Asilomar Coast Trail Restoration: Current Project Description

In 1990 the Asilomar State Beach Dunes Restoration Project was completed which restored much of the coastal dunes habitat, and established a continous trail along the Asilomar coastline. The Asilomar Coast Trail surface is a mix of compacted decomposed granite and boardwalks that can be accessed from twenty-seven different entrances along Sunset Avenue, where roadside parking is available.

The Sunset Avenue parking is owned by the City of Pacific Grove, and is mostly unpaved but reinforced with packed decomposed granite. ADA parking is available at certain points along the road. This decentralized parking scheme created a need for several accessible, convenient trail entry points for visitors, while allowing for protection of the sensitive dune habitat. The original project accomplished these goals by establishing these twenty-seven entrances to the coast trail by installing split rail fencing to direct people towards the offical, pre-determined entrances.

Thirty-six years later, many sections of the Asilomar Coast Trail are being compromised by coastal erosion, which has necessitated the removal of boardwalk sections. Without the boardwalk, the trail becomes much less delineated, stable, and enjoyable to walk on. As a result, the trail often gets wider as people search for a better surface to walk on. The widening of the coast trail and the trail access points is having a negative effect on native plant communities as there is a tendency to walk “off trail” through the dunes when there is no compacted (and preferable) surface to walk on. The survival of rare and endangered plant species that are often found right next to the trail is being compromised by this type of use.

Widened Trail

Former boardwalk site being widened by trail use.
Current boardwalk section with erosionCurrent boardwalk section, compromised by coastal erosion.

Rather than re-building boardwalks in the same trail alignment, or build long-term fencing along the whole trail, only to be washed away in the next storm cycle, the current project proposes to protect the Asilomar coastal dunes habitat by maintaining the principal of having only a singular, 5-foot wide coastal trail. By building these new trail sections further inland, away from encroaching ocean level rise as well as increased exposure to storm damage, California State Parks at Asilomar State Beach is seeking to restore, preserve, and maintain a high-quality, sustainable coastal dune habitat which the endangered Tidestrom’s Lupine and Menzies’ Wallflower need to survive. The project will result in:
  • The project will impact approximately 0.5 miles of the current Asilomar Coast Trail.
  • Construction of 1,127 linear feet of new, raised boardwalk within new, re-routed trail alignments
  • Construction of 165 linear feet of new decomposed granite trail that is part of the new alignment and will connect to the new, raised boardwalk trail
  • Removal of, and in-kind replacement of 100 linear feet of existing boardwalk trail
  • Installation of two drainage crossings
  • Restoration of 1,220 linear feet of decommissioned trail.

The Asilomar Coast Trail Restoration Project has been reviewed for CEQA compliance and has a Coastal Development Permit from the California Coastal Commission. The project is slated to begin November 6, 2018, and will be constructed by “in-house” California State Parks staff. The projected timeframe for completion is from 6 months to 1 year.                               

For additional information about the Asilomar Coast Trail Restoration Project, please contact Rosie Eisner, Environmental Scientist, Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds: (831) 646-6444 or