The proximity to La Jolla and San Diego can make the reserve very busy. Day use fees (2014) are $10 per vehicle - approaching by a steep road off S21 that climbs 300 feet from salt marshland at sea level to a parking area next to a museum and visitor center - or free for pedestrians; the woodland is criss-crossed with footpaths and is especially popular with walkers and joggers from the nearby University of California-San Diego. Trees do not grow as much close to the cliff edge, where the land breaks up into a series of deep ravines and promontories. Some of the torrey pines are found here, though many have been lost to disease and fire in recent years. Flowers are abundant in spring, and several distinctive types of succulent plants and cacti grow in the reserve, such as the coast barrel cactus (ferocactus viridescens).
Torrey Pines Trails
The reserve has 6 main trails, which intersect and are all quite short. Here are brief descriptions of three of them:
Guy Fleming Trail - a 0.7 mile loop around gentle slopes through some woodland then across the top of the cliffs overlooking the ocean, which are covered by many wildflowers in spring. To the north, the wide sands of Torrey Pines State Beach are clearly visible, then beyond stretch the suburbs of Del Mar.
Razor Point Trail - also 0.7 miles; a slightly steeper path to a promontory between two deep narrow canyons, the seaward ends of which have extravagantly eroded sandstone mounds and gullies. Most of the trees are missing from the land along this trail though some do survive right on the cliff edge and will surely fall into the sea in a few years.
Beach Trail - a steeper, one mile path that provides the only access to the sea shore. The last part is quite exposed and narrow. The beach is flat, clean and empty, bordered by the 300 foot high sandy bluffs and with just a few tidepools and rocky outcrops.
The official brochure for Torrey Pines State Reserve, from the California State Park Service: