Native Americans, explorers, and trappers have all blazed trails on Catalina. A network of horse trails from the time of cattle and sheep ranching on the Island exist as well. Many of these "original" trails were undoubtedly converted to the Island’s modern road and trail system.
But now, for the first time, hikers will be able to travel virtually the entire length of the Island on a dedicated walking path – the 37.2-mile-long "Trans-Catalina Trail." Cyclists will also be able to enjoy nearly the entire lengths of the Island, using multi-use portions of the Trail and alternate routes.
The eastern most trail head is the Renton Mine Trail that begins east of the town of Avalon. Once up on the Divide Road, hikers have a bald eagle’s eye view both sides of the Island. Continuing on past the Haypress Recreation Area, hikers are treated two sweeping views of Middle Canyon and Cape Canyon before reaching the beautiful Black Jack Campground. From Blackjack Campground, the trail leads hikers through Cottonwood Canyon to the Airport in the Sky where refreshments and supplies can be enjoyed before the downhill trek down Sheep Chute Canyon to the Little Harbor Campgrounds overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the windward side of the Island.
The Trans-Catalina Trail continues north to the colorful boating community of Two Harbors at the Island’s isthmus. There hikers can take advantage of the campgrounds at Two Harbors, or even splurge on a hot meal at the restaurant, or pick up more supplies at the general store.
The trail continues west through the heart of the West End where hikers can enjoy the magnificent solitude that this part of the Island evokes. Trail’s end is at remote Starlight Beach
"The Trans-Catalina Trail represents a new level of access to the Island’s interior for hikers and campers who enjoy the beauty and solitude of Catalina’s wild lands," said Ann Muscat, Conservancy President and CEO. "This new route across the Island will provide the Conservancy with many opportunities to share the Island’s story with the public, "she said. "The Trans-Catalina Trail is the Island’s gift to hikers and nature lovers alike."
Muscat added, "Whether hikers walk the entire 37.2 miles in three or four days, or just one or two sections, they will have a renewed appreciation of the Island’s natural resources."
The opening of the Trail will also be celebrated Saturday, May 2, at the 14th Annual Catalina Island Conservancy Ball which is themed: "Take A Hike!" The decor will give those in attendance a feeling of being on the Trans-Catalina Trail all the while they are dining and dancing in the Casino Ballroom in Avalon.
Along the Trail, hikers will experience sweeping vistas of both sides of the Island and be challenged by Catalina’s rugged terrain. They will have a very good chance to see herds of bison that are fascinating to watch – from a distance and all manner of endemic and native birds and animals including the Beechy ground squirrel, Catalina quail, Catalina Island fox and bald eagles.
There are several places to comfortably camp along the way including Black Jack Campground at an elevation of 1,500 feet, Little Harbor Campground with its beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean, Two Harbors Campground at the Isthmus, and remote Parsons Landing on the Island’s west end.
Kevin Ryan, Conservancy Trails Supervisor, said that the original design layout for the Trans- Catalina Trail took into consideration existing bison trails that were surveyed for suitable routes between campgrounds. These routes were designed keeping in mind topography, soil types, erosion problems, fragile habitats, sensitive species, scenic value, safety factors, invasive plant issues, and unique historical, cultural, and environmental features.
Aiding Ryan in the Trail’s construction were summer interns, Island students from the Rose Ellen Gardner Internship program, many volunteer groups and the Conservancy’s Facilities Department.
All hikers into the Island’s interior must have a hiking permit. Hiking permits are free, and may be picked up at Conservancy House, 125 Clarissa Street in Avalon, at the Airport in the Sky, and at the Visitor’s Center at Two Harbors. Camping reservations can be made by calling (310) 510-8368 (a $10 service fee applies) or visiting our website, click on "Recreation" and then on "Catalina Camping."
For information on tickets, sponsorship or donating auction items for the Catalina Island Conservancy Ball "Take A Hike" on Saturday, May 2, please visit our website and click on "Conservancy Ball."
For more information visit www.CatalinaConservancy.org