Catalina Island Avalon Hike Hermit Gulch Trail - Trans-Catalina Trail Loop California

Take an 11.75-mile hike over the ridges above Avalon on Hermit Gulch Trail – Trans-Catalina Trail Loop, gathering amazing ocean views, in two directions at times, as well as perspectives over the pristine interior of the island. This hike offers a scenic loop on picturesque southeast end of Santa Catalina 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 sign 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.

Catalina Island Hike
A view from Hermit Gulch Trail

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 west coast of Catalina
The west coast of Avalon

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.

Catalina Island Hike
Looking down on Avalon and the snow capped mountains on the mainland

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: 33.3424, -118.32495 (33° 20′ 32.6″N 118° 19′ 29.8″W)

Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.
Trail Map

View Catalina Island in a larger map
Or view a regional map of surrounding Los Angeles trails and campgrounds.


Catalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island HikeCatalina Island Hike

These photos were taken in January of 2010. Click to enlarge.
Similar Trail
Point Mugu State Park hike La Jolla Canyon Loop
This 11.75-mile hike explores Point Mugu State Park on the west end of the Santa Monica Mountains, offering extraordinary ocean views.
Parker Mesa Overlook Trail Parker Mesa Overlook
This steep out-and-back hike rewards the effort with excellent views of the Pacific Ocean.
Sandstone PeakTrail Sandstone Peak
This 6.25-mile loop summits the tallest peak in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Zuma Ridge Trail Zuma Ridge Trail
This wide dirt service road which weaves northwest up the back of the ridge west of Zuma Canyon offering access to several trails in the area.
Mount Baldy Trail More trails in Los Angeles
Explore other destinations around Los Angeles.
hermit gulch campground Hermit Gulch Campground
This 43-site campground on the edge of Avalon sits at the base of Hermit Gulch Trail.
OK! Add to trails I’ve hiked
OK! Add to trails I want to hike
Tagged with · Catalina Island · Free Trails · Ocean Views
Distance: 11.75 miles · Elevation change: 1600 feet

Ask a question or share your experience

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Go the extra miles...
Submit a rating of this hike to go with your comment. Contribute to the average trail rating.

5 Comments on Hermit Gulch Trail – Trans-Catalina Trail Loop on Santa Catalina Island

  1. […] Hermit Gulch Trail – Trans-Catalina Trail Loop | Catalina Island … […]

  2. Jeff Hester wrote:

    I hiked the entire Trans Catalina Trail back in the spring. Springtime is probably the best possible time to do this. It’s not too hot and everything is very green. The wildflowers were insane!

    The entire TCT is a tough trek. Lots of up and down. But really beautiful.

  3. Brian Nilsen wrote:

    Thanks for the idea on the trail route, the wife and I did it for our third anniversary this past weekend. On the downside, the highest points of the hike were up in the clouds, so we didn’t get to have the amazing views, but on the plus side we ran across our first rattlesnake. I’m looking forward to doing it again on a clear day!

  4. Rhonda wrote:

    Approximately how long does it take to do the Garden to Sky Loop walking to and from Avalon? The permit says it is 5 miles, but I’m not sure how long that might take. Is the trail rigorous? Also, what kind of shoes, clothing would be required in May. I’m guessing hiking boots or tennis shoes, and layers of clothing for weather changes.

    • hikespeak wrote:

      Whatever you would normally wear hiking is fine. The road leaving Avalon is easy to walk along. There’s some good elevation on the loop, but the trails aren’t too rigorous. You could certainly do the hike in a few hours.