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“Amazing Hike, Fantastic Scenery, Good for Experienced Hikers” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Trans-Catalina Trail

Trans-Catalina Trail
Renton Mine Road, Catalina Island, CA
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Owner description: The Trans-Catalina Trail stretches 37.2 miles from the Renton Mine Trailhead on the East End to Starlight Beach on the West End. It winds up hills and down valleys offering spectacular views across the 43,000-acre Nature Preserve of the Catalina Island Conservancy known as Catalina's wildlands. The picture is of Parsons Landing.
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
24 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“Amazing Hike, Fantastic Scenery, Good for Experienced Hikers”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 7, 2012

We did this hike last year in July. Our Trans-Catalina adventure was a 2 night backpacking trip which started from Avalon. We got in the earliest boat to leave for Catalina on Friday, docked around 7:30ish at Avalon and started the trail immediately from Avalon. From Avalon to Blackjack Campground it's no so difficult. I mean it's strenuous...but it's not that bad. Hiking this time of year it's important to watch out for poison oak that loomed around the trail where Hermitt Gulch Camoground is and at times, they are very hard to notice so yes be mindful and KEEP IN MIND the saying: "Leaves of three, leave it be". Or at least that's how the saying went. Reached Blackjack Campground around 5pm. So as you can see between 7:30-5pm is a pretty long 14 mile hike. Besides me and my husband there was only another group of 5 backpackers on the trail and that was it.

Blackjack Campground-Airport in the Sky: This hike consisted of a very easy 2 mile hike. Got up at 8am, had breakfast and left the campsite around 10:30. Got to Airport in the Sky around noon and obviously we had to try the Bison Burger. Hung out here for about an hour, rested our feet, had some awesome chocolate chip peanut butter cookie (also bought another one for the road as a motivator) and we were on our way).

Airport in the Sky-Little Harbor Campground: This consisted of a 5.5 mile hike, and this is where the fun begins. From Airport in the sky you're on a trail for approx 1 or 1.5 miles then you hit a dirt road but don't let this fool you. This road is a downhill climb. It's definitely necessary to have trekking poles or your knees will hurt like crazy. Every now and then you get an uphill break and it goes back downhill. From then on to LIttle Harbor Campground, your hike is pretty flat.

Little Harbor Campground-2 Harbors. So here you have a choice: 1) take the 7 mile dirt road to 2 Harbors which is easier but it'll take you longer OR 2) take the Ridge Line Trail which is 4.5 miles to 2 Harbors BUT it's a lot more difficult. Seriously...if you start early enough and have plenty of time, TAKE THE RIDGE LINE TRAIL. You will never forget the view. The ocean will always be to your left and although the hills are steep and I mean pretty steep, the huffing and puffing is worth the spectacular scenery. Reached 2 Harbors by 7pm and there was enough daylight to pitch tent and eat dinner.

All in all we did 26 miles of the Trans-Catalina's 37 miles and we plan on coming back to finish it off. If it had not been for the obvious work schedule, it would have been epic to do the whole trail. ***NOTE*** Although they say that the Trans-Catalina is 37 miles you still have to backtrack to get back to 2 Harbors and take a boat ride back to the mainland which makes this grand total of a little over 53 miles. Unless you're rich and happen to have your own boat waiting for you on the other side of the island. :o)


1) Carry light, I cannot stress this enough. I think my 24 lbs pack was too heavy so now I know to be an ultralight hiker.
2) Cut out what's not necessary. Moleskin, tylenol, bandages ARE necessary.
3) Don't count miles. You start counting and you start getting discouraged

Hmmm that's it for now. Since I'm writing this a few hours after getting back from the Catalina means I was pretty stoked about this backpacking trip so photos to come shortly!

Visited August 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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9 reviews from our community

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English first
San Diego, California
Level Contributor
136 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
“Spectacular views and hike”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 17, 2011

My husband and I planned to go on a hike from the Catalina Airport to Avalon on the Trans Catalina Trail.. We took a bus to the airport the day before to scope out the environment. The road to the airport is not much of a travelled road by tourists because driving is limited with permits. It is primarily used by locals and tour buses. We had acquired the necessary hiking permits online and made a 7:30 am reservation to get to the airport by taxi and start the hike. We decided to ask our driver to drop us off just short of airport where we could reach the trail. We then hiked toward Avalon and took the Divide Trail that circles the ridge line of mountains around Avalon. We had a small map and the trail signs were adequate. The weather was perfect except for fog creeping up from the opposite side of Avalon that blocked seeing the ocean on the other side of the island but kept us cool on the hike. We hiked to the East End down to Pebbly Beach. The walk was easy and it went moderately up and down in elevation. The last hour was primarily downhill. We hiked about 11 miles, five hours and not once did we see another human being. We startled a Catalina fox on its hunt for dove and buffalo moved about in one area. We saw lots of wildlife tracks. This was a peaceful hike and the views of Avalon Bay were spectacular. Take water and snacks as there are no facilties. I had cell reception and would recommend taking a cell phone.

Visited September 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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