Overview: Up for a short hike with a big payoff? Try the Garden to Sky Hike using the Memorial Road and Hermit Gulch trail. You can make the... more »
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Up for a short hike with a big payoff? Try the Garden to Sky Hike using the Memorial Road and Hermit Gulch trail. You can make the... more » round trip in just a couple of hours and be back in time for whatever your Avalon plans may be.
The trail head can be accessed via the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden located at the top of Avalon Canyon, a 1.75 mile walk up the road from town. You can also catch a ride on the city's trolley or the Catalina Island Conservancy's Wilderness Express (310-510-0143) from the Transportation Plaza for only a few bucks per person.
Entering via the garden gives individuals in your group with different goals or needs the option to hike the graded road to the top or simply relax at the garden and wait for their party to return. Or you can do the loop and meet up with the gang at the Hermit Gulch Campground on the way back to town.
The trail is one of the best entry-level hikes on the island with phenomenal views being your reward for a moderate level of effort. less «
The Wrigley Botanic Garden is a great place to start your hike. Here you'll have an introduction to the plant life on Catalina. It's also a great place if you have family with different hiking interests. Some can explore the garden while others continue with the loop.
The idea for a garden came from Mr. Wrigley's wife, Ada. In 1935, she... More supervised Pasadena horticulturalist Albert Conrad, who planted the original Desert Plant Collection. Santa Catalina Island's temperate marine climate made it possible to showcase plants from every corner of the Earth.
Today, the garden places a special emphasis on California island endemic plants, plants that grow naturally on one or more of the California islands, but nowhere else in the world. Keep your eyes open for a family of Catalina quail who have made the garden home.
Obtain your Hiking Permit online and at the garden kiosk. Also, be sure to review Cautions and Policies before heading out on your adventure.Less
The Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden is a true destination in its own right. Adding these features to your day hike makes for a truly memorable experience.
The Wrigley Memorial honors the memory of William Wrigley Jr., who lived from 1861 to 1932. Although best known as the founder of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, largest manufacturer of... More chewing gum in the world, he also played an instrumental role in the history of Santa Catalina Island. He truly loved the island, and with undying enthusiasm and energy, he brought numerous improvements: public utilities, new steamships, a hotel, the Casino building and extensive plantings of trees, shrubs and flowers. William Wrigley Jr.'s greatest legacy was his remarkable vision and plan for the future of Santa Catalina Island -- that it remain protected for all generations to enjoy.Less
Soon you will enter a steep section of the trail with several switchbacks. The plant life will change dramatically. Take a moment here to notice the deep greens of several native shrubs including Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) with bright red berries in the fall, Lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia), and Island redberry (Rhamnus pirifolia), a... More Channel Islands endemic.Less
The sharp needles of the prickly pear cactus, Opuntia littoralis, shimmer in the afternoon sun next to the Memorial Road at the beginning of the Garden to Sky Hike. The neon-colored fruit of the nopales cactus tastes a little bit like watermelon. The juice from the fruit is used to make jam and vinaigrettes. The Catalina Island fox loves to dine... More on its sweet fruit as well and apparently doesn’t mind the tiny spines. You will, though, if you happen to brush up against it. So, be careful!Less
On the side of the road is a twisted skeleton of a burnt oak tree, a vestige of the 2007 fire that burned more than 4,750 acres. Many of the plants that were destroyed by flames have risen from the scorched land leaving this one to stand-alone on the hillside.
In the foreground of this picture is the inflorescence, a cluster of flowers, on a stem of white sage (Salvia apiana) and in the background you can see the windward side of Catalina Island. If it were a clear enough day, you might see San Clemente Island, another California Channel Island.
Special thanks to Gary T. Goodgame for his support of the... More Catlaina Island Conservancy trails program.Less
The Divide Road seemingly goes on forever. It's about a mile or more to the Hermit Gulch trail head from where you turned right off of the Memorial Road at the top of Avalon Canyon. It'll be several more bends in the trail before you get there. Keep going!
On a clear day you can see both sides of the Island from this vantage point. Across the channel you can see the Santa Monica, San Bernardino, and San Gabriel Mountains.
In the top reaches of the hike you'll see a few plants with strong scents that are characteristic of the coastal sage scrub plant community. They are: White sage (Salvia apiana)... More with wide whitish leaves, black sage (Salvia mellifera) that has smaller narrow green leaves with a bumpy surface, and California sagebrush (Artemisia californica) with tiny leaves.Less
This common side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana) suns itself on a rock next to the trail head to Hermit Gulch. Beneath it is a plaque quoting Captain Eddie Harrison, a Catalina legend. He was the father of actor Gregory Harrison and captain of a popular sightseeing glass-bottom boat in Avalon. It is said that every so often, the captain would... More free dive into the ocean to feed the fish under the boat, much to the delight of his guests sitting above.Less
In late 1999, an outbreak of distemper virus caused the Catalina Island fox (Urocyon littoralis catalinae) population to plummet from about 1300 to just 100 animals. In 2000, the Catalina Island Conservancy and its partner, the Institute for Wildlife Studies, implemented the Catalina Island Fox Recovery Plan. The plan combined relocation,... More vaccinations, captive breeding and release, and wild fox population monitoring. Today the population is nearing it's pre-crash numbers but remains listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The video posted here is of a fox rescue that took place in March 2010. You'll be able to hear a fox bark and watch our biologists as they first rescue and then give the two foxes a checkup before they're released back into the wild.Less
In this area you will be greeted by a dense tunnel of shrubs. The plant life here looks very different from what you had seen a few switchbacks ago. This section of the trail is dominated by non-native invasive plants, including Flax-leaved broom (Genista linifolia), French broom (Genista monspessulana) and fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). Also be... More wary of California blackberry (Rubus ursinus) and poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) found growing beneath the shrubs. Remember that poison oak comes in green and red. Need a refresher? Study the picture here!Less
Your hike concludes at the Hermit Gulch Campground. Hang a right and you'll be back at the entrance of the garden go left and you'll be in town very soon.