When it comes to hiking on Catalina Island, there is something for adventurers of all levels! From the relatively short and flat hikes to the 38.5-mile Trans-Catalina Trail, Catalina Island offers a wide variety among its 165 miles of recreational roads and trails made accessible by Catalina Island Conservancy.
For those looking for a gentle hike with a big view, Patrick Reservoir Trail to Inspiration Point is the route for you. Because you start at a high elevation off of Stagecoach Road, you’ll find a great view down the backside of the Island with relatively little elevation gain. This trail leads past several former ranching reservoirs to a bench with stunning views of Grand Canyon at Inspiration Point. While sitting and enjoying the view, look at the Grand Canyon with intruded igneous rock, visible due to uplift and erosion. Make it a 1.4-mile loop by returning via Patrick Dam Road.
Another favorite loop is slightly more challenging. The Garden to Sky Loop clocks in at 3.8-miles long. This trail is easily accessible from Avalon. Spend some time learning about different native and endemic plants at Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden before starting the hike, which begins at the top of the gardens. By turning right at Divide Road, you’ll descend on Hermit Gulch Trail and end in Avalon. If you’re looking for a slightly longer adventure, add on Lone Tree Spur for beautiful ocean views from the back side of the Island, bringing the total hike length to 6 miles.
Multi-day explorers can tackle the Trans-Catalina Trail. This 38.5-mile trek traverses the backbone of the Island on rugged single-track trails and 4x4 roads. Be prepared for spectacular views, but minimal shade. Camping is available at different sites along the trail with Conservancy members receiving 50% off. If you’re still working your way up to 17,000+ feet of elevation gain, shorter hikes are possible along sections of the Trans-Catalina Trail.
These are just three examples of the many hikes to be found on Catalina Island. To prepare for your hike, maps and permits are available online and at the Trailhead visitor center in Avalon. Permits are always free and can be obtained here. Please visit CatalinaConservancy.org for current hiking protocols.
By: Jessica Boudevin, Catalina Island Conservancy