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Torrey Pines Grove, Coastal Rail Trail

As the community of what is now Solana Beach grew, attention was given to civic beautification. The Solana Beach Women’s Civic Club, founded in 1953 and predecessor to the Civic & Historical Society, had succeeded by 1971 in having unsightly billboards removed from along Highway 101 through town. In 1973, the club obtained lease of the Western section of the railroad right-of-way and planted 450 Torrey and Aleppo pines, hand watering them with the help of the Boy Scouts until funds were raised for in-ground irrigation. The Club also spurred creation of a walking/running trail, which grew in popularity — as did the trees — for the next 26 years.

In 1999 the North County Transit District, operator of the “Coaster” commuter train, and the City of Solana Beach completed a $25-million project to lower the train tracks below grade level under Lomas Santa Fe Drive. The “big dig,” as it became known, required building temporary “shoefly” railroad tracks through the by then very popular, pine-shaded walking path along Highway 101. Members of the Civic and Historical Society — successor to the Women’s Civic Club — again rallied, with the City, to support an “Adopt a Tree” program. After a a shaky start, the effort ultimately resulted in the relocation and replanting of 361 trees to residential gardens and commercial landscapes.  Fifteen trees were saved and, in 1997, eight were boxed and stored along Hwy. 101 for replanting after the “big dig” was completed.  

In 2002, the Society raised funds to finally replant the eight boxed trees, creating the Torrey Grove near the northern border of the City.  Later in the decade, the Society (and many of its members) donated funds to preserve the open space from commercial development, with a capstone donation coming from the Harbaugh Family Trust. In February 2020, the shady Torrey Grove and Coastal Rail Trail were officially linked with Harbaugh Seaside Trails, merging with the expanding San Elijo Lagoon trail system and northward into Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Encinitas.