One of the best perks of living in California is the variety of breathtaking beaches, canyons, and scenery. If you’re a hiking fanatic, you’ll especially love the beautiful landscapes on Catalina Island. This cherished island contains some of the best hiking in California. Catalina Island is a highly-esteemed utopia that allows anyone to escape traffic jams, concrete jungle, and crowded experiences that accompany many of California’s hiking trails. No matter how many people are on the Island, even during popular summers, hiking on Catalina Island is such a quiet and serene experience. Visitors also encounter spectacular wildlife, such as foxes, bison, and deer.
Catalina Island hiking trails are accessible from Two Harbors or Avalon. On these paths, hikers soon realize there’s a different and exciting feeling that stems from being on an island. It makes people relax – like they are so far away from the normal, hectic pace of life. There’s nothing quite like it. If you’re ready for the island getaway experience, here are three of the best places to go hiking in California.
1. Trans-Catalina Trail: Hiking in California
If you like camping and backpacking, this hike is for you. The Trans-Catalina hiking trail is 38.5 miles, and it goes throughout the entire Island. Adventuring from one side of the Island to the other takes about 3-5 days to complete; however, this hike can also be broken up into smaller, more casual hikes. Whether hiking from Two Harbors Campground to Little Harbor Campground, or from Avalon to Two Harbors, visitors have the unique opportunity to map out their own hike. There are multiple camping sites so there is always somewhere to stay, making it even more flexible to “build your own hike.”
If you’re backpacking and you don’t want to carry anything, reach out to Catalina Backcountry. They are an excellent business that can deliver your gear, supply firewood, set up your tent, and even bring you dinner. Their service makes hiking Trans-Catalina a lot easier.
To traverse this hiking trail, you have to go to the Catalina Conservancy and get a permit. The permit is free, and it’s required so they know who’s on the trail. You can get your free hiking permit online here.
- Length: 38.5 miles.
- Time: Approximately 3-5 days
- Difficulty: Advanced
2. Garden to Sky Hiking in California
This California hiking trail is a great choice for day trippers who would like to spend more time exploring other parts of the Island, like the restaurants and shops. The Garden to Sky hike begins at The Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden and ends with a stunning view of both sides of the Island. From Avalon, you can either bus to the Botanic Garden, take a golf cart, or walk two-miles.
This is a 2.5-mile hike round trip but it feels longer because you’re hiking uphill. It features breathtaking 360-degree views and offers surprising encounters. For example, you can start the hike with clear skies and when you get to other side, the Island is draped in a beautiful fog that is something out of a fairytale.
Because the hike begins out of The Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden, the entrance to this trail is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and vets, and $3 for kids and students. Under 5 is free. This allows you to walk through the beautiful gardens and explore the Wrigley Memorial before you head to your hike. The trail can also be accessed for free at Hermit Gulch Campground on Avalon Canyon Road. Though this makes the trail significantly longer and steeper.
- Length: 2.5 miles.
- Time: Approximately 2-4 hours
- Difficulty: Moderate
3. Two Harbors to Parsons Landing
This is a beautiful hike alongside the coast of Catalina Island. The trail is on a wide dirt road with amazing views near seaside cliffs. The hike begins in Two Harbors and goes to Parsons Landing Campground. Each of the 8 campsites include picnic tables, fire pits, and level surfaces. If you do choose to camp, you will experience a beautiful evening on a secluded beach listening to ocean waves in the background. This is a pleasurable hike with gorgeous ocean views.
- Length: 6.6 miles.
- Time: Approximately 4-6 hours
- Difficulty: Easy
For every hike on Catalina Island, be sure to bring:
- Hiking clothing
- Navigation gear
- Bagging and camping gear
- Catalina Island Map
- Hiking shoes
- Emergency kits
For a full list of Catalina Island gear guidelines, visit here.
There are over 165 miles of recreational roads and hiking trails on Catalina Island. Catalina Conservancy is always building additional trail heads, developing new trails, and adding more bathrooms so that visitors can embark on new and exciting adventures. There are also many hikes that anyone can take within Two Harbors and Avalon. The Catalina Island Company has city hikes that allow you to hike to a zip line and then hike back around. Once a month on Catalina Island, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) hosts yoga in the morning and hiking in the afternoon. They partner with the Catalina Conservancy to create many other enjoyable island hiking experiences.
Participate in the best hiking in California and begin your dream vacation today by making a reservation on board Catalina Express!