Princess Street Coastal Access Trail

About the Princess Street Coastal Access Trail Project

The Environmental Center of San Diego is the sponsor of a long-awaited public access project at Princess Street in La Jolla. The opportunity to directly experience our beautiful natural resources is an important part of being a San Diegan and a present or future steward of these resources. That is why ECOSD is committed to supporting appropriate public access to our beaches, coastlines, and open spaces. The Princess Street Coastal Access Trail is one way that ECOSD is working to restore and ensure public access to the coast in La Jolla, San Diego.

The trail has been the subject of a 40-yearlong effort by the community and the California Coastal Commission. Until 1979, the Princess Street Coastal Access Trail provided a point of entry to what is now known as the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park and Matlahuayl State Marine Reserve, as well as a critical emergency access point for City of San Diego lifeguards to an otherwise inaccessible portion of the La Jolla coastline due to rocky cliff topography. The trail site is also part of the designated historic “Spindrift Site” that has yielded discoveries of marine invertebrates, shells, and tools dating from 965-1645 AD.

The planned trail at Princess Street will descend 50 feet from the public street at the bluff top to the beach and will be open between sunrise and sunset. The Environmental Center, in partnership with the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, will maintain and monitor the trail and landscaping upon completion.

To learn more about the history of the trail and the community’s efforts, read “The Story of Public Access at Princess Street” by local coastal access advocate Anthony Ciani. Additionallythe La Jolla Light published an article in July 2017 about ECOSD’s offer-to-dedicate and maintain the Princess Street access trail.

Project Phase One

The first phase of the project took place in 2019 and continued into the beginning of 2020. During this time, ECOSD cleared and prepared the site in partnership with Urban Corps, completed a topographical survey of the site, and developed of a master plan design of the site with landscape architecture firm Rana Creek. This work was support by a grant of $38,860 from the California Coastal Conservancy, as well as ECOSD’s discretionary funds and the generous in-kind support of many partners.

Project Phase Two

On September 23, 2021, the California Coastal Conservancy awarded the Environmental Center of San Diego a second grant – totaling $180,860.00 – to support the continued restoration of the historic trail in its second phase. The funding will help cover the cost of necessary site studies, development of the final site design, and permitting of the trail site.

Project Phase Three

The third and final phase of the project will include construction and the public opening of the trail, including the installation of bilingual interpretative signage at the trailhead. 

In addition to state funding, this project relies on the support of generous donors like you. Please consider donating in support of the final phase of the project to make the Princess Street Coastal Access Trail a reality. We can’t wait to walk the trail with you. Thank you!

Project partners and supporters include:

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The opportunity to directly experience our beautiful natural resources is an important part of being a San Diegan and a present or future steward of those resources. That is why the Environmental Center of San Diego is committed to supporting appropriate public environmental programs.

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