Explore the most popular beach trails in Channel Islands National Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
6 days ago

The hike wasn't hard at all and you'll get plenty of picture opportunities once you get to the end.

Potato Harbor was amazing at sunset! We were camping in the upper loop and left for Potato Harbor about an hour before sundown. We took the coastal trail instead of the harbor road in both directions, and there was breathtaking scenery throughout! Be sure to stay after sunset to catch the best colors. You can read more about our trip on my blog: https://tellmeabootit.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/santa-cruz-island-channel-islands-national-park/

hiking
1 month ago

Started from the Cavern Point trailhead and added an additional mile of amazing views along the bluffs. Had plenty of time for the trail, a long break at the overlook, and a chance to relax on the beach before the boat returned to the dock.

hiking
1 month ago

On the last day of my three day camping trip with Wilderness Adventures, most people opted for a 2.5 hour kayaking trip to the sea caves around the island. However, I chose to stay on dry land and do a hike to Smuggler’s Cove, a delightful harbor on the back side of the island that got its name from the illegal sea otter trade that took place between 1769 and 1848. It was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done. Just two hours out and an hour and a half back, this hike wove through a cypress grove, named Delphine’s Grove, grassy hills with purple clover, yellow mustard, and white and pink morning glories, Monkey Flower, Lemonade Berry, Santa Cruz Ironwood, and many other native plants on this island. The final mile of the hike was down, down, down to the sea. At the beach, we saw island foxes and lizards darting around, both of which are prevalent throughout the island. The island fox, deer mouse, and island spotted skunk are only found on the Channel Islands – and nowhere else in the world

The descent to the Cove was pretty steep and I wondered as I walked down, how I was going to feel climbing back up it. Well it was well worth it – it was such a beautiful beach and quite a dazzling vantage point in every direction. Climbing back up the hill reminded me of the Hobbit story with its rolling green hills and the light brown-red dirt on the paths. It looked like a fairytale to me.

The hike was just short of eight mikes, roundtrip, but the views from the top, coming back to Scorpion Bay were sensational. It was rejuvenating to see everything from the top of the island. This was a hike that I would like to do again.

Beautiful views

walking
1 month ago

Trail was busy with other daytrippers. Great views. Caterpillars, birds, and some friendly bees. Good hike for kids as it is quite level with minimal elevation gain.

Steep and gravely first miles levels out but steep about 3/4 mile from smugglers cove.

There are picnic tables at the cove

Nice hike can be windy

hiking
1 month ago

This is the prettiest family hike if you are in the Scorpion Beach area. It is an easy hike and the views are spectacular. Definitely worth your time, especially if you area a daytripper and only have time to do one quick hike. Our group seen an island fox in hunting action.

We added the Cavern Point Loop hike for an extra 1 1/2 to 2 miles.

Beautiful short trip. We actually started at our campsite and hiked to Potato Harbor. Once there, we hiked over to Cavern Point and made it a longer loop.

This was my first time on the island and will most likely be back on a 2-3 overnight stay. The camping on the island is fantastic; however, campfires are not allowed.

hiking
2 months ago

We had a lot of fun on Santa Cruz. The hike is steep at the beginning but levels off for most of the hike. We brought sandwiches with us and had lunch at smugglers cove. Beware the ravens and foxes looking for food. To switch it up we came back by the oil well.

This was an easy hike with spectacular views of the coastline. We saw the island foxes, a bush sunflower, lizards, and heard the seals barking as we peered down the steep cliffs of Potato Harbor.

hiking
8 months ago

Bring a ton of water, calculate and then add the 100oz you don't think you need. Beautiful hike and back country beach camping.

Well maintained trail that is easy for kids and adults. The final decent with switchbacks is the only reason for a moderate trail difficulty. Views are stunning and the Island Fox are fun to watch. Take your lunch and enjoy the views at Cavern Point.

This was the first hike I've ever done. Not only did I challenge myself but reaching potato harbor made it totally worth it. I love the California mountains and to have hiked starting from the second camp ground area made my entire trip spectacular! One of the coolest and most memorable things I've done next to walking on a glacier in Alaska ! WOW!!!!! Channel Islands are not to be missed - will definitely go again

hiking
10 months ago

Someone should really try to get the Easy label updated. In no way is this hike easy. I only tracked from the beach back up to the trail head, saving the batteries on all the devices for what was a long day. This section of trail is only three miles round trip. It is occasionally a narrow single track with a drop off on one side, most of the path was easily navigated.

The real difficulty comes in getting to the trail head. From the dock the total hike is 9 miles round trip. 12 from the campground. It is beautiful and well worth the effort. Take lots of water, the return trip is likely to be warm.

on Potato Harbor Trail

11 months ago

We went to Potato Harbor, it was so foggy, we couldn't see the cove below. It was time for a snack, we sat and within 10 minutes, the turquoise water appeared before us. Only to disappear again quickly. It was spectacular. We returned by the north bluffs and down to the Scorpion cove.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Easy and quite trail..

Friday, March 24, 2017

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!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

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.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

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

hiking
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

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!

backpacking
Thursday, October 27, 2016

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

hiking
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

hiking
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fantastic views of stunning cliffs and the great open Pacific Ocean and vast landscapes. Gorgeous at sunset.

hiking
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Amazing coastal views vast open landscapes and sheer cliffs provide you with a sense of how small you are in the universe. Easy small trail. Recommended at sunset for sure

hiking
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

We headed out from camp at 7am. Long, windy, wiinnnnndddy, foggy trail up and over mountains to the other side. It started off cold and crazy windy, but we went down into Lobo Canyon and out to continue onto a route along the rocky coast, so ended up being about a 14 mile hike. Amazingly beautiful Lobo Canyon, and the picnic on a rock cliff , next to crashing waves was great! If you come to Santa Rosa Island, this is the best hike on the island by far.

hiking
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Beautiful and with immediate elevation. Overlook is award winning. Ability to see dolphins, seals, sea lions and more.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

short hike with great island and ocean views.

hiking
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Easy hike that mostly follows the cliff edge with great ocean and island views. Look for the endangered island fox around the campground near the trails beginning. Can be windy.

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