El Montanon Trail is a 8.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Ventura, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round.

Length8.5 miElevation gain1,870 ftRoute typeLoop
HikingNature tripsBird watchingViewsWildflowersWildlifeNo dogs
Waypoints (0)
Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (35)
Photos (199)
Recordings (28)
Completed (122)
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Kristy Eslinger
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HikingOver grownRocky
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Sean Denard
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Fishing

I am looking to see if any body would be willing to split a campground for the night of april 17th, the campgrounds are booked up but I was hoping my wife and I could see the sunset on the island for my birthday. we'd be quiet and courteous. If you know anybody with a reservation for that weekend please let me know, thank you.

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Christie Marie
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 8, 2019
HikingNo shade

It was a foggy day, but still had great views. Love all the little foxes in the campgrounds. I went up smugglers and down scorpion and I think the views are better that way.

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Joe Klinker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 9, 2019

Very fun with views worth the climb! I went up Scorpion Canyon and down Smugglers Road. I think you’ll have steeper terrain on Scorpion than you will on Smugglers. Scorpion also is super overgrown with long grass which is fun, but makes it difficult at times to see the path. Recommend long socks as well. AllTrails should also fix the red mapping - it misses the true trail and could be misleading. Follow the black trail and not the red markings in AllTrails. Enjoy sweeping views. Clouds cleared up over Santa Barbara and Anacapa islands around 12 so my views from the top were great. I’m a pretty experienced hiker and finished the hike in 3hr 30min, plenty of time to make my boat back to shore.

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Mathew Fiegleman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 4, 2019
Hiking

I'm a man in his late 20s, physically in shape, not super athletic. Enjoy tough hikes. This one was all include, not insane, but pretty tough. Very Do-able, and probably the best hike you could do on the island. Bring sunscreen. Great 360 views. if you're on this island, make sure you rent a kayak on the mainland. Call ahead. I enjoyed solo kayak more than a group actvity.

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David Reiley
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Hiking

Great Hike up to Montanon Peak. There is a small, but clear trail from the Montanon trail up to the peak. The actual peak is the one just beyond the radio tower. I am not sure what trail this route shows going down, but I took the Scorpion Canyon trail which made for a good loop. I suspect that this route is the same, but the GPS was off showing the trail through an unmarked area.

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Nick Brandis
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HikingNo shadeRocky
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Elizabeth Good
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HikingNo shadeRocky

12/10 recommend. Started at 10:00 AM at Scorpion Anchorage, headed to the Montanan ridge radio tower, ate lunch, and headed down Scorpion Canyon to Cavern Trail and back to the Anchorage. Absolutely beautiful views on the way and at the top, sunny skies, great weather. Bring layers for the boat ride, sunscreen, hat, plenty of water (3L) and a nutritious lunch. Had enough time to walk on the beach for a bit then headed back to shore at 4:30 PM.

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Julia Tang
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Hiking

This hike is awesome on a beautiful day like that one we got. The sky was clear and sunny, there was barely any wind, and the temperature was probably in the 60s, maybe 70s the whole way through. We arrived around 9:40 and finished this hike at about 1:30. I accidentally stopped my GPS in the middle but it was probably around 8 miles round trip. We did an out and back (not the loop listed here) from upper scorpion campground, following the trail to the peak, then back along the same trail. We saw island foxes, wildflowers blooming, and the island scrub jay! This hike is entirely exposed, so definitely bring lots of water and sunscreen, and layers to protect from the wind if you don't have a perfect day like we had. We added a little side trip to cavern point and part of potato harbor for about 10.5mi total in 5.5 hours, with about about 10-15 minutes enjoying the summit views and a half hour pause at the campgrounds for lunch. Trail is pretty obvious, once you get to upper scorpion campground and follow the trail on the left side of the campground. I would highly recommend this if you get out to Santa Cruz Island!

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Ben Halterman
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Hiking

Some nice views of the other side of Santa Cruz island but not as amazing as we expected from a national park.

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Kay Hiker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 29, 2017

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.

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

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Dylan Taylor
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 12, 2017
Hiking

Easily one of the most beautiful hikes Southern California has to offer. Its uniqueness especially contributes to its beauty; hills, canyons, and the Pacific Ocean are all visible throughout numerous portions of the hike. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to go in April after a year of steady rainfall, so there were plentiful wildflowers just off the trail as well. Given that there's a limited amount of people on Santa Cruz island at any given time (due to its isolation), the El Montanon Trail is the perfect place to hike in complete solitude. The time constraints- if not staying overnight, the boat arrives at 11 AM and leaves at 4 PM- many opt to hike to Smuggler's Cove or Potato Harbor, for an 8-mile trek up one of the highest peaks on the island seems daunting. While there are sections that are strenuous, the hike is quite tranquil and easily completed within the time frame. Depending on which route you take, the trail eventually narrows from a fire road through campsites to a narrow, single-track trail that is overgrown with tall grass and wildflowers. After the trail crosses a wide creek (dry during my hike), the 1,900 ft. elevation gain begins. It plateaus temporarily at the junction between Smuggler's Road and El Montanon ridge. As you continue on El Montanon ridge, it's not especially likely that you'll run into crowds of people. The trail up the ridge has endured plentiful rainfall and is therefore washed out and somewhat difficult to follow. However, the rock is stained red (presumably by iron?) so it's impossible to venture too far off the trail. The views begin to become more spectacular as you gain elevation, starting with a quick overlook of the Pacific Ocean, subsequently followed by a view of the other side of the island. High Mount is an easy summit to bag along the way, and the views from the top are nearly as extraordinary as El Montanon's. The other side of the island, along with Prisoner's Cove (if I'm not mistaken) can be seen on a clear day. The trail gets a bit rockier and narrower post High Mount, though the views become more memorable. Both sides of the path offer extraordinary views, with Anacapa Island seen to the left (heading upwards to the mountain) and the other side of Santa Cruz Island seen to the right. I was fortunate enough to witness the phenomenon called "fire clouds," where a rainbow-like color forms in cirrus clouds. Certainly a sight I'll never forget. The true summit of El Montanon is further than the solar panels/building where this AllTrails map has the trail end. The views from the summit are panoramic with nothing (trees, shrubs, etc.) obstructing the spectacular views of the island and ocean. It's definitely worth the journey, regardless of the short timespan you may have to complete it in. Take a lot of water- there aren't many resources on this island.

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Cameron H.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 7, 2017

A strenuous hike, especially if you are hiking from North to South from the Prisoners/Del Norte portion of the island, but well worth it. Beautiful views of Santa Cruz island that offer ocean, rolling hill, canyon, and mountain scenery. Bring plenty of water.

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Ari Krepostman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 2, 2012
Hiking

Hiked this about a year ago. It's a beautiful, easy to follow trail to the top of the mountain. Once you reach the top, you'll feel the other side of the island beckoning. We caved to the siren call of the backcountry , went off trail, and quite enjoyed continuing on the ridge that goes towards Smugglers. If you go this way, be prepared to encounter some steep terrain with a thick layer of loose gravelly stone. We did it without trekking poles and stayed on our feet, no problem. Continue down throgh the gresslands (formerly grazing land) until you get to the road, then follow that down to Smugglers. I can't remember how we found our way down to Smugglers exactly, but the Island isn't huge, there aren't any predatory animals, and if you've got a few hours to kill (as is likely), this is a great way to go off trail without feeling like you're getting lost in the woods.

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Erica Lee
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Matt Sledge
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Hiking
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Frieda McKaughan
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Hiking
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Wendy W Wong
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Hiking
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Vanessa Ng
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Hiking
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Robert Cook
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Hiking
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David Eriksson
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Hiking
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Marca Song
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Hiking
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Mira Reverente
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Hiking
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Bradley Yocum
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Hiking
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Weston Ruths
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Hiking
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Andrew Taylor
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Hiking
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