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What kind of authentication system do you have in place? Standard Java EE authentication schemes like FORM based which restrict access to URL based resources? Is that a application specific cookie or the standard session id cookie that the containers use, which is causing problems?
When you run into this problem on certain pages, can you enable client side tools in the browser (like Firebug for Firefox and the Developer tools in Chrome) to get the cookies that are set when you visit that page?
@Tomaz Cerar: That ticket describes my problem perfectly. Apparently the bug with setting the default cookie path is intermittent. Setting an explicit cookie path is the real work around apparently and safe even when they fix the code. Thanks.