Trans Catalina Trail: Hermit Gulch to Two Harbors

HARD 10 reviews

Trans Catalina Trail: Hermit Gulch to Two Harbors is a 22.2 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Avalon, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, nature trips, and backpacking and is best used from March until May.

Distance: 22.2 miles Elevation Gain: 4,685 feet Route Type: Point to Point




nature trips




wild flowers



no shade

no dogs

Take the shuttle from avalon to hermit gulch campground. Hike the hermit gulch trail to TCT where you then walk to Blackjack Campground to spend one night. Next day walk to Two harbors with a stop for lunch at little harbor or the airport.

Amazing views! We did this trail in 3 nights. Forgot to start recording from Avalon to hermit gulch which would add about another mile and a half. Close encounters with bison on our way to Blackjack. Day 1 Hermit to Blackjack (could have kept going). Day 2 Blackjack to Two harbors. Got and early start and had breakfast at the airport. The views are the best on this part of the trail. Day 3 Two harbors to Parsons(drop off pack) then Starlight beach(very isolated-no access from roads if you need rescued) and back to Parsons. Very long, very steep, lots of slippery gravel. Poles are a must! The views from the top are crazy and Parsons beach camping is unreal! Day 4 was the easiest, made it back to Two harbors in about 3 hours.

3 months ago

Bison. So many bison. Bring poles. Plenty of potable water on this trail.

5 months ago

5 stars for the trail itself and 3 stars for how it is run. Sorry for the novel, but I know I love reading others' long reviews for these longer treks! I hoped to do the entire trans Catalina, but it was cut short with the trails closed from heavy rain. I didn't do the Little Harbor to Two Harbor section of this one on Alltrails, and instead did Avalon-Black Jack-Little Harbor-The Airport. Took a shuttle from the airport to Avalon. Little Harbor to Two Harbor is a relatively easier hike than Little Harbor to the airport (about the same distance, but the route back to the airport is all uphill), but the extra challenge with a trip cut short was welcomed. Basics: -Getting there: I left from Dana Point to Avalon on the Catalina Express. $75 roundtrip and only a $5 fee for changing your reservation once on the island. There is a Groupon for $45 for a company that goes out of Newport right now. I chose Catalina Express because they are dog friendly. For parking at Dana Point, you can either pay $14 per day or walk the extra 5 minutes to free street parking (there is plenty that allows for overnight with only street sweeping restrictions). I chose street parking and had no issues. -Count on buffalo sharing the trail with you and add that into your time. I saw more buffalo ON the trail than people (awesome! But really plan ahead for this with your timing). Most were just crossing, but 2 set me back a bit. One was laying in the middle of trail at a point where it was surrounded by cactus (too hard to get around, and ended up walking back to the road and using that a bit until it reconnected to the trail). The other was just on the other side of a high point and was a bit too close for comfort. He was leisurely going the same way, so I waited for about an hour until he was out of site and was mindful of where his tracks took him. Anyways, be especially mindful when coming over a high point and there was one small stretch between the airport and the Little Harbor where the combo of trees/quick turns made it difficult to see if one was close. For the most part, you'll be able to see them long before you're close. -February has perfect temperatures for hiking with a heavy pack and a dog. However, if rain is on the forecast for even a half of a day, consider canceling your trip. I'm used to thru hiking in rain and enjoy it... but made the mistake of underestimating how much it effects this island. Most of Little Harbor and Parson's Landing with be underwater, and they close the trails. Most of the roads on the island are also dirt roads, and are similar condition to the trails. I planned this trip a few days out from leaving, and not a single office I spoke to mentioned how effected the island is from rain (with rain definitely on the forecast when I made the reservation). When making reservations for the campsites, they didn't mention that 2 of my planned campgrounds are underwater after a rain. I didn't know until a ranger told me the night before it was supposed to rain. Hope someone can learn from my mistake! -For campgrounds during the week this time of year, you don't need reservations and I would recommend not making them in advance. Just make sure your phone has enough charge to make a reservation online. There is a $10 online/phone processing charge and $19 per person in off-season. There is no option to make reservations in person and the $10 charge is unavoidable ($4 if you are calling on the day of). They said you were required to have a printed version, but in reality the email confirmation would have done the job. If I had been traveling in a group, $19 per person would have been grossly overpriced (for example, expect moldy toilet paper during off season). As a solo thru traveler, the price was well worth it for the access to water and the friendly ranger at Little Harbor that gave accurate information on rainy conditions. No extra charge for a dog at either site I stayed at. Calling around to get information was more of a hassle than other trips I've had. Everyone has a different answer and then it varies from what the website says... the few other campers at the campsites shared the same frustration. Expect even more variation for dog friendliness policies. Dog friendliness: -Catalina Express allows dogs with a muzzle at no extra charge. Dogs are allowed in the cabin and on the deck. The boats aren't anywhere near capacity this time of year, so he had room to sprawl out under the seats. -The entire trans Catalina trail is dog friendly. You will find buffalo on the trail, so obviously be mindful of if you trust your dog not to react and give an even wider birth. -I couldn't get a consistent answer on dog-friendly campsites. On the phone, the reservation agents were positive dogs weren't allowed at any sites but also said that the conservancy makes the policies. The reservation website would say dogs allowed, and the confirmation email said in bold letters that no dogs were allowed. The conservancy to

Monday, May 22, 2017

Great hike, beautiful views

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Thursday, April 20, 2017

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