Torrey Pines State Reserve Extension

Margaret Fleming Nature Trail A – Margaret Fleming Nature Trail – B

Distance: 2.4 Miles
Elevation Gained:  500
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 1:00
Critters: A showy lizard, quail, a rattlesnake, a swarm of bees

– Much of the beauty of the main reserve with none of the crowds.
– Magnificent specimens of Torreys

– Too small!


This park is the cure for congestion at Torrey Pines State Reserve. The extension, which protects a Torrey pines woodland on a bluff situated on the north side of Penasquitos Lagoon, receives far fewer visitors and contains trees in greater quantity and quality.

There are two trail options here, and both are solid, but brief excursion. The A trail climbs the eastern ridge in the reserve and emerges atop a wooded ridge marked by interesting sandstone erosion. The trail continues to a school and a park, but the best place to stop is at a small grove of Torreys. Here you can sit underneath a tree and enjoy the fresh sea breeze that makes even a warm day comfortable.

On the way back from this spot, I spotted a rattlesnake lying in the middle of the trail. I stopped at a respectable distance and waited for him to move away. I expected the snake to get up and go at the sight of me, but it decided it was not going to budge. I wasn’t going to take any chances walking past it either, since I know rattlers only strike when provoked, and my movement could be viewed as provocation. So, I settled for kicking a little sand at him. He clenched up, and his rattler set off immediately. If it’s possible for a snake to stomp its feet, this one did as it huffed off into the bushes, leaving the trail free of peril.

I headed back to the start and took off up the B trail. This trail climbs another ridge, and gives you the option of turning south to a ridge that overlooks the ocean, lagoon, and bluff upon which the main reserve sits. The northern option, or DAR trail, turns north and wanders through the thickest Torrey pine grove that exists in either park. The trees here are dense, creating an almost forest like feel in spite of the sage and chamise. There’s a bench where you can sit and enjoy the drone of the nearby ocean and the warbling of the aviary community.

I highly recommend this hike for a number of reasons. First, you get the Torrey Pines atmosphere and flora without the crowds. There are a few people here, but it’s not hard to find blissfully peaceful isolation. Additionally, this is the perfect hike for a beginner. The trails are easy, short, and accessible, and the rewards are excellent for the amount of effort expended. If you want to try to turn somebody on to hiking, come here. Finally, the trees here are, at times, magnificent. Torreys don’t usually get that big, but this section must have a few of the largest.

May: 54.5 Miles
Year-to-Date: 561.8

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