La Jolla Coast Walk Trail-Let’s Go!

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!


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.

Reef behind Childrens pool La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
Here is an example of the reef behind the Children’s Pool during a negative tide

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?

La Jolla Coast Walk Trail Map La Jolla

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

Goldfish Point La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
Here is the stairway going down to Goldfish Point

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.

North Goldfish Point La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
A northside view of Goldfish Point

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.

La Jolla Bluffs La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
Brandt’s Cormorants and California Brown Pelicans roosting on the north-facing bluffs south of Goldfish Point
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.

Garibaldi Fish La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
The California State Marine Fish- The Garibaldi -Photo Credit- Wikimedia Commons

The ‘Official’ Start of the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail

Historic La Jolla Coast Walk Trail Sign

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?

Kumeyaah Nation Plaque La Jolla Shores Beach
The Kumeyaah Nation is indigenous to San Diego and is traced back for over 12,000 years.

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

Beginning Trail La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
Goldfish Point is in the far background

We are at the beginning of the trail, looking back towards Goldfish Point.

Kayaks Caves la jolla coast walk trail
Kayaks checking out the caves

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!)

—>Sea Caves at La Jolla Underwater Park<—

Continuing On the Trail

Castor bean plant la jolla coast walk
Castor Bean Plant-Ricinus communis

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?

La Jolla Bay La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
La Jolla Bay- La Jolla Underwater Ecological Reserve with La Jolla Shores Beach and the bluffs of Torrey Pines State Beach in the far background.

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.

La Jolla Cove Pano La Jolla Coast walk Trail
The La Jolla Cove is the southern boundary of the La Jolla Underwater Ecological Reserve.

La Jolla Coast Walk Trail La Jolla Bluffs

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

Dr Seuss La Jolla Walk Trail
Homage to Dr. Seuss- Do you notice the Truffula trees?

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.

Lorax tree dr seuss la jolla coast walk trail
Dr. Seuss’s inspiration for the Truffula trees in the book- The Lorax

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

Bridge :a Jolla Coast Walk Trail

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

Rose Canyon Fault System La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
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!

Rose Canyon Fault System La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
The Rose Canyon Fault is located right underneath the bridge 

End of the Trail

La Jolla Caves Beach Pano 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.

La Jolla Submarine Canyon La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
The trench on the right comes up near Cave’s Beach, while the other trench on the left comes up at La Jolla Shores Beach.
end trail La Jolla Coast Trail
This bench is located at the very end of the La Jolla Coast Walk Trail

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

Caves Beach La Jolla Coast Walk Trail

Are you curious about the seven caves in La Jolla?

Here is a list of the names, starting from the east.

Seven Caves La Jolla Coast Walk Trail
Photo credit- The Cave Store

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.

—>Where to Go? San Diego King Tides<—

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

Coast trail Old Historical La Jolla

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!



12 Replies to “La Jolla Coast Walk Trail-Let’s Go!”

  1. This looks such an awesome adventure! When I traveled cross country we didn’t get a chance to hit up San Diego/surrounding areas. This will definitely be on my list now! Thanks for sharing!


  2. I am not a big fan of hiking but I have to say that you have definitely convinced me to check out this place. The La Jolla coast is beautiful. I am definitely adding it to my list of places to visit.

    1. Thank you for commenting Loshane! I would have to say that the La Jolla Coast is hands down the most gorgeous coast in all of Southern California! I hope one day that you will be able to experience it for yourself.

  3. This looks like such a nice coast walk!! Goldfish point looks like an amazing spot, I have never seen birds sit like that before!! Caves beach would be my go too, isolated beaches all to myself are usually where you’ll find me!! I do a lot of walking here in Australia, it is interesting to see what other countries have to offer!!

    1. Thank you for commenting Juvette! I had never seen the birds like that before either! I have to say, that I have always wanted to go to Australia. I hope to make it there someday!

  4. Hi Colleen
    Thanks for sharing the details of La Jolla so minutely. I feel you have been regular to this place and so have not missed a single point. I was reading the post as if I am myself had been present there but not so lucky to be. I have just bookmarked your page and would be in touch in case I would need more details.

    1. I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the tour! So you felt like you were there? That was precisely what I was hoping to hear! Thank you for taking the time to comment, and I hope that you will be able to visit San Diego soon!

  5. Hi Colleen,
    What a wonderful experience you had. Another thing to add to my bucket list, haha.
    The only thing missing was the breeze on my face and the smell of the ocean!
    Thank you for taking so many lovely pictures to share with us. I especially loved your Dr. Seuss information. I never knew!

  6. Wow! Thank you. I’m the artist to that Dr. Seuss painting (2.2). It used to look way better, but I very much appreciate the mention! Obvious love for my city, cheers!

    1. Hi Mary Jane! I am so happy that you found your way to my website! I would love to give credit to you. Would you like me to provide only your first name? Also, what year did you create this Dr. Seuss painting? Thanks again!

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