Scripps Coastal Meander Trail opens to public in La Jolla

Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) dedicated the Scripps Coastal Meander Trail June 2, opening a new segment of the ocean-view public walking path near the northern end of Biological Grade at La Jolla Shores Drive.

Part of a network of trails, the recent 380-foot bluffside segment will connect two overlooks — one established and one planned — and features a boardwalk spanning a coastal terrace more than 150 feet above the beach.

At the dedication, UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said, “As a public university, UC San Diego is committed to sharing our re- sources, knowledge and discoveries with our community. This trail expands public access to our campus and showcases one of the best ocean views in California.”

Scripps director Margaret Leinen said, “Scripps has been a proud member of the La Jolla community for more than 100 years, so I’m very proud of the Scripps Coastal Meander Trail because it represents a way of giving back to the public and our community. This trail and its breathtaking views are another way we can link our world with the ocean, which offers us a source of inspiration and beauty.”

Trails have been established incrementally on and around the Scripps campus over the last few decades, but Project Manager Ken Hall told La Jolla Light “we’ve been wanting to do this section for a while.” Difficult terrain made the project seem out of reach and cost-prohibitive, but in 2013, the California Coastal Conservancy granted Scripps $350,000 to complete the trail and landscape the area with native vegetation. SIO contributed an additional $262,000.

“Up until this point, people have been walking along Biological Grade and though not heavily used by vehicles, people were still walking in the road. This trail was meant to give people a nicer experience walking along the coast,” Hall said. “It was also an opportunity to do some habitat restoration because we had a lot of invasive species growing there. Whenever we develop a project of any sort we try to restore and plant California native plants that are drought tolerant more like the original habitat.”

With the dedication, the Scripps Coastal Meander Trail became part of the state’s California Coastal Trail program — a network of trails that, when complete, will afford a person the opportunity to walk along the California coast from the Oregon border to the Mexico border — and will soon connect two popular overlooks.

At the northern end, an overlook will be built after decommissioning and renovation of the former Southwest Fisheries Science Center is complete at the end of 2016. “The Southwest Fisheries building used to occupy the top of Biological Grade ... but there is a new facility across the street so the old one was decommissioned and three of the four building were taken down,” Hall explained.

“One building remains and Scripps is going to renovate that building for research and teaching labs. When that project is finished, there will be another public overlook there.” Visitors can enter or exit from either end of the trail, but when the new overlook is complete, there will be public parking there as well.

On the southern end of the trail, an overlook is already situated with a bench and decomposed granite, which Hall said, “has beautiful views of the Scripps Pier down to La Jolla Cove and north to Torrey Pines State Beach and beyond.”