Trans-Catalina Trail: From Avalon to Black Jack Camp

HARD 59 reviews

Trans-Catalina Trail: From Avalon to Black Jack Camp is a 16.7 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Avalon, California that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as difficult offers a number of activity options.

DISTANCE
16.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3605 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Point to Point

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

nature trips

beach

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

backpacking
5 days ago

excited to make the Trans Catalina Trail my official first overnight Backpacking trip. I know it will be hot and beautiful!!! Currently, doing it solo.

backpacking
5 months ago

crazy uphills, amazing views and perfect campsites. be careful of buffalo and give them space. keep those pack weights low and glide up those hills ;).

5 months ago

11/21-11/24/17

This was a great hike. It was challenging because it was so hot outside. There is a lot of up-and-down on the trails also. It is a good trial run for you to see how to pack for a multiple day hike. You will learn quickly how important packing light is. You could save some food weight eating at the airport along the way or Two Harbors restaurant, general store, or cafe but it’s expensive. There are non heated outdoor showers and potable water at Black Jack and Little Harbor. Bring after shower flips flops, sharp rocks everywhere. Two Harbors has a general store and heated pay showers. Parsons Landing has no water or showers. If you have a heavy pack or bad knees trekking poles are very helpful. I will be doing this one again when it cools off.

hiking
6 months ago

Challenging but doable with moderate training when competed over 5 days and 4 nights. 3 of the 4 campsites were beach front with spectacular views. The entire trans Catalina trial is almost 40 miles. The 5th day from Parson's Landing back into Two Harbors was flat with breathtaking scenery. Would surely hike it again! ⛺️

9 months ago

Very very hot, with no shade at all and limited water source. No mile markers!! Trail can be hard to follow at times. Started at hermit and stoped at little harbors.

10 months ago

Amazing to camp mostly at beach-side sites after long days of hiking. My wife and I did the entire TCT and the constant vistas were breathtaking! The stop for Bison Burgers at the Catalina airport is WELL worth it. Definitely doing this again!

hiking
10 months ago

Though it was spring and very dry when I visited the scenery was like none I had ever seen. I hiked from the historic Airport and had the feeling like I was the only one there as it is only accessible by conservancy tour shuttle. On another day I hiked at Two Harbors after seeing the Bison thanks to my Conservancy Tour Guide. The Two Harbors side of the Island is more remote and I recommend taking the ferry from the mainland there first if possible which will save you some SS per person for the shuttle. Then if you want to hike from there you can camp at Blackjack Campground several miles away between Two Harbors and Catalina which is more commercial with cruise ships visiting that side of the Island weekly.

hiking
10 months ago

https://www.catalinaconservancy.org/index.php?s=visit&p=hike_the_trans_catalina_trail

For the actual current trail information and permits.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Beautiful scenery (five star worthy). Downside are the sections of really unfun grades with loose/gravelly terrain. Would not attempt this trail without trekking poles. I usually wear trail runners on multi day hikes and found myself wishing I had something with more ankle support on this trail. Would stop by the Catalina Conservancy in Avalon to pickup one of their great maps. I did the Avalon trailhead to Black Jack on day one, Black Jack to Two Harbors day two, Two Harbors to Parsons (set up camp/dropped some gear) to Starlight back to Parsons day three, then walked the West End Road back to Two Harbors (about 8 miles along the island coast) and got the ferry day four.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hard hike...54 miles if you start in Avalon and hike to mile 0 and then hike the whole trail to Starlight and then back to Two Harbors to ride the boat home. Great experience...Get a breakfast burrito at the airport if you can!

backpacking
Sunday, April 23, 2017

Great experience! Camped right up front in Little Harbor for the beach experience and then in Blackjack for a forestry escape. The up and downs in 80 degree weather was a bit of a challenge, but lots of rewarding views!

hiking
Monday, April 03, 2017

This entire trail from Avalon to Starlight Beach was PHENOMENAL! It was hard too so make sure you're conditioned for steep grades both up and down with almost NO switchbacks. The Trans-Catalina is officially 37.2m however there is also the hike to the actual trail head, the hike at the end from Starlight back to your camp and from there to the harbor to catch your ferry back to the mainland. This turned out to be roughly a 55m week for me and I would do it again in a heartbeat

Monday, December 12, 2016

Met some great people on the trail, both locals, hikers and tourists.

backpacking
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

As others have mentioned in previous reviews, the Trans Catalina Trail is 37.2 miles according to the conservancy. Though, I would say we hiked about 50 miles total on this trip.

5 days to complete
Day 1: Hiked to Blackjack campground
Day 2: Blackjack to Airport in the Sky to get a buffalo burger and stock up on water. Continued hiking to Little Harbors. *Stay at campground #12, the best! Closest to water
Day 3: Little Harbors to Two Harbors (only passed through this city to recharge, ate at the restaurant, had
drank buffalo milk, and replenished our bladders) Hiked to Parsons Landing. *If you think day 1
was hard, wait for this 6mile hike.. up and down, bring trekking poles if possible).
Day 4: Camped at Parsons Landing in campground #1, the best one since you're secluded from the
others. Hiked at Starlight Beach and back, enjoyed a fire and a dip in the ocean. 2 nights here
Day 5: Hiked to two harbors, taking the trail hugging the ocean, easier. From Two harbors we took a
safari bus to Avalon, which was nice to see where we've been). From Avalon took the boat out.

backpacking
Saturday, June 25, 2016

I had to give this 5 stars Even though I wanted to give it 3 HAHA!!! I Backpacked this trail in four days!
Avalon to Blackjack... Blackjack to Two Harbors... Two Harbors To Parsons Landing... Parsons Landing Back To Two Harbors.

First things first at least the mistakes and mishaps I made.
-BRING TREKKING POLES!!!! please just trust me on this one. I will never go anywhere with out them now because of this trip!! HAHA
-We did not realize that Avalon to blackjack would be about 17.5 miles.not including walking around avalon to check into the campsites... Almost everyone we talked to that had completed the TCT include the shortcut near the golf course that takes about 6 or 7 miles off the first day so PLEASE BE READY FOR AN INSANE FIRST DAY if you start from mile 1!!!!It was a lot with full packs
-On the First Day We ran out of water and luckily found water at a little playground near the reservoir not AT the reservoir. It really saved us but we wasted about 30 min looking for a spout at the viewing area and around the reservoir.
-Make sure to have a map and a compass we where pushed off trail a couple times because of an "Occupy TCT" by the bison and having basic compass and map skills really came in handy.

Day1 Avalon TO BJ
-17.5 miles.
-Awesome Views
-Toilets Smell... But are better than packing out waste!!!

Day 2 BJ to TH
13.6 miles
-Get lunch at the airport!!! Great pick me up!
-Wished we had stayed an extra day at Little Harbor
-AMAZING VIEWS probably the best of the trip

Day 3 TH to Parsons
-We Did not add the extra 9 miles RT to Starlight due to injury =( but Parsons is worth it so =)
-Big inclines bring trekking poles
-Big Declines BRING TREKKING POLES
-Amazing ridgeline views
-Fenceline trail is Crazy
-Parsons is So Beautiful

Day 4
8.1miles
- Take the coastline trail back towards emerald bay boy scout camp
-So Much Easier than Fenceline Trail and awesome coves and harbors

backpacking
Friday, May 20, 2016

Wow! Beautiful, challenging-BISON!!! This trail is forever etched in my brain.

camping
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

First and foremost this trail is listed at 37.2 miles, not 16. I would describe this trail as between difficult and moderate depending on the shape your in and time of year your hiking it. That being said, this trail is awesome. The views and camp sites are hard to beat here in SoCal. Me and my friend did the trail in 4 days in April. What makes the trail so hard is there are next to zero switchbacks, and the elevation gain and loss is pretty gnarly. I wouldn't recommend doing this trail in the summer because there's almost no shade either. I plan to do this trail at least once a year because it's so cool.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Gorgeous views. Felt safe by myself as I wasn't too far away at any point from the "civil world". No phone connection so couldn't make a recording. Saw a huge deer and some birds. Nice variation in the path. Loved it.

hiking
Tuesday, July 07, 2015

This was an amazing hike and backpacking trip I started out in Avalon and hiked to two harbors in three days there's plenty of water along the trail and the campsites are very well-maintained and beautiful! While on the trail I saw deer, bison, Fox and many different birds.

hiking
Friday, June 19, 2015

I backpacked this in 4 days.
Day 1: Avalon to Blackjack
Day 2: Blackjack to LIttle Harbor
Day 3: Little Harbor to Parson's Landing
Day 4: Parson's Landing to Starlight Beach and back
Day 5: Parson's to Two Harbors

It was amazing!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Gorgeous dry perfect views

Saturday, January 17, 2015

a very beautiful trail! my wife and I did this trail over Christmas break and had a great time. I really wish that the trail had some switch backs because going STRIGHT up and down the ridges was a bit much. Overall I had a great time, but I will be taking the main roads next time

hiking
Thursday, November 07, 2013

Not recommended by the faint hearted. A great deal of road at the beginning. Amazing views and scary huge buffalo that will walk up to you so be careful when you stop for lunch. Another amazing adventure with my husband Tom. Hat off to the Catalina Conservancy that booked our campsites through. Sheriff was awesome, professional and courteous. We were taken aback by a rave that consumed one of the campsites not what we expected when your through hiking. A must do. Make sure you take extra water. Give the buffalo a very wide birth.

camping
Sunday, September 29, 2013

I did the most extensive hike in 1980. I hiked from Avalon to Blackjack, and camped there. The next day I hiked to Little Harbor, spent that day there and camped. A caravan of Model Ts showed up. I have no idea where they came from or how they got there. The next morning I caught a ride to Two Harbors and caught the boat back to Avalon. It was a tidy little adventure.

hiking
Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My friend and I hiked the leg from Hermit Gulch to Two Harbors, via Blackjack Campground, the airport, and Little Harbor. It was a difficult hike in sections, due to 32 pound pack. The first leg (from Avalon to Blackjack) and the last leg ( from Little Harbor to Two Harbor) was strenuous with pretty serious elevation changes. The last leg was most difficult due to basically zero switchbacks. We had the overcast weather of "June Gloom," which was great. It stripped some of our views but I can't imagine doing it in full sun-it would be brutal. We loved the views, the isolation, the bison run ins, and the company we met at the campgrounds. I loved it and plan to come back soon!

hiking
Thursday, June 16, 2011

Overall, this was a great experience, but slightly different than I originally thought it was going to be.
The good:
- I didn't realize it, but since this is an island, you don't get a lot of the pesky bugs you get on the main land. Sure, there are still bugs, but not a lot. Plus, there are no dangerous animals to worry about like bears or cyotes. There are buffalos here and there, but just give them a wide berth and they'll leave you alone. So basically, it's pretty easy going.
- The changes in scenery are nice; you got from Avalon city, to trees in the hills, then desert in the middle, then semi-forest near Black Jack camp ground.
The bad:
- Since this is a mountanous island, I had dreams of this trail being at the top of ridges overlooking the ocean, but no, that hardly ever happens on this trail. It's mostly in the middle of the island and thus the views are not that spectacular.
- The heat: Sure, I went in the middle of July, but I thought there would be a constant sea breeze to cool me down. No. The middle of the island is like a desert valley; no breeze and not a lot of trees to rest under at certain spots.
- Sometimes confusing trail: Since the trail weaves through roads that are used for other purposes, you need to make sure to pay close attention to the actual trail. I went the wrong way for a quarter mile at one point, so make sure to keep the map handy.
- Expensive to get there: The main way to get to the island is via $65 round trip boat ride. Plus it's a few more dollars to reserve a camping spot. With most trails being free to drive to, this is a bit pricey.

I know I listed more bad than good, but it was still a great trip. The trail is nice and long, so it was a good challange. If you go during the summer, make sure to bring LOTS of water.

hiking
18 days ago

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