Preserving a La Jolla gem: Why Coast Walk Trail needs some friends again

Friends of Coast Walk Trail founder Brenda Fake points out the most eroded part of the path in La Jolla; as seen in March 2020.
(Photo by Corey Levitan)

Storm water is not a friend to Coast Walk Trail. Luckily, Brenda Fake is.

The La Jollan, who lives adjacent to the trail, is attempting to raise $18,000 to $20,000 to repair major erosion that has occurred due to rains and pedestrian use. So far, she’s got $4,500.

Friends of Coast Walk Trail (FOCWT) — which Fake founded in 2011 with Paul Teirstein and residents north of Coast Walk Bridge — wants to resurface the trail, level the walking path and remove invasive vegetation along the trail, which runs west of Torrey Pines Road between Coast Walk and Cave Street.

“I walk my dog every day here, and I come from a place where the park department is the No. 1 in the nation,” the Minnesota native said while narrating a tour for La Jolla Light. “So I was just shocked at the way this was being cared for. For the people who live on Coast Walk, this is literally our sidewalk.”

Fake pointed out several benches that were once installed alongside the trail but now sit two feet above it, the bottoms of their slabs exposed by erosion.

“This area here, this is the worst part,” she said upon arriving at what resembles the San Andreas Fault running precipitously down the center of the path near the trail head off Prospect Street. “Can you believe people walk over this? It is unsafe!”

The same deep groove was completely filled in and leveled in 2014 by natural resources management film Black Sage Environmental, which employed small rocks topped with hillside dirt and decomposed granite.

At the time, Black Sage foreman Tim Fraher told the Light the materials would be compacted “like concrete” from people walking on the trail, and that water would not absorb into the decomposed granite, which could prevent erosion.


“The City-recommended contractor did a pretty good job putting it down six years ago, but you have to maintain it,” Fake said, “and that’s about the time when FOCWT lost our permit because it expired and I couldn’t get the permit reissued quickly.”

Getting another permit took four years, she said, “which is not normal, and not what the City should be putting citizens through.”

Fake said she hopes to have the crevasse refilled, and the trail re-leveled, by June — provided the funds are raised by the end of April.

FOCWT was initially launched to remove the invasive arundo plant (a tall, cane-like grass that can grow up to 30 feet) from one of the hillsides almost overtaking the historic walking bridge. Similarly, FOCWT is now removing heavy century plants from the cliff by 1500 Coast Walk. Fake said considerate new neighbors are replacing the plants with erosion-resistant lemonade berry.

“It’s a pretty walk and it’s worth putting the time and effort into,” Fake said. “This has historic value, but also socially speaking, anyone who grew up here, this is where they would come.”

After this project, Fake said, she will have two more to fund along the trail, so she wants to expand FOCWT’s reach to gather memberships and donations beyond those who live nearby.

“The founding residents have contributed over $65,000 in the last 10 years to keep the trail cleaned up and maintained,” she said. “With these bigger projects, it’s time to open up the donation tent to the broader public.”

Fake said she is confident FOCWT can succeed in its mission to provide a continued safe, accessible green space along the coast. “I am certainly depending on it,” she said.

To make a donation or learn more: Visit

Due to erosion, some benches once installed along Coast Walk Trail in La Jolla now sit 2-feet above it; as pictured in March 2020.
(Photo by Corey Levitan)