Sunny Jim Cave, La Jolla, CA

La Jolla Coast Walk

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La Jolla Bay, San Diego, CA
Panorama of La Jolla Bay
Sea lions, La Jolla Bay, San Diego, CA
Sea lions on the rocks below the trails

La Jolla Coast Walk

  • Location: La Jolla. From the north, take the La Jolla Village Drive exit. Turn right and follow La Jolla Village Drive 0.7 miles to Torrey Pines Road. Turn left and follow Torrey Pines Road 1.7 miles. Merge right to stay on Torrey Pines Road and follow it another 0.9 miles. Turn right onto Coast Walk, a small cul-de-sac with limited parking. If you are unable to park there, continue along Torrey Pines Road to Prospect St. Turn right and follow Prospect St. to Cave St., where there is additional parking. From downtown San Diego, take the La Jolla Parkway Exit from I-5. Follow La Jolla Parkway for 1.1 miles, where it merges into Torrey Pines Road and continue 0.9 miles to Coast Walk. If you are unable to find parking there, continue to Prospect St. and Cave St. as described above.
  • Agency: San Diego County Beaches (phone: 619/221-8824)
  • Distance: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 100 feet
  • Suggested time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Best season:  All year
  • USGS topo map: La Jolla
  • Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield San Diego County
  • More information:  Trip descriptions here and here
  • Rating: 5
Coast Walk, La Jolla, CA
0:00 – Start of the hike, Coast Walk cul-de-sac (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

This is one of San Diego’s most scenic short hikes, offering great views not only of La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Bay but also of the area’s characteristic marine geology, notably the sea caves. Don’t expect much in the way of solitude; this trail’s location and the eye candy it provides with no physical exertion required make it understandably popular.

Footbridge, Coast Walk Trail, La Jolla, CA
0:03 – Crossing the footbridge (times are approximate)

There are several access points: the western end (as described here), the middle and the eastern end. Parking is limited at the western end, on the cul-de-sac called Coast Walk, but assuming you can snag a spot, begin the hike by walking downhill toward a view point, where you’ll pick up the signed Historic Coast Walk Trail. Follow the trail along the bluffs, crossing over a small canyon on an attractive wooden footbridge. Keep an eye and ear out for sea lions lounging on the rocks below.

After 0.3 miles, a staircase leads down to a fenced-in deck above the ocean, with some nice up-close views. Continuing onto the trail’s end on Cave St., you can turn right and head downhill for more views, including Sunny Jim Cave which was given its name, according to Hidden San Diego, by L. Frank Baum (“Wizard of Oz”) of all people. Speaking of names, if you’re coming from out of town, note that “Jolla” is pronounced “Hoya.”

La Jolla Bay, San Diego, CA
0:10 – View from the wooden deck

Text and photography copyright 2015 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities.  By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail.  Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

Sunny Jim Cave, La Jolla, CA
0:15 – Sunny Jim Cave as seen from Cave St at the trail’s eastern end

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