Although primarily used as a teaching reserve for the University of California San Diego, Scripps Reserve is also open to the public. Students and non-students alike can learn much along this short half-mile loop through the reserve's nearly 1,000 acres. The landscape ranges from coastal bluff and canyon to mesa top, sandy beach, rocky intertidal, submerged coastal plain, and deep submarine canyon. Only the coastal bluff and mesa top are accessible along the trail; the rest is home to many rare and sensitive species and is therefore off-limits. Dogs are understandably not allowed. The coastal ocean and intertidal areas are part of the San Diego-Scripps State Marine Conservation Area.
A visit in spring will provide the best timing to view the blooming of the plentiful Bush sunflower, which covers large swaths of the reserve in a bright yellow.
Several viewpoints provide cross-section vistas of a few geological layers. Most notable are the Del Mar Formation (greyish), Torrey Sandstone (yellow), Ardath Shale (grey-green), and Scripps Formation (pale yellow-brown). Along the pathways, keep an eye out for the marble-sized iron concretion balls from the topmost reddish Linda Vista Sandstone layer.
Rattlesnakes can be present any time of year. Make sure to stay on the trails and keep alert to them.