New Torrey pine trees on Coast Walk Trail bear familiar names

Those who traverse the Coast Walk Trail might notice new, young trees along the slope above Goldfish Point: work has begun to replace several Torrey Pines removed a few years ago.

drone view of coast walk trail along the coast of La Jolla

One of these saplings is sponsored by lajolla.ca, the sponsorship part of a program nonprofit Friends of Coast Walk initiated to replace the trees.

About five years ago, the Torrey pine trees along the slope “had not been managed,” said La Jollan Brenda Fake, who established Friends of Coast Walk in 2010 to preserve the trail.

Coast Walk Trail is a path measuring just over a half-mile, running along the bluffs in La Jolla from Goldfish Point and Coast Boulevard east to Coast Walk.

The city of San Diego designated Coast Walk Trail historic in 1990.

The unmanaged trees were “old and tall,” Fake said, towering about 40 to 50 feet high and “tilting in the soil.”

With deep roots, the trees threatened to tear out soil on the bluff.

The Torrey pine tree is North America’s rarest, only growing naturally along this part of the San Diego coast and on Santa Rosa Island off Santa Barbara.

The tree’s deep, entangled roots, if managed properly, can actually be a boon to the slope, Fake said, as the roots’ depth can hold the hillside in place.

“The whole point of putting those trees back in there, while they’re beautiful and they’re endangered … they’re also native and they’ll hold Goldfish Point better than anything we can put out there,” Fake said.

“It’s the perfect answer.”

The unmanaged trees had been removed from Coast Walk Trail a few years ago; Fake obtained a city permit in 2020 to restore them as part of an effort to revegetate the area with native plants.


Friends of Coast Walk then decided to offer locals the opportunity to pay for a tree in exchange for a plaque with their name on it at the tree’s base, the proceeds of which will fund further maintenance projects on the trail.

All trees have been sold, Fake said. “We’re fully saturated over there.”

Friends of Coast Walk will continue to maintain the Torrey pines, trimming them in a few years as needed so the trees do not become an unwieldy threat, Fake said.

Eventually, the new trees will “build a nice canopy there,” she added.

Tim Gonzalez of The Cave Store is “the tree whisperer” taking care of the Torrey pines, Fake said. “He waters and nurtures the trees and he and I work together to keep an eye on them.”

Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.
Picture of Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto

Elisabeth Frausto has been reporting on and writing about La Jolla since 2019. With dozens of local and state journalism awards to her name, Elisabeth knows the industry as well as she knows her community. When she’s not covering all things 92037, you’ll find her with coffee in hand staring at the sea.

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