Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a park 20 minutes North of downtown San Diego, California. With over 1,500 acres of protected land and multiple hiking trails for all levels of the outdoor enthusiast the park offers fantastic panoramas from sandstone cliffs over 100 feet above the ocean and a gorgeous beach walk along the ocean and base of the cliffs. More information on the trails can be found here.
There is an entry kiosk at the South Beach Parking lot location which requires a fee for access. After the entry kiosk, if the upper lots aren't full, there is an option to drive up the cliffs and save about half a mile walking and 200' of elevation gain. These upper lots also provide access to the trails which are disabled friendly/wheelchair accessible. However, the upper lots are small and fill up quickly - most hikers park in the bottom lot and walk up the Torrey Pines Park Road for access to the overlooks and beach trails. Cheaper parking can be found at the North Beach Lot, which includes trails that go through the marsh, and is 3/4 of a mile walk to the South Beach Lot.
When to Go
It is least crowded earlier in the mornings and hikers will be more likely to get parking closest to the trail heads before 11am. Although it fills up quickly, there can be free parking found on the ocean side of North Torrey Pines Road. Weekends are the busiest and most expensive days to park in both the North and South beach lots. It's best to go during low tide as the beach walk isn't accessible during high tides and on days when there isn't a marine layer to maximize the visibility from the overlooks.