Trans-Catalina Trail: From Avalon to Black Jack Camp

HARD 46 reviews

Trans-Catalina Trail: From Avalon to Black Jack Camp is a 13.8 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Avalon, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 13.8 miles Elevation Gain: 3,339 feet Route Type: Point to Point





nature trips

bird watching



wild flowers


no shade

no dogs

7 months ago

we did the entire Trans Catalina Trail, this is day 1. Read that we can't bring fuel on the ferry, but no one ever checked. Please note that the grocery store does not have the correct fuel, you must go a block over to Chet's Hardware store. it's a fantastic building so well worth it. Walk thru town a ways before getting to the trailhead. Parts of the trail are not marked very well, so pay attention. 1st big uphill has a nice pergola at the top and a great spot to stop for lunch. YES, there is a bathroom up there but you have to walk past the pergola before you see it. Made it almost half way thru the hike before I saw a buffalo and then I seem to have one around every turn. And they love to stand on the trail so you either wait or go around them. The last 2 miles before camp seemed to be a bit newer and not marked well. camp #1 was fantastic for our 4 tents. Thunder and lightning and rain that night but we had no issues. another sight had their tents flood. next day you are off to the airport!

8 months ago

Brutal and Beautiful.

8 months ago

Hot. When I hiked on October 20th and high temp was 80, it felt like 100. No breeze, no shade. The trail was mostly fire road and sometimes the tour jeep full of people went by. We hired for our gear hauling from Avalon to Blackjack - we were so glad for that. We found that now Trans-Catalina trailhead is at Avalon center where Conservancy was and Hermit Gulch trailhead was Trans-Catalina trailhead. We decided take old Trans-Catalina trailhead where Renton Mine Rd was - 2 miles from Avalon center and few more additional miles. I wish we took Hermit Gulch trail. We ended up hiking16.5 miles to Blackjack in hot weather. I thought I would pass out one point. We saw quite few bisons on the way. I had to go around one bison because she/he was right on the trail. Blackjack camp site was very limited camp site. It seems they were trying to expand - some heavy equipments and derbies were there. I really did not love this trail except bisons. I don't think I will hike this trail again.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Trans Catalina Trail can be extremely hot in the summer months. If you are going to be hiking in the summer and are worried about the heat and difficulty of the trail. I would highly recommend looking into gear haul services for the more strenuous portions of the trail. All your backpacking gear is delivered directly to your campsite and you can bring extra water/food/drinks/firewood. 310-913-9036 with Catalina Backcountry

Friday, June 15, 2018

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.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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 ;).

Sunday, January 14, 2018

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.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

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! ⛺️

Thursday, September 07, 2017

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.

Monday, August 07, 2017

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!

Saturday, August 05, 2017

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.

Monday, July 24, 2017 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!

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!

Monday, December 12, 2016

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

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.

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

Friday, May 20, 2016

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

10 days ago

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