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Scripps Coastal Reserve

Scripps Coastal Reserve  

Scripps Coastal Reserve occupies nearly one thousand acres in La Jolla, California, ranging across a complex landscape including mesa top, coastal canyon and bluff, sandy beach, rocky intertidal, submerged coastal plain and deep submarine canyon.  

The reserve is surrounded by developed areas, so environmental awareness is essential for protecting the rare and sensitive habitats and species. There are two distinct parts to the reserve: the shoreline and marine protected area, and the upland area, commonly referred to as the "Mesa" or “Knoll.”

The Knoll

The upland area, commonly referred to as the "Mesa" or “Knoll,” includes a mesa 400 feet above the beach, and Black’s Canyon, with a paved, gated road with pedestrian access to Black’s Beach, and Sumner Canyon, which is privately owned.   

The Shoreline

Comprising coastal ocean and intertidal areas that are now included in the San Diego-Scripps State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA.)

Visit the reserve

The Scripps Coastal Reserve can be visited in several ways.

  • The intertidal and submarine portion of the Reserve are open to the public.  We ask that groups or anyone conducting research or organized educational activities go through the NRS Reserve Application Management System (RAMS).  
  • The mesa-top of the Reserve is not open to the public but can be visited in a number of ways:
  1. Potential visitors using the reserve for education, research, or outreach can apply for access through the NRS Reserve Application Management System (RAMS).
  2. Docent-led tours of the half-mile trail on the knoll are available for the general public. Email for the current schedule.
  3. We are always looking for volunteers to help maintain the natural environment. Email for more information.

Please note, there is no access to the beach from the mesa-top of the Scripps Coastal Reserve.  Local beach pedestrian access is available via Blacks Beach Way (0.5 mi north of the mesa), the Coastal Meander Trail on the campus of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and trails at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.






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