Explore the most popular birding 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.

Fun hike on mostly paved road. Water was nice to swim in at the cove. Great scenery and solitude.

hiking
15 days ago

I really enjoyed this trail. Awesome, commanding ocean views for the majority of the trail. I could see other islands in the distance and the mountain peaks of the island I was on. The cove was cool, too; I went at low tide and was able to do a little tide pooling. I saw jellies, snails, hermit crabs, anemones, fiddler crabs in the water and tons of lizards and grey foxes on land. Steep hike (definitely got a good glute workout and my knees didn't like me at the end) but a very enjoyable, scenic hike...would do again if I had the opportunity.

For an easier climb start at Campsite 22 and come back down the other side. Make sure you take water as there is no shade.

1 month ago

Had the cove to myself. Did some off-trail hiking near the cove, a dry riverbed. Great solitude, sweeping vistas. Fox followed me much of the way back.

great hike. we camped out over the week and plan to set out to east point via torrey pines. we did not make it. It was seasonably hot on july 7. We all packed 3L and a 32 oz bottle of water. we fan out at the end of the torrey pine trail and was just a little past half way. We turned back because we ran out of water. The view from top the trail on the bench is amazing and breath taking.

hiking
1 month ago

This is a beautiful hike with great views along the coast. I saw an island scrub jay and island fox, too. Easy hike and something that a family could do.

Some revegetation going on later in the trail. Beautiful panoramic views of the shore and sea.

hiking
1 month ago

Not a difficult hike, but it can get pretty warm in the direct sun. Great views along the trail until you make your way down towards the boat launch area. Good quick hike to do if you are only on the island for the day.

hiking
2 months 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
3 months 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
3 months 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
3 months 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

Great trail, beautiful views and lots of interesting plants in the spring

hiking
3 months 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.

This is a decent hike in a scenic area. I would give it a 3.5 stars. If you are just wanting to see the famous scrub-jay as advertised in the NPS trail brochure, you do not need to do the entire loop. Start at either campground and travel counterclockwise. Within a few minutes after the group campground, you'll be in the canyon where the scrub-jay is frequently seen. There is very little elevation gain until after you leave the canyon.

The actual hike itself is not easy and the elevation gain is gradual if traveling clockwise. Our group seen numerous caterpillars, an island foxes (primarily in the campground), scrub-jay, and we heard beautiful music from unknown type(s) of songbird(s).

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
4 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.

My parents, who are 66, accompanied my husband and I on this hike. My father charged on ahead with reconstructed /prosthetic ankle. It was definitely a continual elevation gain for the first half of the hike. The scenery was mostly grassland. I’d love to see it in the spring with wildflowers blooming.

Great hike. Complete solitude. Exposed ridges were, very windy. I repeat. Very windy. Recommend trekking poles to help anchor or provide added stability against strong wind gusts.Have your camera ready, the views are breathtaking. We combined with trip to Smugglers cove. All day hike. One of my favorites.

hiking
10 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.

11 months ago

Did a variation of this
Went to High Mount only
Also combined with Scorpion Loop Trail

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.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

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
Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hiking through the remnants of a Pleistocene forest is in and of itself pretty cool. Add in a beautiful and mostly deserted island and this is a hike to get done. You have to do a lot of work to hike here. At minimum catch the charter boat out of Ventura to do this as a quick day hike. If you can afford the time, camp for a few days and better explore the island. While the map shows this hike as a quick mile and a half loop... it is about three miles from the pier to the trail head... so plan on at least 7 miles.

hiking
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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.

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