On Catalina Island, All Trails Lead to Fun – Part 1

On Catalina Island, All Trails Lead to Fun – Part 1

When it comes to outdoor recreation, Catalina Island fills the bill. And as for hiking, Catalina can’t be beat. No other Channel Island features the diversity that Catalina has to offer. More than 200 miles of trails beckon both the tennis shoe hiker and the experienced trekker. An assortment of loop trails give day hikers a great glimpse at a variety of Island locales, returning them to where they started. Of course, the grand daddy of them all is the Trans-Catalina Trail, a 37.2 mile trail that traverses the entire Island.

Marc Munch Trans Catalina trail Video; Kevin and TinaThe eastern most trail head on the Trans-Catalina Trail is the Renton Mine Trail that begins east of the town of Avalon. Once up on the Divide Road, hikers have a bald eagle’s eye view of both sides of the Island. Continuing on past the Haypress Recreation Area, hikers are treated to sweeping views of Middle Canyon and Cape Canyon before reaching the beautiful Black Jack Campground.

From Black Jack Campground, the trail leads hikers through Cottonwood Canyon to the Airport in the Sky, where refreshments and supplies can be enjoyed at the DC3 Gifts & Grill before the downhill trek down Sheep Chute Canyon to the Little Harbor Campground, overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the windward side of the Island.

The Trans-Catalina Trail continues north to the colorful boating community of Two Harbors at the Island’s Isthmus. There, hikers can take advantage of the campgrounds at Two Harbors, or even splurge on a hot meal at the restaurant, or pick up more supplies at the general store.

The trail continues west through the heart of the West End, where hikers can enjoy the magnificent solitude that this part of the Island evokes. Trail’s end is at remote Starlight Beach.


Airport Loop Trail
2.3 miles
Trailhead: Junction of the Airport Road and El Rancho Escondido Road adjacent to the Airport in the Sky.

What you’ll see: This is a nice easy loop trail for people who visit the airport. As its name implies, it loops around the perimeter of the airport, past the ponds on the north side of the airport and the Soapstone Quarry. There are great views of Mt. Orizaba above, and Cottonwood Canyon below.

How to get there: Take the Conservancy’s Wildlands Express shuttle bus, reservations are required, from the Plaza in Avalon.

Little Harbor to Isthmus Stretch of the Trans-Catalina Trail
4.5 miles

Trailhead: Isthmus or Little Harbor

What you’ll see: Two of the Island’s most exotic locals, Little Harbor and its twin, Shark Harbor, home of some of the best surfing on the Island, along with the Isthmus and the quiet community of Two Harbors, complete with a restaurant, general store, indoor restrooms and hot showers.

How to get there: From the Airport in the Sky take the Safari Bus, reservations required, to either Little Harbor or Two Harbors.

Goat Whiskers Trail West End
1.2 miles

Trailhead: Lions Head on West End Road

What you’ll see: Sweeping views of the San Pedro Channel and the mainland in the distance. Another nice view is down into Cherry Cove.

How to get there: From Two Harbors, hike the West End Road to Lion Head and follow the signs.

Parsons Beach Trail West End
.5 miles

Trailhead: West End Road above Parsons’ Beach

What you’ll see: Views of Parsons’ Beach below and San Pedro Channel in the distance.

How to get there: From Two Harbors, hike the West End Road to Parsons’ Beach.

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Be sure to read Policies and Island Cautions before embarking on your adventure.

Part 2 will have more information about hiking on Catalina Island!

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