La Jolla’s Secret Swing Gets Reinstalled

Photo via Ashley Mackin-Solomon of the La Jolla Light.

The popular part of coast where La Jolla’s secret swing hangs feels the effects of social media influence, encouraging more visits that put people at risk and cause irrevocable environmental damage.

It is unknown who stealthily removed the swing, but its disappearance was short-lived. Brenda Fake, founder of the nonprofit Friends of Coast Walk Trail, said, “I absolutely believe someone is going to put it back,” and she was right. 

Within the same week of the swing’s removal and just minutes after lajolla.ca spoke with her, the swing was back up, with no clues as to who was responsible.

Over the years, the ‘secret’ swing of La Jolla has been a highly visited and photographed spot, but it’s also been a huge topic of concern for many reasons. Fake has noticed a steady worsening of the cliffside that she attributes to social media and the popularity of the secret swing trend. 

Fake explains the swing is an “attractive nuisance,” bringing hoards of people wanting their TikTok-worthy video, requiring visitors to climb beyond safety boundaries, and ignoring signage warning of the dangers.

Know the risks

“Nuisance” may be putting it lightly. Anyone who breaches the barrier will find themselves traversing down a steep, slippery, and unstable cliffside putting themselves at serious risk of injury. Not to mention putting a strain on public resources for rescues.

Getting down to the swing is not easy, so visitors ill-equipped to navigate the rougher terrain struggle to get down and back up to safety, often without protective footwear. 

With the swing being reinstalled, it does not indicate it is somehow more structurally sound or safe. The ‘new’ swing still hangs from the same canary palm tree, which poses another danger. 

The palm trees are under siege, rotting from the inside out and dying due to a massive weevil infestation, and it’s only a matter of time before the tree collapses.

In the past, Fake has contacted the city for help regarding the swing and its removal. Still, at most, they approved and posted signage warning visitors to stay on the path and not attempt to traverse down the cliffside, with no specific signage regarding the swing and its dangers.

Therefore, it’s up to the public to exercise common sense safety practices and understand that if they venture beyond the warning signs, they do so at their own risk.

La Jolla’s secret swing popularized on social media

During the pandemic, there was a massive uptick in people getting out to enjoy the outdoors and explore, but many popular outdoor spaces noticed harmful effects. Tourists have been showing up in droves, seeking out unique, share-worthy places that would otherwise fly under the radar and sharing them on social media. 

With popular apps like Instagram and TikTok, the search for more off-the-beaten-path places is highly sought after and holds the potential for monetary gain from more likes, follows, and shares.

This culture of sharing it all can attract people who overlook and ignore potential dangers, putting themselves and the sensitive areas at risk.

Even if the intent at its core is to share a special feature against stunning landscapes so others can later experience it, it can come at a cost.

Because of the increased popularity of the swing, traffic to the area has been at an all-time high, eroding that portion of the fragile coast, thus “creating an impact on the environment that will never be recovered,” Fake says. 

Preserving the Coast Walk Trail

Fake and the community volunteers with the Friends of Coast Walk Trail work hard to keep the area maintained and safe, but the damage that’s being done counteracts their efforts.

Nevertheless, they are dedicated to preserving the trail, inviting locals and visitors to enjoy the outdoors, appreciate the trail, and admire the beautiful La Jolla landscape, all while remembering to stay safe and respectful of the land.

“We need to work as a collective community to provide safety not only for the public but for the environment,” Fake said, hoping that people really ask themselves what is important here and what is at stake.

Promoting awareness and safety

Visitors to the swing should exercise caution and understand the risks. 

Learn more about the Friends of the Coast Walk Trail and support their efforts here.

Picture of Valorie Hirsch

Valorie Hirsch

Valorie Hirsch is a Content Manager and writer at lajolla.ca, helping readers discover the best of La Jolla, from things to do, dining, events, and more, so visitors and locals can have the best experience and stay connected. A San Diego native, you can usually find her enjoying live music shows, hiking local trails, tackling the world's most difficult reads, or catching up with her favorite Instagram cat celebrities.
Picture of Valorie Hirsch

Valorie Hirsch

Valorie Hirsch is a Content Manager and writer at lajolla.ca, helping readers discover the best of La Jolla, from things to do, dining, events, and more, so visitors and locals can have the best experience and stay connected. A San Diego native, you can usually find her enjoying live music shows, hiking local trails, tackling the world's most difficult reads, or catching up with her favorite Instagram cat celebrities.

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