Trail honors Marvin Gerst’s legacy

The City of San Diego recently installed six signs on the Carmel Valley Restoration and Enhancement Project trails commemorating Marvin Gerst Trail. The popular Carmel Valley trail, which stretches between the eastern edge of the Palacio Del Mar neighborhood on Carmel Country Road to El Camino Real, was newly named in honor of the trail advocate who passed away in 2016.

Marvin Gerst and Scout.
Marvin Gerst and Scout. (Courtesy)

Gerst was a familiar sight on the Carmel Valley and Del Mar Mesa trails for over 25 years and was well known to city staff and decision makers.

Local residents Anne Harvey and Lisa Ross led the effort to get the trail renaming approved by the Carmel Valley and Ocean Air Recreation Councils, the Carmel Valley and Torrey Hills Community Planning Boards and the San Diego City Parks and Recreation Board. The city made and installed the signs for free.

Harvey and Ross shared Gerst’s valuable role in the creation of the CVREP: Carmel Valley was a 4,000-acre master-planned community with a 1975 design that did not include any trails through open space, nor any trail connections to the adjacent emerging regional open space parks, Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve and the San Dieguito River Park.

“The major developers were very reluctant to provide trails, in part because the city did not have any trail standards. Marvin Gerst was the first property owner/developer to convince his fellow property owners to nevertheless include a three-mile trail in their plans,” Harvey and Ross stated in their proposal. “From that wildly successful starting point trail enthusiasts were able to argue, lobby, petition and demonstrate, on foot, on horse and on bike, to achieve the interconnected public trail system that we all enjoy today.”

A runner on Marvin Gerst Trail.
A runner on Marvin Gerst Trail. (Karen Billing)

Over the years, Gerst continued to do his part, serving as the recreation representative on the Del Mar Mesa Community Planning Board, as an early member and later chair of the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve Citizens Advisory Committee, and as a property owners’ representative and a member of the Project Review Committee for the San Dieguito River Park CAC. He passed away in May 2016 after a long fight with Parkinson’s disease.

In addition to the signs, community members have stepped forward to fund a granite boulder with a bronze plaque depicting Gerst and his impressive and beloved spotted horse, Scout. The placement of the new trail monument is still being determined.