larger image

I'll post my Relive 3D Video of the full hike at the end of the post where you follow along in a short animation of my route. Here's the order that I hit the trails:

  1. Guy Fleming Trail

  2. Parry Grove Trail

  3. High Point Overlook

  4. Whitaker Garden

  5. EB Scripps Overlook

  6. Torrey Pines Park Road to North Fork Trail

  7. Broken Hill Trail

  8. Beach Trail

  9. Yucca Point Lookout

  10. Razor Point Trail

  11. Red Butte

  12. Beach Trail back to Broken Hill Trail

  13. Broken Hill Overlook

  14. South Fork Trail

  15. Return via Torrey Pines Park Road

I ended up exploring around the Visitors Center area for a bit, made another quick trip up to the High Point Overlook, then headed down the hill. As I was logging my peaks in the Peakbagger App, I noticed that the Torrey Pines State Reserve High Point was not located in this section of the park, it was accessible on the Red Ridge Trail in the Extension part of the park about a mile away. It was a 1-mile loop trail, so I headed over there once I wrapped up at the main park (but that's another trip report!)

Guy Fleming Trail

With two lookout points, one where you could look north up the coast and one that gave you the southern view (last picture below) this was a fun trail to explore and is a fairly level 2/3-mile loop.

I love the quote from the Union-Tribune that "Guy Fleming is to Torrey Pines, what John Muir was to the High Sierras" I've walked a lot of miles throughout the Parks he played a role in creating, I'm grateful for his role in bringing them to us.

Parry Grove Trail

This is another short loop trail, it's somewhat secluded partially because of the steep stone steps you have to descend at the beginning of the trial, a sign at the trailhead warns you that there are more than 100 steps ahead.

As with cycling, what goes down, must eventually have to go back up. I passed a guy halfway up the steps, he was bent over hands on thighs, gasping for air, he just looked at me and said "this used to be a hell of a lot easier" 🤣

High Point Overlook

At the top of Torrey Pines Park Road, on the left-hand side is a set of stairs that leads a few hundred feet up to the High Point Overlook. It's a neat circular area with pipe railing that offers great views in all directions, inside the middle is a circular bench that made a great place to have a snack. I didn't take a picture of the general area, but I did map out the three survey markers that I recovered using my GAIA GPS App, the screenshot is the satellite view of the lookout with the relative positions of the markers (you can see ALL the markers I recovered this morning by clicking >> HERE << 😊)

The Whitaker Garden was loaded with interpretive signs identifying the various plants there and Ellen Brown Scripps Overlook was another cool viewpoint, both were short little diversions (and I didn't take any pictures) before I headed down the old concrete section of the Park Road towards the Broken Hill Trail.

Broken Hill Trail, North Fork Trail, Beach Trail, Yucca Point Lookout

I took the North Fork Trail and headed downhill to intersect with the Beach Trail, where I followed the stairs down to the beach. There was a guy over by Flat Rock fishing (you may see him in my video or the still pictures) and there were a few people sitting on the rocks but overall it was pretty quiet and relaxing. I hung out on the beach for a while enjoying the cool ocean breeze and the sound of the surf, then I headed back up the stairs and followed the Beach Trail upward. Taking the first left, then another quick left, I worked down a short trail to check out the views of Flat Rock from the Yucca Point Lookout pretty cool!

Razor Point Trail, Red Butte, Broken Trail Overlook, South Fork Trail, and back to the High Point Overlook

By this point I was hitting the trails I had hiked in September, so I breezed around the Razor Point Trail quickly and headed up to Red Butte to bag the peak again. It's a funky little rock outcropping that has a "Mars" kind of feel to it, and it always makes for good pictures.

From there I descended back down the Beach Trail to rejoin the Broken Hill Trail and work my way back up towards the South Fork Trail.

This time it was two right turns in quick succession to head down the Broken Hill Overlook Trail. Now, THIS was an awesome view...and likely my favorite of the whole day!

The first minute of this video was shot down on the beach, the second part is at the Broken Hill Overlook, like I said, the terrain is "otherworldly". Simply amazing!

All-in-all, my afternoon hiking around through TPSNR was extremely enjoyable, with just a few 'connector' trails that I chose not to repeat from my September trip, I managed to cover all the major trails in the Park. I recovered three more survey marks for the day and bagged four peaks on the Peakbagger site:

  1. Torrey Benchmark (at the High Point Overlook)

  2. Red Butte

  3. Broken Hill Overlook

  4. Torrey Pines Hill 365 (a short little jig on the west side of the old Park Road)

Relive 3D Video mapping my route today

What better way to close out this journey with a parting view of the beach 🥰

Happy Trails!

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