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Hike the Torrey Pines Trail in Channel Islands NP

Santa Barbara County, California



7.5 miles

Route Type



Added by Jared Blitz

Walk among rare pine trees while overlooking the blue waters of the coastline along Santa Rosa Island. 

The Channel Islands National Park website describes the Torrey Pines Loop Trail the following way:

"View one of the rarest pines in the world, the Torrey pine. The easier, moderate route allows visitors to view the pines along the flat Coastal Road. The strenuous route follows
the loop trail to the top of the grove, providing spectacular views. For the best route take the loop trail up the western edge of the grove, along the top, and down the steep, eastern side of the grove. For an easier, more gradual descent, follow the road down to Southeast Anchorage."

The "easier, moderate route" is roughly 5 miles round trip from the pier on Water Canyon Beach to the farther of the 2 trailhead entrances to the Torrey Pines loop.  The picture in the fold is of the first entrance to the Torrey Pines Trail loop. Hiking along Coastal Road is simple, but if it's mid-summer it can be tougher than it appears because of complete sun exposure.  Otherwise, if you have a breeze blowing the contrast between the dried-out, yellow grass and the different hues of blue in the Pacific Ocean make you feel like you're in a scene on a movie set.  

If you're going to make the effort to hike the 5 miles it is rather pointless to not hike the loop trail, which makes the hike a total of 7.5 miles roundtrip.  Even though the NPS says it's strenuous, I would rate it intermediate with a slightly steep climb up into the Torrey Pines.  The good news is if you find the hike to be tougher than expected there is a bench parked near the top of the hillside for people to rest and soak in the incredible view.  In order to ensure you get the best view possible, try to find your way up to the bench by 12-2pm when the sun has burned off the typical cloud coverage over the island.   The view won't be nearly as valuable without the sun hitting crystal blue ocean.

When you reach the top of the hill that is beyond the bench, remember the trail is a loop.  You'll see other unmarked trails leading deeper into the island.  Staying on the loop will allow you to walk under and through Torrey Pines, offering an opportunity to handle the massive pine cones they grow on their branches, eventually bringing you back down to Coastal Road for your trek back.

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Picnic Area

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