I woke to the smell of morning dew and the chilled droplets of condensation that had accelerated and fallen off of the sloped walls of our tent. After an incredible 20 miles of hiking on the Trans-Catalina the previous day, it took me a while to shake the depths of my dreams. I looked over at Julia who was still sleeping, but decided to get up and eat some breakfast anyway. Shortly after I unzipped the tent, she was stirring and ready to start the day. A marine layer sat heavy on the inlet of Little Harbor, but was quickly burning off with the arrival of the Sunday morning sunrise. I mixed up a bowl of instant oatmeal and paired it with some instant coffee. I don’t really know why, but I love to eat my breakfasts cold.
After breakfast, Julia and I broke camp and got our backpacks ready for the 5 mile hike to Two Harbors. Looking back on our full hike of the Trans-Catalina Trail from last year, this was my favorite stretch of the entire journey. I was bouncing with excitement to see this part of the trail once again. The sun had burned off much of the fog from the cold of the morning, but a second wave was quickly sweeping in. By the time we made our way back to the TCT, we were awash in the magical mist of Catalina Island.
The first mile of trail from Little Harbor gains at a pretty steep clip, which was quite welcome, as it took us up and out of the fog below. Once we climbed up above 450ft of elevation, there were blue skies above, green all around, and blanket of white below. A part of me wished I could look down and see the deep sapphire of the Pacific Ocean, but this backdrop was more than enough to keep me satisfied.
The uphill climb out of Little Harbor is deceptive as it’s comprised of three separate uphill sections. The first two come fast and steady, but the steepness of the third climb really calls your leg strength into questions. The final climb is well worth the effort though, as hikers are rewarded with a shaded bench providing some of the best views on Catalina Island. Once you reach Two Harbors, most of the trails are on the northeast side of the island, this is your chance to take in the side of the island facing west.
After taking a nice break at the shaded bench, we made our way towards Two Habors and enjoyed the hike downhill. Julia and I had a ferry to catch in the late afternoon, but realized we had 5 hours until we needed to arrive at the dock. As we approached the center of town in Two Harbors we began to discuss how we wanted to spend the rest of our time. Our conversation was interrupted when we saw what we thought to be a goldendoodle running around up ahead. Having two mini-goldendoodles, we always love to meet other pet parents of this friendly breed. We found out that the goldendoodles name was Millie, and we also got to meet her parents, Dennis and Joni. Dennis and Joni were a huge inspiration to Julia and I, as they are living the exact life that we would love to be living.
After parting with Dennis, Joni, and Millie, Julia and I still were trying to put together a plan for our time in Two Harbor. We decided to clean up in the bathroom and then make a decision after. As fortune would have it, Joni came back over and asked if we’d like to sail back to Long Beach with them on their sailboat. I was in shock for a short while, and was humbled by such a kind offer. Taking the ferry from Long Beach to Catalina is nice, but the ferry is a huge boat packed with lots of people while flying across the ocean. Taking a sail boat would give us a chance to relax and really enjoy the channel between the mainland and Catalina. It probably goes without saying, but Julia and I accepted the gracious offer, and still can’t stop talking about what an awesome experience it was. Not only was the sailboat journey a trip I’ll never forget, we also loved the company of Dennis, Joni, and Millie. We exchanged contact info when we arrived at the Long Beach Harbor, and I have high hopes that we’ll be able to meet up again soon. After that sailboat ride, we owe them a nice dinner 🙂
28 thoughts on “Hiking From Little Harbor To Two Harbors On Catalina Island And Sailing Home”
Oh wow, incredible pictures. That shaded bench and the overlook looks absolutely glorious.
Nice report, one of my favorite campsites in Southern California is Little Harbor!
Thanks. Me too, it’s an incredible place to camp!
You’re a great writer! Loved this post. I’ll follow to see your adventures in the future 🙂
What a great ending to this hike. Trail angel’d off the island!
Trail angels are everywhere!
This would be an adventure I would enjoy.
Hopefully you can make it out to the island!
Awesome trip and great photos. This one is definitely on my list. Have you ever continued the hike past two harbors to the campgrounds at the north end of the island?
Thanks, Betsy! Last year we hiked up to Parson’s Landing and Starlight Beach. We couldn’t get a campsite at Parsons Landing, but I’m hoping to return to Catalina to camp there soon. It’s a beautiful spot!
Hiking above the fog like that must have been amazing. You have me pining for some hiking along the ocean somewhere. Truly stunning photos!
Thanks, Meghan! I love coastal hiking here in California. There are few vistas more breathtaking. I hope you can make it out to enjoy some similar views!
Looks beautiful!! starting in the mountains and ending up at the beach!!!
It’s a beautiful combination!
I love the pictures in this post and those dogs are adorable.
try to climbed Mt.Everst
Hiked all around Catalina last summer. Beautiful.
wow,, so Beautiful
My husband and I are planning on doing this hike later this month and then kayaking from Two Harbors to Avalon. Can I ask how long it took you two to hike from Little Harbor to Two Harbors? I’m trying to figure out a time to schedule the kayak pick up. Thanks in advance!
It took us about 2.5-3 hours, but we were moving pretty fast. Your trip sounds like a lot of fun. I’ve always wanted to kayak from Two Harbors to Avalon. Have fun!