Trans-Catalina Trail is a 16.7 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Avalon, CA that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as difficult offers a number of activity options.
As others have mentioned in previous reviews, the Trans Catalina Trail is 37.2 miles according to the conservancy. Though, I would say we hiked about 50 miles total on this trip.
5 days to complete
Day 1: Hiked to Blackjack campground
Day 2: Blackjack to Airport in the Sky to get a buffalo burger and stock up on water. Continued hiking to Little Harbors. *Stay at campground #12, the best! Closest to water
Day 3: Little Harbors to Two Harbors (only passed through this city to recharge, ate at the restaurant, had
drank buffalo milk, and replenished our bladders) Hiked to Parsons Landing. *If you think day 1
was hard, wait for this 6mile hike.. up and down, bring trekking poles if possible).
Day 4: Camped at Parsons Landing in campground #1, the best one since you're secluded from the
others. Hiked at Starlight Beach and back, enjoyed a fire and a dip in the ocean. 2 nights here
Day 5: Hiked to two harbors, taking the trail hugging the ocean, easier. From Two harbors we took a
safari bus to Avalon, which was nice to see where we've been). From Avalon took the boat out.
I had to give this 5 stars Even though I wanted to give it 3 HAHA!!! I Backpacked this trail in four days!
Avalon to Blackjack... Blackjack to Two Harbors... Two Harbors To Parsons Landing... Parsons Landing Back To Two Harbors.
First things first at least the mistakes and mishaps I made.
-BRING TREKKING POLES!!!! please just trust me on this one. I will never go anywhere with out them now because of this trip!! HAHA
-We did not realize that Avalon to blackjack would be about 17.5 miles.not including walking around avalon to check into the campsites... Almost everyone we talked to that had completed the TCT include the shortcut near the golf course that takes about 6 or 7 miles off the first day so PLEASE BE READY FOR AN INSANE FIRST DAY if you start from mile 1!!!!It was a lot with full packs
-On the First Day We ran out of water and luckily found water at a little playground near the reservoir not AT the reservoir. It really saved us but we wasted about 30 min looking for a spout at the viewing area and around the reservoir.
-Make sure to have a map and a compass we where pushed off trail a couple times because of an "Occupy TCT" by the bison and having basic compass and map skills really came in handy.
Day1 Avalon TO BJ
-Toilets Smell... But are better than packing out waste!!!
Day 2 BJ to TH
-Get lunch at the airport!!! Great pick me up!
-Wished we had stayed an extra day at Little Harbor
-AMAZING VIEWS probably the best of the trip
Day 3 TH to Parsons
-We Did not add the extra 9 miles RT to Starlight due to injury =( but Parsons is worth it so =)
-Big inclines bring trekking poles
-Big Declines BRING TREKKING POLES
-Amazing ridgeline views
-Fenceline trail is Crazy
-Parsons is So Beautiful
- Take the coastline trail back towards emerald bay boy scout camp
-So Much Easier than Fenceline Trail and awesome coves and harbors
Wow! Beautiful, challenging-BISON!!! This trail is forever etched in my brain.
First and foremost this trail is listed at 37.2 miles, not 16. I would describe this trail as between difficult and moderate depending on the shape your in and time of year your hiking it. That being said, this trail is awesome. The views and camp sites are hard to beat here in SoCal. Me and my friend did the trail in 4 days in April. What makes the trail so hard is there are next to zero switchbacks, and the elevation gain and loss is pretty gnarly. I wouldn't recommend doing this trail in the summer because there's almost no shade either. I plan to do this trail at least once a year because it's so cool.
Gorgeous views. Felt safe by myself as I wasn't too far away at any point from the "civil world". No phone connection so couldn't make a recording. Saw a huge deer and some birds. Nice variation in the path. Loved it.
This was an amazing hike and backpacking trip I started out in Avalon and hiked to two harbors in three days there's plenty of water along the trail and the campsites are very well-maintained and beautiful! While on the trail I saw deer, bison, Fox and many different birds.
I backpacked this in 4 days.
Day 1: Avalon to Blackjack
Day 2: Blackjack to LIttle Harbor
Day 3: Little Harbor to Parson's Landing
Day 4: Parson's Landing to Starlight Beach and back
Day 5: Parson's to Two Harbors
It was amazing!
Gorgeous dry perfect views
a very beautiful trail! my wife and I did this trail over Christmas break and had a great time. I really wish that the trail had some switch backs because going STRIGHT up and down the ridges was a bit much. Overall I had a great time, but I will be taking the main roads next time
Not recommended by the faint hearted. A great deal of road at the beginning. Amazing views and scary huge buffalo that will walk up to you so be careful when you stop for lunch. Another amazing adventure with my husband Tom. Hat off to the Catalina Conservancy that booked our campsites through. Sheriff was awesome, professional and courteous. We were taken aback by a rave that consumed one of the campsites not what we expected when your through hiking. A must do. Make sure you take extra water. Give the buffalo a very wide birth.
I did the most extensive hike in 1980. I hiked from Avalon to Blackjack, and camped there. The next day I hiked to Little Harbor, spent that day there and camped. A caravan of Model Ts showed up. I have no idea where they came from or how they got there. The next morning I caught a ride to Two Harbors and caught the boat back to Avalon. It was a tidy little adventure.
My friend and I hiked the leg from Hermit Gulch to Two Harbors, via Blackjack Campground, the airport, and Little Harbor. It was a difficult hike in sections, due to 32 pound pack. The first leg (from Avalon to Blackjack) and the last leg ( from Little Harbor to Two Harbor) was strenuous with pretty serious elevation changes. The last leg was most difficult due to basically zero switchbacks. We had the overcast weather of "June Gloom," which was great. It stripped some of our views but I can't imagine doing it in full sun-it would be brutal. We loved the views, the isolation, the bison run ins, and the company we met at the campgrounds. I loved it and plan to come back soon!
Overall, this was a great experience, but slightly different than I originally thought it was going to be.
- I didn't realize it, but since this is an island, you don't get a lot of the pesky bugs you get on the main land. Sure, there are still bugs, but not a lot. Plus, there are no dangerous animals to worry about like bears or cyotes. There are buffalos here and there, but just give them a wide berth and they'll leave you alone. So basically, it's pretty easy going.
- The changes in scenery are nice; you got from Avalon city, to trees in the hills, then desert in the middle, then semi-forest near Black Jack camp ground.
- Since this is a mountanous island, I had dreams of this trail being at the top of ridges overlooking the ocean, but no, that hardly ever happens on this trail. It's mostly in the middle of the island and thus the views are not that spectacular.
- The heat: Sure, I went in the middle of July, but I thought there would be a constant sea breeze to cool me down. No. The middle of the island is like a desert valley; no breeze and not a lot of trees to rest under at certain spots.
- Sometimes confusing trail: Since the trail weaves through roads that are used for other purposes, you need to make sure to pay close attention to the actual trail. I went the wrong way for a quarter mile at one point, so make sure to keep the map handy.
- Expensive to get there: The main way to get to the island is via $65 round trip boat ride. Plus it's a few more dollars to reserve a camping spot. With most trails being free to drive to, this is a bit pricey.
I know I listed more bad than good, but it was still a great trip. The trail is nice and long, so it was a good challange. If you go during the summer, make sure to bring LOTS of water.