Catalina Island's Hiking Guide : Catalina Express

Catalina Island's Hiking Guide

Catalina Island offers camping and hiking tails for every level.

Catalina Island offers a wide variety of hikes among the 165 miles of recreational roads and trails made accessible by the Catalina Island Conservancy. With new and improved trails, signs and restrooms, Catalina Island is a premier destination for hikers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts.

From the relatively short and easily accessible Garden to Sky Trail beginning at the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden in Avalon to the 38.5 mile Trans-Catalina Trail that stretches from Avalon to Parsons Landing and back to Two Harbors, there is a hike for everyone.  

Looking to explore the trails?  Here is just a sample of what you may find on your journey:

1. Take in spectacular views of the Channel Islands including San Clemente, San Nicolas and Santa Barbara Island and beyond. From Silver Peak Trail, where a beautiful new shade structure will be located, views of the Channel Islands make for a great resting spot along the Trans-Catalina Trail.

2. On the Airport Loop Trail, enjoy cultural history and summit views along a gently sloping trail surrounding the Airport in the Sky. Interpretive signage explains an extensive soapstone quarry utilized by native peoples.

3. Various wildlife species- bison, bald eagles, Catalina quail, and many more can be found among the Island’s, canyons, summits, reservoirs and beaches. Catalina Island is home to more than 60 endemic species of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world including the Catalina Island Fox whose numbers have risen to 2,047, made possible by the Conservancy’s recovery efforts. 

4. The Island has several reservoirs, but only one natural lake. Echo Lake is known for its clay which was once used to make Wrigley’s famous Catalina tiles found throughout Avalon and now considered collectibles. Visit this natural lake as well as the endemic Ironwood Tree Groves along Echo Lake Road trail when staying at Black Jack campground nearby.  

5. With continued rains, Spring is always a beautiful time to visit the Island’s many trails.  Plentiful rains should replenish water levels at the many reservoirs throughout the Island, while also providing rolling green vistas and plentiful wildflowers to enjoy during your hiking journey. 

    As you can see, when it comes to hiking, Catalina Island cannot be beat. No other Channel Island features the diversity that Catalina has to offer from the plants and animals, to the various landscapes changing with the seasons, to the historical cultural aspects still evident today, to the challenging elevations and spectacular views. Catalina Island truly has something for every hiker.

    To prepare for your hike, maps and permits will be available at the Trailhead, the Conservancy’s new visitor center in Avalon opening soon. They are currently available at the Conservancy House, Nature Center and Airport in the Sky.  Hiking permits are required, so hikers can be located in the event of an emergency. They are free and can also be obtained online from the Catalina Island Conservancy’s website. To protect the natural habitats, the Conservancy asks hikers to stay on the designated trails and carry out all waste.  

    Enjoy your time on the trails!


    by Gina Dartt

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