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Broken Hill is one of the least crowded trails in Torrey Pines, but not for lack of scenery.
It’s simply farther from the main parking lots and trailheads, so you have to work a bit harder to reach it.
The hike wanders through healthy coastal chaparral, spring wildflowers, and the namesake Torrey Pine trees, growing among weathered hills and sea cliffs.
This more remote corner of the reserve also grants better chances of spotting wildlife. The loop is great in either direction.
As mapped, it starts along the park road to reach North Fork Trail then Broken Hill Trail.
The road is paved but closed to motor vehicles.
It is not especially scenic, but it is the only way to reach the start of North Fork Trail.
Once on this trail, the hike immediately becomes more aesthetic, following a narrow dirt path through dense shrubs and trees, and soon finding hilltop viewpoints. Broken Hill is a perfect example of the unique terrain known as badlands, which form in arid climates such as this.
Infrequent but sometimes heavy rains erode the soft soil, making deep furrows and steep slopes that later bake like clay in the sun.
The formations and vegetation on them are quite fragile, so be careful where you step and do not leave the trail.
Visit the Broken Hill Overlook by a short detour (mapped) from the main loop. Beyond the overlook, the trail meanders down toward the coast, where even bigger badland cliffs come into view.
It joins Beach Trail, then follows a little winding canyon with steep stairs at the bottom to reach the sand and surf.
Complete the loop by taking Beach Trail, which is fairly direct but links with other trails to make a longer and even more scenic loop possible. Note that Torrey Pines State Reserve has special rules to protect the fragile ecosystem.
Leaving marked trails is not allowed.
Pets are not allowed in the reserve.
Food and drink (except water) are not allowed on reserve trails. Note: As of April 2019, North Fork Trail and Broken Hill Trail to the beach are closed for repairs.
Broken Hill Overlook can still be reached via South Fork Trail. Sources: https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=657 https://torreypine.org/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torrey_Pines_State_Natural_Reserve https://torreypine.org/wp-content/uploads/maps/mapa.pdf