Explore the most popular views 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
11 days ago

Giving five stars because trail was well marked, and easy to find. I had downloaded the All Trails map but it wouldn’t load for some reason. I too, am a pro member. Completely relied on the Catalina map that you can buy at the visitor center instead. Decent cell reception on most of the area and plenty of places to stop for food if you plan right (you could easily carry just two days worth of food on a four day trip). We did Avalon to blackjack on day 1 then blackjack to two harbors day two, and finally two harbors to starlight beach (camp at parson landing) day three, and parsons landing to two harbors day four. In retrospect, We wish we had arrived in time to camp at hermit gulch, get an early start, and hike all the way to little harbor on day one (prettiest campsite). Then day two we would suggest little harbor to parsons landing, then back on day three. Don’t skip the hill to parsons landing. It has beautiful views and a lot more fun than the flat way. It is really steep going down. Wouldn’t suggest going up it from PL bc of the grade. The Catalina trail map altitude gain image is more of a pretty looking estimation. Just follow the contours. Overall the hardest part for us wasn’t the hills, but rather the heat and sun exposure on the way to blackjack. Pack as light as possible. But definitely pack a rain fly for camping anywhere on the beach. Ours got soaked and we were very happy to have it. Oh yeah, and for starlight beach take the old west end road trail instead of the road. It’s easy to miss, on the right hand side. Otherwise the road drops steep to the coast, then back up to meet old west end road. Totally unnecessary. Ask for a second bundle of firewood at two harbors... I think it’s included in the cost. Don’t forget to call ahead and order water and wood for PL.

Just got back from a 3 day in and out from Two Harbors to Parsons Landing. Perfect time of year to do this trip weather wise and crowd wise.

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.

backpacking
26 days ago

First off, my AllTrails app did not work on the island. Getting discouraged with the spotty functionality. This, despite pre-downloading maps on my app. The app was just completely frozen. (I pay for the "Pro" version too).
The hike itself was fantastic. Some good elevation and great ocean views. Many of the inlets were a rich turquoise color - reminiscent of the Caribbean.
The best campsites on the island were definitely Little Harbor and Parsons Landing.
Be sure to use the route provided by the Catalina Conservancy map and not the AllTrails route.
Had great weather in October. Every day was around 70 degrees with morning cloud cover (great time to climb).

backpacking
1 month ago

I LOVE THIS TRAIL! I have done it five times, it takes me two days. For the most part the hike starts at sea level, but there are a few spots that have a pretty nice climb. I wear trail runners and stop by and get a burger at Airport in the Sky. My mom who is 70 has done it with me twice and my son completed it at 12 and 14. Each time I have hiked this trail it has been at different times of the year: February, March, April, June, and July. In July, it can be over 100 degrees on the ridge. Even in April, you can get burned pretty bad. The best time was in February. The days were comfortable, the nights were still warm, if it rained it wasn't a down pour. I have gone from Avalon to Two Harbor and Two Harbor to Avalon.

Regardless - I love this hike. I love the beauty of the island, the Buffalos, the foxes, you name it. I have only seen one snake which was laying in the sun. I have never been bothered by any animals or people. The only recommendation I would say, is to watch your water. Sometimes water can be limited on the island. Also, keep your gear and food in the tent but away from the sides of the tent. I generally use a bug tent. At night the foxes will come around and if you leave snacks by the edge, they could chew through the mesh. The back side of the island makes you feel like you are in Jurassic Park. In Two Harbor make sure you stop my and get some seared Ahi - it is the BEST! Enjoy every minute of it, it is well worth it!

Starting at the Hermits Gulch campground it is 1.75 miles of constant uphill until you reach the gazebo with the Lone Bush ( not a tree). If you take the left fork you head down towards the Wrigley Memorial which is in the Botanical Garden. This makes for about a 4.5 mile loop. Free access to the Botanical Garden this way, although the Garden is not much to see. Not fun for kids unless they are into stair stepping at a young age.

Amazing! silver peak was by far the hardest part, especially after the 5 mile hike from little harbor to 2 harbors. We started around noon and the sun was brutal! We expected it to be hot as it's September but they had not one single shader or table/bench while out on the 6 miles....it was still amazing! The whole trail was great! We had a blast! make sure to lock your fox boxes..lol, we forgot the last night and all our food got stolen by a sneaky fox...thankfully we only had 8 miles left to the trail! little harbor was our favorite camp site! It was beautiful and people we met were all wonderful!

Visited in September. Very warm, not much of any shade along the trail. Pack more water than you think you’ll need. Level for the first 5mi. or so. As soon as you transfer from West End RD. nearing the Trans Catalina trail (close to Parsons), there are some nice hilly areas. I suggest trekking poles for backpackers.

Definitely strenuous, recommend being in very good shape. Totally worth every second! Extraordinary views at every point. Truly stunning. Highly recommend

We enjoyed this hike on 8/16/18. We started the hike at the campsite which turned out to be great. It is steep but you will constantly stop and gaze at the views so I promise you won’t even realize how far you’ve hiked. The way down is easy and trail itself is very easy to follow.
I do recommend starting at the campsite trail; if you start at the garden expect to hike down to be potentially difficult.

trail running
3 months ago

Did as a 1-day trail run, took the Catalina Express ferry from San Pedro and started at Two Harbors towards Avalon (skipped the north part). Ran the 26 miles to Avalon in about 8 hrs along the "official" Trans Catalina Trail see https://www.catalinaconservancy.org/userfiles/files/Hiking%20Map%202017%2011x17(1).pdf (it goes by airport via Sheep Chute Road).

Definitely some pretty areas. I like the ridge north of Little Harbor and the section south of Black Jack Campground (where the buffalo are).

Least favorite was Sheep Chute road and area near the airport. I'd consider doing the bypass along Cottonwood trail as shown in Red on AllTrails, but I guess that skips the water at the airport. Also it looks like Google Maps doesn't even show Cottonwood Trail so make sure you have this AllTrails map or a USGS version.

3 bottles of Gatorade was less than enough, but was able to refill one at the airport halfway. Pretty hot out there in late July. Very arid and dry. Could imagine it being more pretty in the winter.

Remember the ferry takes over an hour each way which eats into your trail time. Still I do recommend doing it as a dayhike trail run.

hiking
4 months ago

Completed the TCT from Avalon to Parsons Lansing Oct 2016 and it was an excellent experience! However, as mentioned in previous reviews, there is pretty much 0 shade from the sun throughout the vast majority of the hike. And water is only found at camp areas and the airport strip food mart gift shop so plan accordingly.

Got dropped off by ferry at Avalon and hiked straight from Avalon to BlackJack where we camped at Black Jack the first night. Day two we hiked to the airport to fill up on water and onto little harbor. I encourage a pit stop swim in the ocean at little harbor, before strapping on your gear again for another long stretch of straight uphill climbs. From little harbor there was a long very uphill stretch to two harbors, where we camped for the 2nd night.

After we camped the night at two Harbors (which was the most crowded of campsites), we got back on the trail and hiked to Parsons landing which was my favorite of the 3 campsites. Once you refill on water located in pre designated lockers with your campsite number listed on it, you actually set up camp right on the beach next to the ocean on your fairly secluded personal sandy beach. Note- be sure to secure your rainfly on your tent as the ocean creates a mist at night that will get everything damp. The next and final day we hiked from PL back to Two Harbors where we caught a ferry back to Long Beach.

I highly recommend this hike, but be prepared for the island/desert terrain. And I should also mention that buffalo sightings and potentially close encounters with them are highly
likely.

hiking
4 months ago

Had a great time on this trail yesterday midday (July 1st). Hiked up from the campsite trailhead, it’s pretty steep with little shade until you get to the peak at 1.7 miles, sometimes cool sea breezes and sometimes not, so you’ll get hot. Cute little gazebo type structure at the top, again with great views.

Bring plenty of water (I drank two liters), hat, and sunscreen, but poles are not necessary. The trail is on the narrower side and has a few steep switchbacks as you head up the hills. Lots of beautiful views as you head up, including several where you can see the ocean on both sides.

The way down is much wider (a ranger truck passed us at one point) and an easier grade - all the way down to Wrigley Memorial. Going this way you get to enter the botanic gardens for free ($8 admission otherwise), which we hadn’t realized. Anyways, great perk on a great hike — the outdoors, some culture/history, and lots of cool cacti. If you are looking for an easier hike, perhaps start at the gardens/Wrigley and do it as an out and back from there to the peak, also known as the “Garden to the Sky” trail.

We also walked in from Avalon, so it’s a flat 1.5 miles in to the trailhead. Otherwise there is a shuttle which is $2 and runs every 20 min, but if you’re going to do a moderate hike like this you probably don’t need to shuttle. We only saw two other groups while hiking which surprised us, had assumed there would be more on a Sunday.

I think this is a great option if you are a moderately fit hiker who doesn’t have a ton of time in Avalon but wants to experience some of the grandeur of the TCT with a couple extra hours to hang out in town (we were there on a day trip, first ferry in and last ferry out).

backpacking
4 months ago

Me and my husband made this our first backpacking trip and it was definitely one of my favorite experiences! We went from Avalon to Two Harbors in two days.

Day 1: Ferry in, Avalon to Blackjack campground (11 miles, took us about 6 hours total)
Day 2: Blackjack to Two Harbors (13 miles, took us about 8 hours, including our stop at Airport in the Sky and hanging out at Little Harbor), Ferry out.

So much wildlife, it would be difficult not to see Bison and foxes. We had a fox that hung out at our campsite. My husband also was a little too brave and continued on the trail with a pack of Bison right off the trail, and ended up being charged by one of the bulls. Fortunately he dropped his pack when he ran and it scared the bull. Make sure to keep your distance from them! Also watch out for snakes, we passed a rattlesnake and another yellow and black striped snake on the trail and didn't notice until they stirred.

Beautiful views, changing terrain every few miles, all in all an amazing way to view the island.

The one thing I would have changed was adding another day to our trip so we could have camped at Little Harbor and hiked from there to Two Harbors the following day. The second day hiking was quite a challenge for us considering the heat, the steep ascents to Two Harbors after Little Harbor, and the wear on our legs and feet after day one. However, the views are spectacular to Two Harbors.

Overall awesome backpacking, would highly recommend.

backpacking
4 months ago

Enjoyed the trail and its amazing views (little harbor to two harbors, silver peak trail, top of hermit gulch). We were always close to bison, deer, and foxes. A bison even walked up to our campsite while one of us was showering. Scary.

I did not like jeeps and trucks constantly passing us from Hermit Gulch to Blackjack or from Parsons to Two Harbors, but it didn't ruin the trip.

We went in late June and it was not hot at average 65F but the kids had gotten out of school and Parson's was a madhouse.

The best food served on the trail is at the airport and the food at Two Harbors is overpriced and unremarkable.

On the 3rd day we did the 14mi loop from Two Harbors to Parsons and back (of the official 2017 trail) in 1 day and would not recommend doing that as our feet were in so much pain walking 7.5 miles on a flat road after a >1mi long descent on fenceline road.

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

backpacking
4 months ago

Great backpack trip if you park your solitude and wilderness expectations at the door and just enjoy it.

We did it in six days: Day 1: Hermit Gulch, Day 2: to Blackjack, Day 3: to Little Harbor, Day 4: to Two Harbors, Day 5: to Parsons, Day 6: Home.

We did the exact route provided by the Catalina Conservancy, but we did the west end of the island in a counterclockwise fashion instead of clockwise.

Caveats: 1) one segment of the westernmost trail from miles 28.5 to Mile 30 is called Fenceline Road. That part of the trail topped out at 30% grade and was very steep. There is an alternative route if you continue toward Silver Peak, and I'd recommend it as this part was just brutal (uphill) and would be dangerous on the downhill. 2) Fox boxes are provided at all campsites. Use them. A fox tore a hole in our tent to try to take our food bag. Our fault for listening to others who said it was okay. (The foxes are adorbs!)

Okay, that said, what a great romantic trip! Restaurants in Avalon, airport, and Two Harbors. We enjoyed being trail-trash and hanging out in Two Harbors as we awaited another couple joining us (who missed the early boat). We did this over Memorial Day and the weather was good for the whole trip except at Little Harbor where it was windy. The holiday weekend made for better music in Two Harbors. (A knowledgeable local says Little Harbor is the place to be in August).

Solitude whenever we were on the trail was interspersed with the tourists in Avalon and Two Harbor. The buffalo were mainly a) at Black Jack (one slept 25 feet away from our camp site [#1!]) and b) near and after the airport. Talk loud and they'll move off the trail.

Day 1 we took the 1:30 boat from Long Beach to Avalon and did the tourist thing. Hiking 5 miles between going to Hermit Gulch, going back to downtown for dinner, and back again with some exploration.

Day 2 is lots of up, followed by lots of up and down. It would have been excessively hot if the weather were so, but it wasn't. so. Views were nice. Blackjack campground is fun.

Day 3 You get to hoof it for a few miles to the airport, then have a giant breakfast! How cool is that? The ladies at the restaurant have trained the local ravens and squirrels, so there's a floor show too. After that you get to see the actual herd of buffalo. Again pretty cool. Others noted how they'd avoided the buffalo herd because they were on the trail. We just talked loudly as we approached and the herd lovingly moved for us. More amazing views as you cross the island and drop down to Little Harbor - Catalina's answer to car camping. Gorgeous views though. Too cool to swim, unfortunately. I will be back to set up a camping trip here at the beautiful giant group campsites.

Day 4: Two Harbors. Easy hike to Two Harbors where we'd meet our friends for their first backpack trip. The views just astound as you hike along the giant cliffs. The trail drops down and you reenter the madding crowd. But hey: grill and bar and shower. Our friends missed the 12:30 boat, so we had to sit there and eat tons, and drink (moderately) and dance to the live music. (Oh and hot showers!) Not bad.... Stayed at Two Harbors Campground. We had one down near the water. Maybe one of the sites up the hill would have been a bit better (but windier?)

Day 5: When we hiked from Two Harbors to Parsons, mostly on road (sad face) we passed Emerald Bay. I think we passed a church service in one of the anchorages consisting of many dingys cuddling up to a big yacht. Emerald Bay looked so amazing that we hiked down and ate and chilled and swam all afternoon. Once you pass the Boy Scout Campground, you are in the wilderness again with great shore views and the relatively secluded Parson's Landing. (Why did he land here, it's all rocks?)

Day 6: We split up with the girls roadwalking back past Emerald Bay while we tough guys climbed up to FOG. Yeah, no views, and that caveated blankety blank Fenceline Road. But we were done. Back at Two Harbors, we got food, got on the earlier boat and slept back San Pedro, where we got our friends to drive us to Long Beach (very near by, a cab would do as well.)

We didn't get to do the final beach because our friends were not up for the additional mileage to Startlight. So, that said, I'd likely extend this trip to include starlight beach for sure, since it seems cheezy not to go to the other end of the island.

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.

Overall great moderate hike. Stunning views of Avalon while you ascend Hermit Gulch. The lone tree trail also offers incredible views of the other peaks and canyons on the island, as well as the pacific and San Clemente Island to the south. The hike culminates on the edge of the palisades with another spectacular view, although if there was a lone tree at the end of the trail, it is no longer the case now. Recommend to take the trans-Catalina trail south on the way down in order to take the offshoot trail through the Wrigley botanical gardens.

backpacking
7 months 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
8 months 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.

Great hike with great views once at the top. I am not an avid hiker but with plenty of water, some snacks and few stops on the way up it was very manageable.

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! ⛺️

This was a great hike. Unfortunately fog rolled in at the end of Lone Tree trail.

backpacking
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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.

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