Explore the most popular trail running 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
2 days 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
9 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.

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.

hiking
2 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
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

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.

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!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

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

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.

paddle sports
Monday, January 18, 2016

We originally wanted to kayak to potato harbor but due to winds it did not got as planned. Never the less an amazing trip. Everyone had a lot of fun and was even able to do some snorkeling out of scorpion bay

Took the 4 mile round trip guided hike from Prisoners Harbor. Didn't think I could make it all the way, in fact more than half of the group turned back but when I saw Pelican Bay Up ahead, all I wanted was to rest my sore feet in some cool clear ocean water! Stunning views, learned a lot of how truly unique this habitat actually is.

I visited the Channel Islands in mid Feb of 2015. Decided to go to Santa Cruz and land at Prisoners so I could do the Pelican Bay Trail. The trail was only 4.5 miles, not 6 as the site suggest, but the difficulty was moderate/strenuous.

The hike itself was absolutely beautiful and our tour guide David did an absolute amazing job informing the group about the plants and wildlife. The Pelican Bay hike is inside the Nature Conservancy which requires that this hike be done with a tour guide. Getting to Pelican Bay was definitely worth the hike! We were able to stop to enjoy our lunch that we brought with us and the view.

I would highly recommend this hike. And we will definitely be back to the channel islands for some camping!

hiking
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

We hiked to potato harbor, though we did not use this exact trail because the first part of it runs through the valley which is very hot in July. We took the steep trail up the wells at the far end of the lower campground up to Cavern Point and hiked the islands coastline out to potato harbor from there. It was a bit further...maybe 6 miles or so, but worth it. Beautiful views & cool breezes.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Not very difficult. It has beautiful botanicals and rock formations. Ends with a breezey beach. Not a loop. Best on the island in my opinion.

nature trips
Sunday, September 29, 2013

This is not literally a trail, so I don't know if it counts for anything, but I sailed around the island on a 27' trimaran, coming out of Two Harbors. I managed to touch land at the dock, but the surge made it unsafe to moor there so it was a sailing excursion for us on the boat.

https://youtu.be/bTpDihfFK_E

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