January 23, 2019

Revitalizing the California Coastwalk



Revitalizing the California Coastwalk

From left, Jocelyn “Jo” Enevoldsen and Morgan “Mo” Visalli on the California Coastal Trail. They will hike what they are calling the “MoJo Coastwalk” this summer and invite local folks to join them at Topanga State Beach on the morning of Saturday, July 23, and trek with them the nine miles to the Venice Pier. The California Coastal Trail, which, once completed, will run the entire length of California’s 1,200-mile coastline.

The dream began—as so many good things did—in 1972, when California passed Proposition 20, recommending that a trails system be established along or near the coast from Oregon to the Mexican border.

The logic behind this epic project is eloquently expressed by the mission statement of the California Coastal Trail, which asserts that a coastwalk in California will result in “A well-stewarded California coast, highly prized as an irreplaceable commons, open to all.”

The reality? We’re about two-thirds of the way there.

The project has gained new momentum thanks to Third District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who informed her constituents in her weekly newsletter, “Kuehl ­Happenings,” that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors “adopted a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Don Knabe to strengthen the County’s support, involvement, and promotion of the California Coastal Trail, which, once completed, will run the entire length of California’s 1,200-mile coastline.

“Given that Los Angeles County will ultimately be home to nearly 100 miles of the trail, it just made sense to expand awareness of the trail, promote tourism and economic development along the trail’s length, cooperatively plan future segments of the trail and work collaboratively with other local governments to ensure that the trail is well planned and intelligently implemented.”

Partnerships with Caltrans, California State Parks and The Coastal Commission have gotten us this far, but as Kuehl points out, getting support from all 15 counties through which the trail crosses will be critical to its completion.

In Los Angeles County, the Venice Boardwalk runs 22 miles from Will Rogers State Beach to Torrance Beach. That’s only part of the 100 miles of coastline in our county.

Some of our beaches, though technically legal to walk on, form the frontage of private homes and are managed as private property. Untangling who gets to walk along key sections in Malibu and how will be an interesting process to observe.

While anyone can walk any of the completed trails at any time, the California Coastwalk has created a series of public group hikes.

These group hikes are designed for a few days with a group learning more about our coast at any one of half a dozen stunning venues.

What’s charming is that the state has a website that lets you click on segments of interest to get maps for three- to four-mile sections, which makes this epic endeavor approachable … for anyone.

There are also adjacent links to help you find camping opportunities and books, maps and guides online. (To see what’s available this year, check out http://coastwalk.org/2016-coastwalk-schedule/.)

While the first person to do the California Coastwalk was surely a Native American (maybe even Siberian), the first person to write about it was Englishman J. Smeaton Chase (1864-1923), who did the whole thing three times on horseback and wrote “California Coast Trails: A Horseback Ride from Mexico to Oregon in 1911,” now available as a paperback or an e-book to fulfill your inner historian’s daydreams. Order this and other Smeaton Chase books at amazon.com.


There’s a list of those who have done the whole enchilada (californiacoastaltrail.info/cms/pages/hikers/whole_coast.html) but the next people to be listed are bound to be two young women, former Wetlands Recovery Project Fellow Jocelyn Enevoldsen, and fellow biologist Morgan Visalli (thus “MoJo”).

Mo and Jo are doing the MoJo Coastwalk this summer and they will be at Topanga State Beach on the morning of Saturday, July 23, where they will then trek down—for nine miles—to Venice Pier. Apparently, mile 1000 is shortly before the Venice Pier, and thus cause for celebration.

The young coastwalkers are inviting local folk to join them for this portion of their walk and can be reached at ­­mojocoastwalk@gmail.com.

“We are very excited to be mentioned alongside Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, whose work we have been following and admiring!” said Enevoldsen. “We are really looking forward to hiking through L.A. County.”­­