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Historic hiking trail at La Jolla Cove to reopen

Work begins on Princess Street trail
Princess St Trail.png
Posted at 10:36 AM, Jun 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-13 14:06:35-04

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGT) - An historic hiking trail in La Jolla will reopen after a 30-year battle with homeowners.

The Princess Street trail goes from the top of the cliff at Princess Street to the water near La Jolla Shores. For years, access to the path had been closed because of a dispute over who owned the land leading to the trail.

A homeowner claimed it was on their property and put up a gate blocking access to the trail. Over the years, brush and vegetation had overgrown the trail, making it impossible to hike on.

In 2012, the Coastal Commission ruled that the gate was on public land and must be reopened.

Now, the Environmental Center of San Diego is overseeing the revitalization and eventual reopening of the trail.

"Access to the coast is the one public right that we can hold," says Pam Heatherington with the Environmental Center. "We want to get kids out into the natural world. If this is a small part of that, we're up for it."

People who live along Princess Street are split on their feelings about the trail. Melinda Merryweather says she remembers using it in the 1960s and wants her grandkids to enjoy it as well. She's been fighting for it to reopen for 23 years.

"It was a terrible injustice," she says of the gate that blocked access. "It's just so heart-filling to now see this as a reality."

"I've been on record that I don't like it," says Dave Reynolds. He and his family have lived in a house next to the trail for four generations. He thinks reopening it will bring a litany of problems to the neighborhood.

"Safety, possible illegal activity, increased traffic, trash," he says of the issues he foresees. "But it is what it is. We're not happy about it, but there's nothing we can do about it."

Supporters say it won't draw crowds, as it goes to an area only popular with divers and local surfers. They say people who want a traditional beach experience will still go to La Jolla Shores nearby.

They also say having the trail will allow for easier rescues when people get trapped by the rising tides along the cove.

The Environmental Center is now using a $38,000 grant to clear the brush on the trail to within 6 inches of the ground. That will allow for a topographical survey, then a design team will create a new path down to the coast.

After that, they hope to have the new trail built and open by the end of 2020.