The Trans-Catalina Trail is a rugged hike along the Island’s interior with camping stops next to pristine beaches covering 38.5 miles.
Hikers will traverse the Island starting at the Trailhead in Avalon and finishing at Two Harbors (after winding through the West End of the Island). Along the way you may experience sightings of some of the Island’s wildlife including bison, the Catalina Island fox, and bald eagles. This hike typically takes 4 days with stops at each of the Conservancy’s 3 campsites. Hiking permits are required and free by clicking on the permits section of our website.
Plan your Trans-Catalina Trail Adventure
Start your hike at the Conservancy’s Trailhead visitor center in Avalon where hiking permits and trail maps are available. The second trailhead out of Avalon begins at the Hermit Gulch Campgrounds in Avalon Canyon. The Hermit Gulch Trail will take you up to Divide Road. Turn right and follow the TCT through Haypress picnic area, past Middle Ranch Road, past Cape Canyon to the Black Jack Campground. Camp for the night.
From Black Jack Campground, you’ll cross the expansive Cottonwood Canyon. As you approach the Airport, you’ll pass a 2,000-year-old soapstone quarry with bowls excavated by Catalina’s first residents, the Tongva, still visible. When you reach the Airport in the Sky, this is a good opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy refreshments from the Airport in the Sky Restaurant.
Exit the airport and continue along the Airport Loop section of the TCT until you get to the Empire Landing Road, then turn left. In about two miles, you’ll turn onto the new Big Springs Ridge Trail portion of the TCT. Follow the trail to Little Harbor to set-up camp for the night. This is the easiest section of the trail and will give you time to enjoy the beach at Little Harbor.
At the northwest corner of the Little Harbor Campground, take the trail west to the top of the ridge. You’ll then head north. Follow the trail markers to the Tower Peak Radio Site on the Banning House Road. You can purchase lunch in Two Harbors to reduce weight in your pack.
From the Two Harbors campsite, make your way south, across the Isthmus to the Silver Peak Trail portion of the TCT. This is a very challenging portion of the TCT, but one of the most rewarding.
The trail drops you into Parson’s Landing Campground. This is a secluded beach camping site. Running water is not provided; you must pack in your supplies, or arrange to have your equipment delivered and camp for the final night.
You’re on the home stretch! Complete the final leg of the trail back to Two Harbors via West End Road and enjoy a cold drink in town. Then take the return boat to San Pedro through the Catalina Express.
SAFETY & CAUTIONS
For your safety a hiking permit is required, and is available online under permits.
Do not approach or harass wildlife. Always maintain a safe and respectful distance.
Bison are wild animals and can cause serious injury and even death. They can accelerate quickly to 35 mph and jump more than six feet high. The Catalina Island Conservancy recommends maintaining a minimum distance of 125 feet from bison at all times. Never approach, touch or attempt to feed bison. If you feel threatened, identify an escape route. Place a large object (tree, rock or vehicle) between you and bison, and give bison a path to avoid you. Never box-in bison with people in front and behind the animal.
Rattlesnakes can be seen all year, but are more common between the months of April and October. It is rare to see or hear snakes along trails and roads, but keep a look-out. In daytime, they seek the shade of tall grass. At night, they sometimes try to absorb heat from blacktop roads. Even young rattlesnakes are venomous.
Poison oak is common throughout Catalina’s canyons and creek beds. Stay on established trails and wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts. If you brush against poison oak, wash the affected area as soon as possible with a poison oak cleanser, (e.g. Tecnu) or soap and water.
Make sure to carry an ample supply of water with you at all times. Water is only available at a few, select locations in the Interior (see reverse side of map for locations).
Be advised that cellular telephone service may not available in the interior of the Island. It is recommended you hike with a companion.