This 11.75-mile hike over the ridges above Avalon offers amazing ocean views, in two directions at times, as well as a look at the pristine interior of the island. Those staying at Hermit Gulch Campground are already at the trailhead for the C-shaped loop. Otherwise, from the center of Avalon, walk a mile up Avalon Canyon Road to get to the campground. Just past the campground, turn right on Hermit Gulch Trail. A sigh here notes the access to the Trans-Catalina Trail. This 1.7-mile long single trail climbs some 1,200 feet to a junction with East Road (a fire road straddling the divide at the southern end of Catalina Island). Hermit Gulch Trail is the steepest part of the hike. Luckily that effort is rewarded by expanding ocean views. The top of the trail offers a breathtaking look over Avalon and the channel beyond.
Turn left and start down East Road (Trans-Catalina Trail), where you will be greeted by another ocean view, this one facing west. Look left. Look right. It’s the big blue in both directions.
A footpath breaks off the road to the left, accompanied by a sign marked “Avalon.” Indeed one could descent here to the Botanical Gardens below for a shorter 6.25-mile loop. But the views only improve on East Road, so why turn back now?
The fire road meanders southward, undulating along the ridge, but never becoming as steep as Hermit Gulch Trail. Simply stay on the fire road as it climbs to an elevation of 1600 feet. The bi-coastal views are extraordinary.
The road bends to the east and heads down to an old junction. Take the fire road heading uphill to the left to stay on the Trans-Catalina Trail, now Renton Mine Road. The road heads north toward Avalon and winds its way down to the sea. When the trail ends at the paved Wrigley Road, one can turn either left or right to return to Avalon.
Turning left, the trail climbs up to Wrigley Terrace passing the Inn on Mount Ada before dropping into Avalon.
Turning right, the road descends to the industrial sector of Avalon. At road’s end, turn left on Pebbly Beach Road and follow the shoreline back to Avalon. The road passes Lover’s Cove before coming to the port and the city of Avalon.
This long island hike is easy to follow and provides breathtaking views of the southern end of Catalina Island.
A free permit is required to hike on Catalina Island. To obtain a permit, visit the Catalina Island Conservancy on Clarissa Street (located at the starting point on the GPS trace below).
To get to the trailhead: Take a ferry 22-miles across the Pacific to the city of Avalon on Catalina Island. Walk through town and up Avalon Canyon Road to Hermit Gulch Campground and the start of the trail.
Trailhead address: 125 Claressa Avenue, Avalon, CA 90704
Trailhead coordinates: 33.342405, -118.324922 (33° 20′ 32.65″N 118° 19′ 29.71″W)
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