I am ashamed to admit that even though I have lived in the San Diego area for over 30 years, I have never heard of, much less been on, the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail.
Do not get me wrong, because I have been up and down the coast of La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya) more than I can count. It is one of my most revered areas in San Diego. So when I came across this hiking trail while researching, I knew I must go! Would you like to join me on a tour of the La Jolla Coast Trail?
Before we start our tour, I would like to mention that I have written extensively about walking the La Jolla coastline in a previous post, Let’s Take a La Jolla Coast Walk.
But to be fair, that post only concentrated on the area just west of Downtown La Jolla and ended at The Cave Store. Today I would like to continue the hike by following the path past The Cave Store and walking on the official La Jolla Coast Walk Trail. Confusing? Well, I sure hope not after you finish reading this!
Table of Contents
Discovering the La Jolla Coast Trail For the First Time
On a mild November day, my girls and I set off from our home to travel south down the coast to visit La Jolla, one of our favorite places.
What made our La Jolla experience even better was that we also got to experience a negative tide.
What Is So Great About a Negative Tide?
When the tide is negative, a significant portion of the shoreline is exposed, giving you an excellent vantage point to see what is usually covered with water.
These are stellar days for someone who is smitten with everything there is to do with the Ocean environment!
Where is the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail?
As you can see from the map above, the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail is relatively short (.4 miles) and is located on the bluffs behind many homes. Due to this fact, there is not much parking available. So, keeping this in mind, I will be linking The Cave Store’s address so you can get an idea about where this trail starts.
Goldfish Point is located right behind The Cave Store, in the northern section of Downtown La Jolla and just south of the beginning of the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail.
Here is an ideal spot to take in the incredible views of the La Jolla Underwater Ecological Reserve, La Jolla Bay, and a side view of the La Jolla Caves.
Usually, Goldfish Point was where we would stop our La Jolla stroll, but today we went out onto the Point to observe all the shorebirds roosting on the side of the bluffs. It was fantastic! It felt like I was in the middle of a wildlife documentary.
Why Goldfish Point?
I was wondering why this area was named Goldfish Point, and I think my daughters might have figured this out! Standing on the bluffs and looking down into the water, you can see the California state marine fish, the Garibaldi, which is orange. And when I say ‘clearly see,’ I mean if you have good eyes, because I couldn’t see them myself, but my girls sure did.
The ‘Official’ Start of the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
The La Jolla Coast Walk Trail was initially created in 1932 and was given historical significance in 1990.
Did you know that this trail is believed to have been a Native American hunting trail, dating back over 9500 years ago?
Archeologists have found evidence of late prehistoric Indian village artifacts around this location. That puts some perspective on the area.
Ready? Let’s go!
The Beginning of the Trail
We are at the beginning of the trail, looking back towards Goldfish Point.
Once we go around the first corner on the trail, we come upon Caves Beach, and boy was I excited! You see, early on, when I started this website, I created a post listing all of the beaches of San Diego County, and Caves Beach was one of the only beaches I had never seen.
As you can see, it is pretty isolated. The only way to get here is by kayak or paddleboard, unless the tide is extremely low, only about twice a year. (Update- I was able to visit a couple of sea caves on a super low tide day!- Check it out!)
Continuing On the Trail
Located on the bluff’s edge, I spied this big and beautiful castor bean plant. Native to tropical East Africa around Ethiopia, did you know that this plant is highly toxic and considered a weed here in Southern California?
I have to say that this was the first time that I had seen this plant in full bloom. Isn’t it stunning?
Here we are now looking down unto La Jolla Bay, part of the La Jolla Underwater Ecological Reserve, which spans over 6000 acres. The Reserve’s boundaries start mid-way at La Jolla Shores Beach and end at the southern section of La Jolla Cove.
As we continue on our way, we are never bored with the scenery. There are so many things to see, hear and smell while on our journey, and I only wish you could be experiencing them as well.
Imagine a light breeze, waves slowly making their way in and crashing lightly on the rocks, all while gulls are screaming in the distance.
All in all, a gorgeous Southern California day.
Dr. Seuss’s Influence on The La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
Did you know that Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) lived in La Jolla? His house is on Mt Soledad, about 2 miles east of the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail.
After some research, I discovered that so much of his work was inspired by La Jolla. For instance, do you remember our state fish, the Garibaldi? That fish inspired the story One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish? The Garibaldi is a very anxious and aggressive fish, just like the main character in the book.
Here is one more exciting fact concerning Dr. Seuss’s La Jolla connection. The above photo is a Monterey cypress tree found in the Ellen Browning Scripps Park. This particular tree inspired the Truffula trees in the children’s storybook, The Lorax.
I have been taking pictures of the tree for over thirty years. It stands out, if you know what I mean. ( Update- I am sad to report that this particular tree fell over June 2019 and is no longer there)
Devil’s Slide Footbridge
Here we have Devil’s Slide Footbridge, initially constructed in 1931 and again in 1991. An interesting fact, in the late 1880s, many would descend, by way of a rope, to reach the bottom in search of abalone.
It is believed that it was named Devil’s Slide because it is steep and prone to rock slides. It was not a safe way at all, and many were hurt in the pursuit.
I didn’t see it myself, but there is supposed to still be an anchor with a rope tied to it here by the bridge; actual remnants from over 130 years! I sure wish I would have seen it, but maybe next time.
Rose Canyon Fault System
I wished I had done a little more research on Devil’s Slide before heading here because I would have appreciated this section of the trail much more if I had.
Located right underneath the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail’s bridge is an earthquake fault line- The Rose Canyon Fault. Looking at the photo above, you will see that the palm trees fall off the bluff, and it is as if the tree trunks are growing almost parallel to the ground below!
End of the Trail
I was extremely excited to come to the trail’s end and get this incredible panoramic photo of La Jolla Cave’s Beach. Do you see La Jolla Shores Beach and Torrey Pines State Beach in the far background?
La Jolla Submarine Canyon
Do you also notice how calm La Jolla Bay is? There is a very deep offshore trench here, the La Jolla Submarine Canyon, which helps keep the waters relatively calm.
The trench comes right up to the beach around here and at La Jolla Shores Beach (see photo below.)
The deep trenches slow the currents down, making La Jolla Bay an ideal spot for kayaking and paddleboarding.
At the trail’s end is an excellent place to sit and enjoy the scenery of the La Jolla Caves. Do you notice the kayaks bunched up in front of the caves? They are getting ready to go inside.
Whale Watching on the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
Another fascinating thing to look out for is all of the seabirds that visit this location. If you peak over the bluffs, I bet you will see roosting birds.
I also wanted to add that this spot would give you an excellent vantage point to look for Gray whales when they pass by close to shore in November-January during their southerly winter migration down to Baja, California.
The Seven Caves of La Jolla
Are you curious about the seven caves in La Jolla?
Here is a list of the names, starting from the east.
I can not wait to come back here on another negative tide to see these caves up close and personal. You would have to start at La Jolla Shores Beach, about a mile away, to reach this beach, and I suppose it is slightly unrealistic to go by land because of the area’s seclusion.
You would only be able to come here by walking when the tide is extremely low, which happens during the day about once a year on a King Tide in January. Honestly, going by water is the safest way to see the caves. Many La Jolla Sea Cave Tours are available, so maybe I will be on a kayak next time!
End of the Tour
So what do you think? Pretty incredible, yes? All in all, I would have to say that this relatively easy hike is one of the best in all of San Diego.
When my girls and I visited, we hardly saw anyone on the trail. You would think it would be busier than it was, but again, I did not know about this site for over 30 years, so I can not fault all of the other San Diego natives unaware of the historical La Jolla Coast Walk Trail.
So now you know, will you share this information with others? I sure hope so!
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Thank you once again for visiting!
Until next time!
I am so happy that you made it this far! Would you like to help save the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail? There is a group doing just that.
I will leave a link to the Friends of Coast Walk Trail for more information! Mind you, instead of money; you may also volunteer!
Click on the link provided for more information!
I have always had a deep-seated passion for the Ocean Environment which ultimately led me to receive a degree in Marine Biology. Living in the San Diego area for over 30 years, I have extensively explored the 70 miles of San Diego’s coastline, and I am here to share! Please use my website to your advantage and have a look around at all the wonders that the beaches of San Diego can offer you!