Black's Beach

This page last updated February 4, 2009 by Lloyd Johnson

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February 15, 2001 Landslide Pics

Black's Beach is in San Diego, California.  The clothing optional status has suffered some losses, but it's still alive and well.

Read some of my recent trip reports.

Take a few tips to prevent unpleasant surprises.

As of July 2006, I have been to Black's thousands of times. There has been recent change, just after July 4, 1999. Signs were posted stating that nudity is illegal. These signs are sometimes missing, due to theft, but the law can still be enforced.  Put your clothes on when on the city beach, which begins somewhere south of the trail head, perhaps 100 meters.  In the past there have been cones with a sign marking the nudity line.  As of May or June of 2003 lifeguards have not been putting these markers up.  Instead there is a square, yellow post with the letters T P C B, marking the boundary for Torrey Pines City Beach.  The yellow post has been missing since about November 5, 2005, but there have been orange cones there lately. New visitors planning to spend time south of the Burro Trail, should locate the northern-most "nudity prohibited" sign and keep it in mind when going for a walk.

The southern boundary is marked by a very unofficial sign against the cliff, indicating the boundary between the city and state beaches.  Beyond is the city beach, Black's Beach, where nudity is prohibited.  The rock is near, on the nude side of the boundary.  The post and cones mark the point where you should dress.

As of December 2005 Torrey Pines State rangers reduced our territory further

About 1.1 miles to the north is our northern boundary, Mussel Mesa.  As you approach it from the south, you will see a buoy.  The buoy is often painted.

You will know you have reached Mussel Rocks when you see rocks in the surf.  There are mussels clinging to the rocks and small crabs, hiding in the cracks.

You will know you've gone too far when you see the sign against the cliff, saying, "ARFA CLOSED NUDITY PROHIBITED."

On the other hand, If you're heading south from Torrey Pines, you're almost there.


Beyond that is Flatrock.


The clothing optional tradition is alive and between these boundaries.  However, it is not actually Black's Beach, but rather Torrey Pines State Beach. We still call it Black's. The boundaries for the clothing optional area of the beach stretch from Mussel Rocks in the north to Salk Institute Road in the south.  Salk Institute Road does not actually reach the beach, but the boundary is where it would reach the beach, if it was extended. 

The beach is at the base of a cliff, which tends to isolate it. The hike down, and especially the hike up, is "challenging." Children often manage it better than adults.

The beach itself is very flat. The beach can be very wide at low tide and very narrow at high tide. I've been there twice when the tide was all the way up to the cliff. Check the tides before you go and if it gets above 6 feet in the winter, there will be little or no beach left. You can also get an indication of the weather and surf from the Scripp's Pier Cam. It shows an area just south of Black's Beach. Check my weather page.


What is there to do at Black's Beach?

Black's Beach is very popular with surfers. I've seen waves bigger than ten feet. I would say more if I knew what surfers consider to be perfect waves.
You might even surf with dolphins.




Many people ride waves on boogie boards.  .
Some ride without anything.


People hang glide from the cliffs.

You could fly a kite.


You could participate in a fine art study.

You could play some music,

beat your drum,

or crack your whips.


Pitch horseshoes.

You could toss around a football....

or a reasonable facsimile.


You could play Frisbee.

or volleyball.

You could play paddle ball.

with your rhythm sticks.


You could launch your water rocket.

You could just relax in the sun.


A few people fish.  I've seen people catch corbina, halibut, croakers and surf perch


Watch the birds.

Feed the birds.

Clean the bird doodie off your pants.

Catch an release wild animals, like this lizard.


Observe a solar eclipse.

Watch the sunset.


Watch for the green flash that follows sunset.

Search the horizon for islands.
San Clemente



Some build sand castles.

You could build your own airport.
You could build your own hut.

Paint a friend.


Have a picnic.  Grill some burgers.  Make some ice cream.


Play a game of Scrabble.

Catch up on some office work.


Watch a daring cliff rescue.

Watch some military aircraft.


Collect a few shells.

Study some fossils.


You could call in the wildlife rescue, or just watch Sea World do all the work.


Join our swim club and see the life under the water.

Go kayaking.

Go scuba diving.

The waters can be hazardous. Rip currents and sting rays are the most common problems. I see lots of sting rays and guitarfish. Many of my friends have been stung. I have been stung once. Rip currents can take you way out. I managed swim back to shore against a ripe current at least once, but it was tiring. If you find yourself in such a current, don't try to swim against it. Swim parallel to the coast, then swim back. Lifeguards are present, making patrols, but they have only a few posts on the beach.

Black's Beach is a pack it in, pack it out place. You will find no trash cans. Fortunately we have a beach cleaning team. These guys go to Black's nearly every day. They arrive early, walk the whole length of the beach, typically filling a dozen grocery bags with trash. They carry it up the trail to the dumpster, then come down to enjoy their clean beach. If you figure out who these guys are, don't offer them your trash. Don't use them as an excuse to litter. Carry your own trash out. Do thank them for sparing your eyes of the horror of a littered beach.

There are out houses at the top, courtesy of the glider port.  There are no toilet facilities on the beach.  Some people pee in the same place as the dolphins.  Others climb a little ways into a canyon.

There is a constant parade of tourists, especially on weekends. Single men tend to be shunned and single women tend to get more attention than they want. I do see single women there and I also see children there. It is easy to fall prey to gawkers. If you follow some simple guidelines, you can avoid those problems.


Routes to Black's Beach:

There are no easy ways to Black's. There is either a steep climb, a long hike or entry by water route.

The trail head known as the Burro Trail is marked by this sign, stating that it's dangerous in the rain.

Far to the south is a beach house shaped like a mushroom.  It can be accessed by a rail car from a house at the top.  Unfortunately, it is private.