20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island
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20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

Catalina Island is located 30 miles from coast of Southern California, making it a great option for a spectacular weekend getaway. What many visitors don't know is that Catalina has a network of trails that cover the 22 mile long island. Here are 20 photos from hikes I've done that I hope will make you want to get out and enjoy the trails of Catalina Island!

Catalina Island is located 30 miles from coast of Southern California, making it a great option for a spectacular weekend getaway. Most visitors arrive in the main city of Avalon to enjoy the island’s beaches, restaurants, hotels, and water activities. What many visitors don’t know is that Catalina has a network of trails that cover the 22 mile long island. The most popular is the Trans-Catalina Trail that give hikers a chance to see the island in it’s entirety. At 37.5 miles, the hiking the Trans-Catalina Trail is no easy feat. Luckily, you can section hike it and enjoy shorter hikes out of Avalon, Little Harbor, and Two Harbors. I hike in California just about every weekend, and few places compare to Catalina. On these island trails you’ll see bison, island foxes, ocean views, and rolling green hills for miles on end. Here are 20 photos from my hikes that I hope will make you want to get out and enjoy the trails of Catalina Island!


1.) Waking up early to hike on Catalina Island usually means spectacular views of the morning inversion. With trails that offer up nonstop views of the Pacific Ocean, you can watch the inversion burn off and then roll back in as the sun begins to set. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

2.) In 1924, 14 bison were brought to Catalina Island for the shooting of a movie. When the movie crew made their final cut, they left the bison behind. At it’s peak, the heard of bison roaming the island reached a number close to 600. In 1972, the Catalina Island Conservancy was formed. They now manage a herd in the range of 150-200 bison to keep the island optimal for all native and non native species. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

3.) Little Harbor is my favorite place to camp on Catalina Island. From campsite 11, you can exit your tent and walk right out onto the sand of the harbor. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

4.) The trail between Little Harbor and Two Harbors is my favorite on the entire Trans-Catalina trail. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

5.) For those looking to take a nice day hike from Avalon, the Hermit Gulch Trail is one of my favorites. This trail climbs out of Avalon, providing views of the city and ocean with every step upward. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

6.) Part of my hiking ethos has been to “never miss a sunrise”. It started for me while hiking Camino de Santiago for practical reasons like avoiding the heat of the afternoon and maximizing the time in each day. What I quickly realized is that few moments in a day capture the beauty of life quite like daybreak. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

7.) Parson’s Landing is a stunning primitive campsite on the northwest tip of Catalina Island. There are only 8 sites on this stretch of beach, giving campers a sense of solitude as they look out towards the coast of California. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

8.) Two Harbors is the main town located on the northwest side of the island. It’s much smaller than the well known Avalon, and receives fewer visitors. This is a great place to camp if you want access to a restaurant, beaches, small shops, and water activities. You can pick up the Trans-Catalina Trail from Two Harbors, or walk along the coastal dirt road to Parson’s Landing. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

9.) Camping at Two Harbors is a lot of fun. The Catalina rangers drop the firewood off at your site, making it easy to get camp started. From this campsite on the hill, we had ocean views from our tent. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

10.) In 2015, I hiked the entirety of the Trans-Catalina trail. When I reached this 36 mile marker, I knew there was only one mile left until I reached the final destination of Starlight Beach. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

11.) Most of the time the Catalina bison can be spotted from far away. On this hike, I stumbled across this bison near Haypress Station. I was foolish and got close for a picture. The branch in the foreground made a snapping noise as I stepped on it, and the bison gave a feigning charge. Lesson learned. Keep your distance. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

12.) Watching the sunset from your tent while camping at Little Harbor. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

13.) In the early stages the Trans-Catalina trail, you’ll get views of Avalon. In this shot you can see the morning inversion hovering over Avalon on the right. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

14.) On a few spots on the island, the trail gives hikers views to both the east and west coasts. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

15.) Life can be harsh on the island. This was taken during a severe year of drought. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

16.) Sometimes you just have to pinch yourself. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

17.) Many people don’t know that Catalina has an airport. The Airport in the Sky was opened in 1946 after leveling two mountain tops and filling in a canyon to create a 3200ft runway. The Trans-Catalina Trail takes hikers to the Airport in the Sky just after visiting the historic Catalina Island soapstone quarry. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

18.) If you’re going to be hiking to the Airport in the Sky, you have to step inside and visit the DC-3 Gifts & Grill. You can check out the menu here, or take my advice and go with the bison burger!

20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

19.) With coastal cholla and prickly pear, the cacti on the island are abundant. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

20.) Hiking from Little Harbor to Two Harbor on the Trans-Catalina Trail takes some serious uphill hiking. Once you’ve reached this rest area, you’ll know that all of the hard work is behind you, and you only have a downhill stroll to the harbor in front of you. 20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island


Make sure to check out my guide to hiking the Trans-Catalina Trail!

Trans-Catalina Trail Guide

I'm Drew, creator of Trail to Peak. Trail to Peak brings content to life on the web through breath-taking photography and captivating video. I launched Trail to Peak in 2014 with a goal to inspire readers to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. I have traveled to 19 countries, walked Camino de Santiago, hiked the John Muir Trail, trekked through the Andes of Peru, and am constantly seeking new adventures in my home state of California. Joining me on my weekly adventures is my partner, Julia, our son, Owen, and our two goldendoodles, Isla and Lilly.

4 comments on “20 Photos That Will Make You Want Hike Around Catalina Island

  1. Great overview, not to mention the stunning pics!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yup, this post and your photos definitely make we want to hike around Catalina Island. It has been on my list since you first introduced me to this great place. Hopefully soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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