hiking

views

birding

nature trips

walking

wildlife

beach

wild flowers

trail running

no dogs

cave

Five of the eight Channel Islands are protected, and half of the park's area is underwater. They are home to over 2,000 species of land plants and animals, and 145 are unique to the islands. The islands were originally settled by the Chumash people, and there is a unique Mediterranean ecosystem.

This shorter trail is a staple and must do for Santa Cruz.

We went in early February both for the wild flowers and to catch the tail end of the season when whales pass the island. Of which we saw both :)

There was maybe 6 other people on the trail, two of which were rangers.

We did the loop in the direction from the lower campgrounds towards the cove. The beginning and end have a shorter rocky incline, but it's not that bad. It then follows along the coast to give you lovely vistas. It was so green when we went and cloudy that it reminded me of Ireland! Downside was parts of the trail were very muddy.

While end route not only did we see a whale and wild flowers, but we also saw a lot of caterpillars, island foxes, and crows. I am guessing soon there would be equally as many butterflies. We also saw that special bluebird, whose name escapes me now.

As an aside, the warnings you get on the island about the crows and foxes are legit. They are quick and very smart. We watched a fox almost immediately unzip and try to break into the a rangers backpack he'd set down about 10 yards away. Also when we got back to our packs on the cove (which we tarped per their directions), we saw obvious animal footprints all over as well as zippers moved in attempts to get in.

Hiking poles would help as well as (depending on when you go) boots you don't mind getting very muddy.

This trail was wonderful. I loved it more than I expected!

This was a very nice trail that offered a lesser frequented loop into the inner portion of Santa Cruz Island.

We did this hike in early February. We saw one other couple.

We took the loop heading out from the ranch and towards the cove. Both the beginning and towards the end have a bit of a sustained incline, but I think the views in this direction make for a more special trip.

The trail goes up towards the edge of a cliff before heading back inland. There is little shade, so make sure you bring something to mitigate the sun.

There is some old farming equipment you can visit on a mini detour that's worth a trip.

On the hike we saw island foxes, crows, and lovely wild flowers.

When we were there the trail was very muddy in portions. Also there were very rocky downhill segments to navigate. Hiking poles and (depending on when you go) boots you don't mind getting very muddy would help.

Overall a very nice hike and experience.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

Terrific hike. I'm wasn't so much a fan of the actual cove as I was the hike there, which consisted of beautiful rolling green hills, several Santa Cruz Island endemic species of animals and flowers, and incredible views of Mount Montañon.

A strenuous hike, especially if you are hiking from North to South from the Prisoners/Del Norte portion of the island, but well worth it. Beautiful views of Santa Cruz island that offer ocean, rolling hill, canyon, and mountain scenery. Bring plenty of water.

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Nice loop to see the interior of Santa Cruz Island, with nice views of Anacapa and across the Santa Barbara Channel. Best for a naturalist who is interested in seeing the unique species of plants and animals on the Channel Islands. Saw a couple of island foxes and a bald eagle. Can be done in either direction. One section is a steep and rocky (uphill when going counterclockwise, downhill clockwise) for those unsure of footing.

Not much of a hike, but it's a truly beautiful view!

hiking
3 months ago

Incredible wildlife! The trail is a bit washed out, but that's just the nature of the beast. Smugglers Cove is full of life. We explored the tide pools filled with bright purple urchins, little crustaceans, and magnificent looking shells. The ocean leaves its mark on the sand and it's simply stunning. The hike was pretty strenuous due to the humidity. We quite literally hiked through a cloud. We chose the day hike option and we're able to complete the out and back with well over 2 hours to spare. We saw multiple island foxes and they seriously are living, breathing stuffed animals. It's truly a magical experience! Next time, we'll definitely be staying over night and kayaking. Those caves beg to be explored!

Hiked in on a Friday, with temperatures in the low 90's, and hiked backed out on Sunday, walking in the clouds as the weather dipped in the low 70's. At the time of this review there was no water other than at Clap Springs which is detour off Wreck Road by a couple of miles. Bring plenty of water