A frequent jogger at Torrey Pines State Park warns that the Broken Hill overlook, accessed from the furthest south trail directly adjacent to the north of Torrey Pines Golf Course, is dangerous and ought to be remedied.
“While running recently, I saw a 6- or 7-year-old boy run and nearly fall off the end of the Broken Hill overlook,” said the jogger, who requested anonymity. “This area has no guard rails, signs or cables. It is probably a 60-foot drop, which would likely cause death.”
In reporting the potentially life-threatening situation, the jogger said their objective was to “discuss this very easily corrected dangerous situation and to memorialize this warning.”
In answer, Lisa Urbach, North Sector superintendent for California State Parks San Diego Coast District, said the department is “unaware of any complaints or injuries regarding the lack of guardrails at Broken Hill."
Added Urbach, “Torrey Pines is managed by the California State Park System as a State Natural Reserve (SNR), and therefore man-made structures are kept to the bare minimum in order to maximize and preserve the ecological associations and scenic qualities of the SNR. At Torrey Pines SNR, we use an assortment of symbolic fencing styles to guide visitors on the approved trails for safety purposes, and to ensure that plants and geology are not damaged.”
Contacted by La Jolla Village News, San Diego-Fire Rescue Department said Torrey Pines SNR “is not in our jurisdiction,” according to spokesperson Monica Munoz, who added, “State lifeguards handle incidents in their jurisdiction. We haven’t assisted them with any calls at that location in the last six months.”
Said Urbach, “Currently there are no reports of incidents that California State Parks lifeguards have responded to at Broken Hill Overlook. As with any outdoor setting, we ask our visitors to be observant and aware of their surroundings.”
South Fork Trail to Broken Hill Overlook is on the rugged coastline within Torrey Pines SNR. This region is home to 300 species of endangered native plants, including the Torrey pine, one of the rarest trees in the world.
Due to the delicate nature of the ecosystem and the eroding sandstone cliffs there, park hikers are cautioned that “it is exceptionally important to stay on the trail.”
The jogger said they were perplexed in that “you [state parks] do such a wonderful job protecting visitors in this beautiful reserve including safety rails and cables in all the other areas,” while adding, “This is a good-faith warning to protect visitors.”
The jogger said, if it was up to them, that they would “put wooden guard rails in at least, or wire or other warning signs stressing that it [Broken Hill] is breathtaking, but that it is also dangerous.”
Torrey Pines SNR is located within San Diego city limits and remains one of the wildest stretches of land along the Southern California coast. It consists of some 1,500 acres of land left in a natural undeveloped state. The SNR includes a maritime chaparral plant palette featuring the rare Torrey pine, and miles of unspoiled beaches and a lagoon vital to migrating seabirds.
The SNR is special in that it is a reserve, not a park. A natural reserve status is assigned to an area of importance. Typically, it is an area that contains threatened plants, animals, habitats or unique geological formations. As such, a reserve is a protected area targeted for conservation and carries with it restrictions that are not found in parks. Of the 279 units in the California State Park system, only 14 have reserve status. Torrey Pines is one of them.
Reserve restrictions at Torrey Pines include: no food or drink, except water, in the reserve above the beach; dogs are not allowed anywhere; guests are warned to leave no trash; no smoking is permitted; all groups need a permit to hike there; and drones are not allowed anywhere in the reserve or on the beach.