La Jolla’s Troll Bridges
Bridge 1:1501-1503 Kearsarge Rd. La Jolla, CA 92037 // 32.844028, -117.265141
Bridge 2: 1818-1800 Puente Dr. La Jolla, CA 92037 // 32.845510, -117.259716
Dog-Friendly: Yes Kid-Friendly: Yes
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Holding some of the most beautiful (and expensive) homes in San Diego, Mount Soledad is like a magical, mythical world of it’s own. The windy roads, endless coastal views and thick jungle-esque plants suggests there are more secrets lurking beneath the veil than meets the eye.
If you were like many others in the 90’s and beyond, you may have spent countless hours in search of the legendary munchkin homes. That story ended up being a great disappointment for many of us! You mean the cast from the Wizard of Oz didn’t live in tiny homes on this mountain?! I’m still holding out that maybe they did and the history has now become buried.
Building on the rumors of the munchkin home would be the occasional child who swore they spotted a “little person” or a gnome. I remember a co-worker swearing his uncle was chased off a munchkin’s property with a bat! Although, the mountain that children’s book author Dr. Seuss called home, I would imagine anything is possible! Maybe the Lorax and the Grinch were inspired by “sightings” on these legendary roads!
As a teenager I used to follow online chat groups discussing the munchkin homes and noticed many users would talk about the “troll bridges” you had to drive under in order to find them. Unlike the munchkin home myth, these bridges DO exist, although I highly doubt you’ll find any trolls living beneath them!
The bridges were built in the late 1920’s and 30’s by developer William French Ludington, who also happens to be the son of a pioneering La Jolla family. William was the owner of of Ludington Heights & had a hand in the developing of the Cabrillo bridge in Balboa Park. It appears these trolls bridges most likely were inspired by the Cabrillo Bridge, which was built a decade earlier. The arch designs share a striking resemblance to the Cabrillo Bridge but on a much smaller scale.
As the story goes, Ludington initially purchased a plot of steep, hard-to-reach land and as a way to make it easier to access, had these stone bridges built. The ocean views made it all the more enticing. Early resident Marguerite R. Ames reminisces on them saying “the street was made of cobblestones, and as a little girl, I could hear the milk wagon go clopping by in the morning.”
Another notable feature of these bridges are the lush landscapes surrounding them. This is not by chance. In fact, the bridge off of Castellana/Puente drive has a garden planted in honor of local residents Delbert and Lois Colby, who owned the Rancho Santa Fe Nursery.
Personal Experience: These bridges are a great way to become better acquainted with Mt. Soledad, as you will have to drive around the winding roads in order to find them! The homes and views are stunning and this is definitely a unique slice of the city!
Bridge under Puente drive: