Explore the most popular beach trails near Avalon with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

backpacking
15 days ago

This is no longer the official route for this trail. Check the Catalina conservancy website for the new and updated map. We loved this trip and would definitely do it again! I wouldn’t suggest doing in the summer when the temperatures are high because there was little to no shade along the trail.

hiking
1 month ago

Did the Trans-Catalina in mid-March and you understand almost immediately why this is mostly a winter-only trip. There is virtually no shade, a lot of sun, and even though you have a lot of access to water, there are at least two very difficult big climbs and a couple big descents followed by immediate climbs. Catalina does not give you a lot of flats to cruise on. Make sure to follow the Catalina Conservancy's map or at least be very clear which deviations you're taking because you can easily go well out of your way. The official Trans-Catalina is well-marked and we didn't miss a single mile marker.

We started in Avalon on a sunny day and your first mile is a nice walk up to Hermit Gulch before your next two miles are a very steady, steep uphill to the top of the ridge. Even when it was only 65 degrees, this was very hard for four fit people but you get spectacular views of the Pacific on all sides. Your next couple miles are up and down along a very dry portion of the interior where you will start to see bison and see how big the island actually is. You spend a significant portion of the next 4 miles on or very close to the airport road, power lines, and pipes and step over a lot of buffalo crap, probably the least good part of the trip. However it is still very scenic. You do a few big descents and climbs away from the road finally which is hard but eventually you'll get to Blackjack which is a nice campground tucked into a pine grove. Nice to hear the wind in the trees at night.

Day Two you can make either very easy or long and moderately hard. We chose easy because it was supposed to rain that day (it did). You start with a confusing portion that confused several backpackers. When you leave Blackjack, turn right at the airport road briefly (look for the markers as this uncharacteristically does not have a sign pointing you in the right direction) then a sharp left. Another hard down-and-up brings you to the airport. Definitely stop for a meal. It's quiet and there's a lot to see in the airport of the history of Catalina. The rest of the day is a pretty easy descent down to Little Harbor. We camped here in the rain and it was perfectly fine, though it definitely feels a lot like a drive-in campground with a lot of huge, out-of-place palm trees. You could potentially continue to Two Harbors from here and make it in good time.

Day Three is where you see the best scenery and are the most isolated. The first five miles is a pretty easy ascent onto the ridge overlooking the Pacific and it is spectacular. Even after the rain, this was an easy trail and a big highlight. You descend quickly into Two Harbors around five miles where you can refill water if necessary. The next portion brings you south of town and up the hardest climb of the trip. Miles 25-27 were by far the hardest and, once the sun broke through again, took a long time. Near the top though you start getting spectacular views again, particularly if you take half an hour to do the Lobster Bay Lookout trail. Amazing. You spend the next few miles walking along a ridge toward the tip of the island before a very steep descent into Parson's. After the rain, this was very muddy but doable going down. I would not attempt going up it after rain. Parson's is a dream, but don't expect to show up and have a spot. Reserve well in advance and get water. Oh! And DON'T FORGET TO GET YOUR KEY AT THE TWO HARBORS VISITOR CENTER. I did and was very lucky someone shared their water with me.

Day Four is a flat 8 miles back to Two Harbors along the coast on the road. The water and vegetation is beautiful but it is a bummer to have to stare down at four different ugly summer camps that you have to wind around. That was another least good thing about the trip. You should make it back to Two Harbors by 10:30 in time to catch the 11:30 ferry back to San Pedro.

A great trip if you like views of the ocean with some difficult terrain and don't mind some portions that interface with human infrastructure a lot.

If I do this trip again, I would most likely make it a bit longer by going from Day One Avalon to Blackjack, Day Two Blackjack to Two Harbors (instead of Little Harbor) and Day Three Two Harbors to Parsons, but hike the entirety of the Silver Peak Trail down to Starlight Beach and then on to Parson's. Adding that leg to Day Three adds over four miles but the views from the top of the ridge are really something.

Gorgeous beautiful and spectacular hike. We backpacked this last weekend and saw whales breaching, a fox, a bison, a bald eagle, an Osprey ( not the backpack, haha). This hike was perfect for a first time backpacker, me, as it was mostly flat the entire way. If you do camp at the campground we preferred campground 2 over 1. Our group reserved both, but campground 1 was quite rocky. There were 3 spots on 1 that we're cleared, but campground 2 had lots of sandy spots to pitch a tent.

You are hiking a road but it is beautiful and Parsons Landing is worth every bit of the trek.

Relatively flat and a good route for my son's (9) first backpacking outing

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 ;).

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.

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! ⛺️

backpacking
6 months ago

Did this trail at the end of April, which was just about too late in the season since the whole trail is exposed and it was getting hot. The scenery was absolutely stunning! I started at the mile 1 trailhead and didn't see another soul until mile 7. Very difficult elevation gain and loss, but totally worth it. Camped the first night at Blackjack and it was super windy; second night at Little Harbor which was a great site next to the ocean, seemed to be a favorite by boaters; night 3 was at Parsons, and by far the best campsite! It felt like it took forever to get there, but a serene place on the sand. The most amazing views were about two miles outside of Little Harbor on the trek out. Worst moments were the 3 mile stretch into Little Harbor. The trail was straight down! But overall, a wonderful experience.

The hike starts in Two Harbors, ascending up an elevation change of 1,400ft in 1.8 miles via the Banning House Road. You pass a radio station on your left and continue along the ridge for about 4.5 miles. The views are spectacular! It was very hot and dry along the trail so bring enough water (we had about 1.5-2L each person) and sun protection. We reached the Little Harbor Campground and found our campsite. It had running potable water, food locker, 2 fire pits, an awning, and 2 camp tables. Nearby, you have access to beach showers and chemical toilets for your camping luxury! We spent 2 nights here and hiked back to Two Harbors on the third day. On our free day in Little Harbor, we kayaked RT to Ben Winston Beach and beached it on a small secluded beach (Middle Beach) which is a short hike over “Whale’s Tail”. You can catch an amazing sunset while perched atop Whale’s Tail as well, and for all you feeling a bit dare-devilish, there are a few cliff diving spots you can jump off of. But whatever it is you decide to do, always practice SAFETY FIRST! At night, it gets quite chilly so we donned sweaters/pants before bundling up in our sleeping bags. Some tips: arrange kayak rentals with “Wet Spot Rentals” and they’ll set it up for you there at Little Harbor Beach; firewood delivery is a must so you can enjoy the beautiful fire pits ($10/bundle)!

Tough parts, but epic views!

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.

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!

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.

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

For the actual current trail information and permits.

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.

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!

DO NOTuse the downloaded map on the site to navigate from blackjack to Little Harbor it veers off of the trans Catalina trail and takes you through a very difficult trail that takes you from mountain tops to riverbeds constantly. stay on the official trans Catalina trail !!!!! You will also encounter Buffalo at numerous points on this detour including herds of 30 to 50 in number, quite concerning at times.!Other than that ,the downloaded map is awesome! When you see the wooden sign saying trans Catalina trail as you leave blackjack for little harbor take it !!!!!!!!!!!!! Conversely leaving from Little Harbor going to black jack stay on the ridge top which is the trans Catalina trail DO NOT take the highlighted portion on the downloaded map that takes you down to the right By a bunch of worksheds and industrial equipment go straight up the ridge which is not highlighted in red this is the trans Catalina official trail that will take you to the airport. The detour that is highlighted in red looks much shorter do not take the bait !!!!!!!!!! You can make it from Black Jack to the isthmus in one hike but is not recommended, do yourself a favor and spend an overnight at little harbor. you will get there around 3 o'clock with plenty of time to set up take a swim in the ocean and enjoy the beach!!! pre-ordering would for any of the sites is a huge plus and recommended. Fantastic trail definitely in my top three things to do in California!

Did this trail over Memorial Day weekend. My Garmin tracked the distance closer to 6.2 miles, and the high point was about 1250'. It took about 4.5 hours. The opening trail is a huge climb straight out of Two Harbors. This is just one leg of the TCT. We did one day from Two Harbors to Little Harbors, then stayed and hiked in the LH area for a day, then on day 3, we went from Little Harbors to Parson's Landing. Overall, phenomenal experience, but depending on weather (it was pretty sunny and hot) it can be a demanding hike.

10 months ago

Backpacked from Hermits Gulch to Blackjack- one nite. BlackJack to Little Harbor. - one nite. Watch out for Buffalo on the trail to Little Harbor. We had to bushwack around the buffalo standing on three trail. Also some hikers with a dog spooked the bufflo5 and the hikers ended up in cactus. From Little Harborbwe hiked to 2 Harbors- one nite. Took a shower there. 2 Harbors also has washer and dryer. From 2 Harbors to Parsons for 2 nites. Be sure to order your water and wood for Parsons when you book the campsite. There is no drinking water there. Don't miss out on a hike to Starlite Beach - 6 miles from Parsons. A Beautiful secluded Beach.

hiking
10 months ago

Awesome hike with great views but at times long steep uphill. The signage is not obvious in some parts of the trail- so take a map. We missed the trail twice and had to backtrack. Once at Wriggly park and the other before airport.

Great hike, beautiful views

This is a fun hike that traverses a ridge line from Two-Harbors to Little Harbor. You climb 1200 feet in the first 1.8 miles to a radio relay station along Banning House road then hug the ridgeline trail to Little Harbor. The views are spectacular. Unfortunately, I elected to continue on the Banning House road to the main road in the valley from the relay station because the winds were to high. It was hard to keep my balance with a 35lb backpack. Safety First!

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!

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

Paved road but a nice view of Avalon and the harbor.

backpacking
Monday, March 27, 2017

Instead of heading all the way to the north tip, we cut down to Two Harbors and packed kayaks for a 2 day 1 night return to Avalon. Stayed at Goat Harbor and it is by far the best boat in site. We have done this trip (TCT + kayaking) a few times and always had a great experience. Must book boat in campsites ahead of time as well as kayaks as the company which operates out of Descanso Beach will drop them off at two harbors and take any extra gear back to Avalon via the kayak delivery truck.

Monday, December 12, 2016

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

I walked it round trip in five hours. Really enjoyed it. Lots of open scenery and a beautiful beach at Parsons's Landing.

walking
Saturday, November 05, 2016

Spent a few days in Catalina a couple of times. Biggest surprise was car controls and lack of sand. This is a nice little crowded walk... The best scenery on this one was all the beautiful boats that are moored in the bay.

I did this solo very early the morning after St Patrick's day in 2006 when my brother got married on Catalina. I woke up at daylight and couldn't get my son to go so just took off on Pebbly rd until I found a trail. Strangely no one around until I got to the Trans Catalina Trail and then there were lots of people running. Unknown before I started my little journey I had hiked into a Marathon Route. I gave all the runners plenty of room so no one minded. I eventually came upon some race officials but there was simply nowhere else to go. It was a fantastic hike with incredible breath taking views and difficult climbs. I actually ended up with a participants medallion later that night that I won in a pool game at one of the little local bars. Strange but true. My son really got a kick out of that one...

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