Torrey Pines City Park has views worth the sweat effort


By Dave Schwab

Captivating ocean views, a trail meandering down to the ocean, canyons cleaving sheer cliffs, a gliderport next door: Torrey Pines City Park has it all.

Offering one of the most inspiring views to be found anywhere along San Diego’s coastline, this completely natural, largely undeveloped city park site is a hidden treasure along the cliffs and beach near UCSD.

Young and old were spied on a recent weekday trudging up the gradual switchbacks, picking their way up and down the cliffs from the ocean.

Though ocean breezes on the trail are cool and refresh, the vertical incline is unquestionably steep, so bring plenty of water — and a set of binoculars — both will come in handy. Bringing a beach chair to sit for a spell by the shore also isn’t a bad idea.

It’s all worth the effort though, and there’s one common sight hikers in the area will get almost nowhere else: birdseye views of hang gliders drifting overhead from La Jolla’s historic Torrey Pines Gliderport, which is part of the park.

Two years ago, Torrey Pines City Park Advisory Board, a group composed of nonmotorized aviators, environmentalists and community planners from University City, La Jolla and Del Mar, met for months to devise a compromise conceptual master plan for the park moving forward.

That plan calls for redeveloping the city park, but not “overdoing” it by bringing in water, electricity or other infrastructure. Instead, the advisory board determined the greater good would be served by conserving the 44-acre park’s coastal bluffs and native habitat, while protecting site access for all users, especially gliderport pilots requiring flight clearance.

The conceptual master plan envisions adding an additional 18 acres of plantings, including some Torrey pines, to 18 existing acres of native vegetation, while retaining all of the 565 parking spaces on the park’s unpaved bluff top.

— Editor’s Note: This report is part of Dave Schwab’s continuing series on places to hike in La Jolla. Read the others at