Explore the most popular camping 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.

Very easy. Great for picture taking and young kids. Nothing to worry about here :)

hiking
22 days ago

Trail is very easy to follow and well paved. Fairly steep at the beginning but ultimately do-able for almost anyone. Very relaxing and fairly empty of visitors. I would recommend this hike as the first you do in Channel Islands.

After lunch near the Visitor's Center, I went to the Scorpion Campgrounds. I tacked on some extra trail when I had been looking for wildlife around the campgrounds. I then went up the Potato Harbor Road then onto North Bluff Trail and Cavern Point Loop Trail. Great Views.
Virtual Treadmill video of this hike can be seen on my YouTube Channel, copy and paste link below to watch it. Thanks.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFO02nxPdM4-CabegFIPlow?view_as=subscriber

hiking
2 months ago

Potato Harbor Trail is an moderate to easy hike and the views are spectacular of the Santa Cruz Island Coast. This hike is well worth doing, best in the spring when everything is blooming and it is not too hot. This day the ride over was a little tough with the swells but not too bad. There is an orientation you should do after getting off the boat, then you can do whatever you had planned. I immediately hit the trail up to the bluff overlooking Scorpion Harbor, then out to Potato Harbor overlook. Bring plenty of water especially if you are hiking inland, hotter away from coast.
Enjoy.

Virtual Treadmill video of this hike can be seen on my YouTube Channel, copy and paste link below to watch it. Thanks.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFO02nxPdM4-CabegFIPlow?view_as=subscriber

Would not suggest this as an out and back because of lack of water. Better to get dropped at prisoners and hike across or even over night at del Norte along the way.

Very beautiful trail that follows the coastline of Santa Cruz Island! Make sure you bring enough water, there is no source for potable water until you get to Scorpion.

A nice, easy hike with gorgeous views the whole way! I was lucky enough to see a peregrine falcon perching on some of the cliffs along the trail. Make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and water because there is nowhere to stop in the shade on this trail.

Rocky terrain with never-ending western sea gulls, pelicans, and another bird species everywhere. There are spots to take amazing photos though! Kayaking, snorkeling, and camping is allowed.

4 months ago

Amazing place. Easy.

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.

hiking
5 months 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
5 months 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.

A group of four of us got a campsite and stayed on the island over-night. The boat ride in was phenomenal, make sure to get your tickets early and follow their strict guidelines (water and gas to be boarded separately). The boat ride takes an hour with tons of scenery. The island is like something prehistoric. You dock in a cove teeming with life. You'll have to walk up about five or six flights of steep stairs, overall it's a half mile to the campsites so you can bring a small cooler. There is no fresh water on the island, so expect to carry. We had about six gallons total for an overnight so that we had plenty to cook and clean with. There were, and this is no exagerrtion, seagulls everywhere. As well as their baby chicks. They were highly aggressive, swooping in and dive bombing you. You also had to keep eyes on the trail for sleeping chicks. But mostly, they're a nuisance but not violent (kind of like what I'm sure they thought of us). The campsites are incredibly small, with the exception of two. 6 and 7 can barely fit four people, so I recommend getting your own per couple, and they are first come first serve. A downside is the campsites being so close, a party of around twelve were able to, essentially, glamp as they could bring all of their "equipment" with them. They somewhat ruined the isolationist feeling by staying up til midnight, drinking, and playing music from a speaker. I recommend ear plugs to sleep with due to the gulls, who will stay loud through the night. But the views are absolutely stunning. It is a wild and savage experience that feels like you're part of a documentary crew for Planet Earth, or something. Once the boat leaves, taking the day hikers with it, you are essentially alone. You can swim, although the water is brisk and frigid, but the snorkeling is intensely raw and amazing. The only place, the cove from which you docked, has a kelp forest teeming with life. Just be on the lookout, there were all types of fish, but as we were leaving a sting ray swooped into the cove. Just be aware. There are sharks around the island, but they're not known to venture inside, however you will see your share of sea lions. This was one of our favorite parts of the trek. You can bring kayaks, something which I wish we would have done, as there are even better places to observe sea life on the southern tip. The boat comes back the next day around 11 am, and doesn't leave (with you) until 3:45, so bring enough food for two days. I do not recommend doing this trip for more than one day, unless you have some extensive sea-activities planned. Overall, a wild experience that was very immersive that I will not soon forget.

hiking
5 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
6 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.

Beautiful views

walking
7 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.

hiking
7 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.

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.

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
Saturday, August 26, 2017

hiking
Sunday, August 20, 2017

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

on Potato Harbor Trail

Saturday, July 15, 2017

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.

hiking
Saturday, June 10, 2017

Day Trip to Anacapa Island on Island Packers. 4 hours on the island hiking the main trail. Seagulls and their chicks were everyone on the island as it was nesting season for the seagulls. Trying to protect their chicks, walking on the trails made us targets for the seagulls. It was hard to enjoy the hike due to the huge amount of seagulls. Their poop was everywhere and because of this, there wasn't very many places to sit down without sitting in bird poop. 5 hours here today was definitely too much time as all the seagulls made it hard to enjoy

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!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

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

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