General Hike Overview:
The Trans-Catalina Hiking Trail is a scenic and challenging trail that runs throughout Catalina Island. This blog post details the section of the trial that runs from Two Harbors to Little Harbor Campground, which is approximately a 11-12 mile roundtrip hike. Due to the arduous (tough) hilly terrain that cuts back and forth between various hills in Catalina, the Trans-Catalina Trail is for experienced hikers. There are no water or aid stations along the trail, so make sure to come prepared (plus, we saw no other hikers on the hike)! Although challenging, the Trans-Catalina trail is one of the most scenic coastal hikes in all of California.
The first section of the trail passes the historic Banning House, which was built in 1910 as the summer home of the Banning Brothers who owned Santa Catalina Island in the early Twentieth Century. After the Banning House, the trail continues up one the first of several hills along the hike. The first hill provides panoramic views of Two Harbors. After approximately two miles, the trail divides into the Banning House Road and Trans-Catalina Trail, a single-track trail. Continue on the Trans-Catalina trail for unobstructed ocean views of Catalina’s western coastline. The cliffs and deep blue ocean reminded us of Hawaii.
Throughout the hike look for Catalina’s beautiful wildlife, including Bald Eagles, Catalina Island Fox, and the charismatic Catalina Island Bison. Depending on your hiking experience, you may want to break or turn around at any section of the Trans-Catalina trail. The entire hiking trail consists of rolling hills, which make it a constant physical challenge for even the most well-conditioned hikers.
Depending on the desired hiking distance, allow 3-6 hours for the hike.
Hiking permits are required. They are free and available online.
Because of the uphill terrain and continuous hills, the ocean views and island scenery from the trail are incredible! Definitely bring your camera. The hills also created a very challenging hike, which we rewarded ourselves with Buffalo Milk. 😉
View Trans-Catalina Hiking Trail in a larger map
To Two Harbors From Los Angeles/Orange County/San Diego
- Catalina Express: Two Harbors is accessible by the Catalina Express from San Pedro, CA. San Pedro is the only port that offers direct boat fares from California’s mainland. The schedule varies depending on the time of year. Fares typically cost $36.25 (one way) /$72.50 (round-trip) for adults, 12-54 years-old. Reservations are recommended.
To Two Harbors From Avalon
- Safari Bus: If you want to visit Two Harbors from Avalon, The Safari Bus offers ground transportation to Avalon. One way fairs are $32/adults. For the Safari Bus’ schedule and reservation information, click here.
What to Bring:
- Hiking Permit
- 150-175 oz. of water
- Camelbak 50 oz Hydration Pack
- Sunscreen SPF 30
- Trail snacks
- First Aid Kit
- Cell phone
When to Go:
- Morning: Due to the Trans-Catalina Trail’s grueling terrain, it is recommended to start this hike in the early morning hours when the island’s weather is generally cooler. During the spring and early summer months, a marina layer is common in the morning.
- Fall/Winter: Temperatures during the late spring and summer months can reach 80-90 degrees along the Trans-Catalina trail. Therefore, it is recommended to enjoy the Trans-Catalina hiking trail in the Fall and Winter months when the temperatures can be in the low 60s.
How the Trail Looks:
- Yes, on leashes and depending on your dog’s physical experience. Dog treats are highly recommended.
- Barry-the-Bear: “This hike was too extreme for me. I stopped after the first hill and just enjoyed the views of Two Harbors, then retreated to the Harbor Reef Restaurant for their famous Buffalo Milk! I’m definitely going to spend more time on the stair master, before I try this hike again.”
- Larry-the-Lion: “Wow! My-oh-my! This hike really made me ROAR. Not only were the views incredible, but the terrain was challenging. We hiked 6 miles round-trip and enjoyed every inch of the trail! It’s been 3 days since the hike and my calves are still sore.”
- Chris-the-Cheetah: “Oh yeah! I thought this hike was going to be cheetah walk, but it was more of a cheetah crawl. I made it to Little Harbor campground and back to Two harbors, but it was grueling. I’m glad I brought plenty of water, an apple, and a Cliff Bar.”