Coast Walk Trail gets some TLC with community’s help as Friends group launches new round of fundraising

Crew members with Black Sage Environmental work to stabilize a slope next to the Coast Walk Trail this month.

Repair and restoration efforts are underway along La Jolla’s Coast Walk Trail, with a little help from the neighborhood.

For the past several years, Friends of Coast Walk Trail has worked with the La Jolla Parks & Beaches group and the city of San Diego to carry out improvement projects on the trail, which runs between Coast Walk (a short street west of Torrey Pines Road between Prospect Place and Amalfi Street) and Goldfish Point.

But the Friends can’t do it alone.

La Jolla’s five Rotary clubs came together for a fundraising hike for Friends of Coast Walk Trail in October, and more than $7,500 raised is now being used to stabilize a slope.

In December, La Jolla’s J. McLaughlin retail store donated a percentage of proceeds — totaling $675 — during the holiday shopping season to repair a broken bench at Goldfish Point.

Students from The Bishop’s School in La Jolla have created a service club dedicated to monthly trail cleanups, and a local Eagle Scout recently completed a repair project.

“This whole trail restoration project has been organic,” said FOCWT President Brenda Fake. “The right people who see they can help show up. They have the right attitude. They are here to work. Eagle Scouts have wanted to do their service projects on the trail. I had students do their [school-required] community service hours there. The kids know this is something of value and something they want to take care of.”

Slope repair

With the money donated by La Jolla’s Rotary groups, work began March 7 to stabilize a slope next to the trail after rains in March 2020 caused significant damage, Fake said.

Trail Squad

Once a month, a group of students from The Bishop’s School volunteers to clean up the trail and complete any small tasks needed.

“I’m really happy to say some of the kids are willing to keep it going, even after they graduate,” Fake said. “They have been great.”

The group, dubbed the Trail Squad, is helmed by 17-year-old students May McConkey and Maddie Cramer.

“With COVID, people are going on more walks on the trail and trying to get out of their house more,” Maddie said. “We’re trying to help promote this restoration and the fact that the trail is something everyone can use. This is something the community has access to, it’s something that is always open. I love being active and being outside, and the trail is on a beautiful location right on the coast, so to share that and maintain that for other people is meaningful to me.”

May said she “grew up on the trail” and remembers sitting on its benches eating Cheez-Its as a child. “It’s near and dear to my heart. It’s a nice way to make a direct impact that you can see … and preserve the trail for the next generation,” she said.

During this month’s cleanup, the students painted a mural on boards placed along the trail, Fake said.

A new Coast Walk Trail mural was painted by The Bishop's School Trail Squad.

Eagle Scout

Boy Scout Alex Von Muller, 16, completed a railing repair project to earn his Eagle Scout rank, the highest achievement in the Boy Scouts.

“There is this part of the trail next to the bridge … and people can get hurt because it’s not the most sturdy,” Alex said. “With my team, I built fencing to make it safer there. It was a really nice project.”

After months of planning and measuring, the work was carried out March 6-7.

“We didn’t want anything to break before the second day, so we did a lot that first day,” Alex said. “The second day we reinforced it and put in some bolts and painted it to match the rest of the railings.”

Boy Scouts work to repair railings on the Coast Walk Trail as part of Alex Von Muller's Eagle Scout project.
Boy Scouts work to repair railings on the Coast Walk Trail as part of Alex Von Muller’s Eagle Scout project.

He said he chose Coast Walk Trail for his project because “I really like going on walks and it’s such a beautiful trail. Plus, I had to consider COVID safety and this was something I could do outside.”

“These folks did an amazing job with all the Scouts who showed up to repair the bridge,” Fake said.

Next phases

Despite the rapid-fire repairs that have been made along the trail, Fake said FOCWT isn’t done yet. Fundraising is underway for what she calls the “Year 2” projects. The goal is $50,000, and fundraising was jump-started with the donation from J. McLaughlin last year.

“The next thing we have going on is fixing the fence next to Goldfish Point,” Fake said. “It has termite damage and is falling apart. It’s about as bad a disrepair as you can have and still call it safe.”

She said the plan is to reuse as much original material as possible and replace what cannot be used. At the request of La Jolla Parks & Beaches, it will be painted white.

From there, the Friends will remove dead trunks from Torrey pine trees that had to be removed, and replace at least five trees. Then they plan to repair and fix the trail, which has deep grooves, and remove invasive vegetation and replace it with indigenous material.

“We have a new member on our board that is a master gardener, so everything will be native,” Fake said of the revegetation. “The stuff that is there can become a fire hazard. We have been cutting it as we see it, but it’s getting bad.”

‘Stone soup’

To describe the outpouring of community support, Fake calls on the “stone soup” parable.

The story goes something like this: Some travelers go to a village carrying nothing but an empty cooking pot. They go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone into it and place it over a fire. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travelers answer that they are making stone soup, which they say tastes wonderful and they would be delighted to share with the villager, although it still needs a bit of garnish, which they are missing.

The villager doesn’t mind parting with a few carrots, and they are added to the soup. Another villager walks by and inquires about the pot. The travelers again mention their stone soup, which hasn’t yet reached its full potential. The villager hands them a bit of seasoning. More villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, the stone (being inedible) is removed from the pot and delicious and nourishing soup is enjoyed by the travelers and villagers alike.

“That’s what the trail is like,” Fake said. “We just had to bring the rock and everyone else contributes. It’s a beautiful thing.”

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