Explore the most popular wildlife 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.

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
17 days 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
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.

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.

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.

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 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
9 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

10 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.

hiking
11 months ago

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!

Friday, March 24, 2017

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
Friday, December 30, 2016

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.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

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

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

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, 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.

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