Airport in the Sky to Little Harbor (backpack)

SA Report: Island time - Day 1

Trip Date: 4/18/2014

Location: Santa Catalina Island - Trans-Catalina Trail

Permit/Pass: Hiking Permit (free) required

Transportation to the island: Catalina Express - 800-481-3470

Avalon to Airpot in the Sky: Safari Bus - (310) 510-4205

Campground reservation: Little Harbor - (310) 510-8368

Trails: Catalina Conservancy map, Catalina Island Explorer map


This trip begins at Airport in the Sky (shuttle from Avalon) on Catalina Island and ends in Two Harbors. Transportation to the island should be arranged with drop-off in Avalon and pick-up in Two Harbors. For us this meant mainland departure from the San Pedro Catalina Express docks, but there may be other options available.

After transport to, and drop off in, Avalon, work your way along the waterfront to the main area of town. Look for Catalina Ave. and head up a few blocks to the Island Plaza area where you'll find a departure point for several island transportation services (reservations are recommended, especially during the weekend and high season). The ride up to the airport lasts about 45 minutes.

Trail sequence: Airport Rd. / El Rancho Escondido Rd. / Airport Loop (Trans-Catalina Trail) / Sheep Chute (Trans-Catalina Trail) / Little Harbor campground access

Type: Point (boat drop-off) to point (campsite)

Distance: 5.5 miles

Elevation: Min. -  0', Max. - 1602'


Rating: Easy-Moderate (factors: heat, steep sections)

Synopsis: If you've got the time, take advantage of the surprisingly good DC-3 Grill at the airport before heading out on the hike. Then you head down toward Little Harbor on a long descent with plenty of nice views of both sides of the island (given clear skies). Little Harbor is a beautiful destination, stay for more than one night if you can.


Airport in the Sky to Little Harbor - Santa Catalina Island

Turn by Turn:

  -- Head back out the airport entrance and down a few yards to a junction with El Rancho Escondido Rd. (also the Trans-Catalina Trail for a short section).

  -- Turn right (west) at the trailhead sign and hike for about a third of a mile at which point you should notice, and take, a signed single-track path heading off to the right. This is the Airport Loop Trail.

  -- The trail circles around to the north and connects with another dirt road (Empire Landing Rd.). Turn left (west) and follow the road to a fork. The left path is Sheep Chute Rd. This is the trail to Little Harbor. Take the left fork.

  -- After a long descent - be sure to follow the Trans-Catalina markers and signs - during most of which you can see Little Harbor - you come to another fork at a junction with Little Harbor Rd. Take the right fork and then after a few yards take the left path at another fork. This will lead you down to the beach campsites, passing some hillside sites along the way.


Site type: Campground

Restrooms - Porta-potties Grill/Fire pit - Integrated (reserve firewood w/campsite)   
ShowersBeach showers (cold) Seating - Picnic tables
Water - Faucets (potable) Shade - Patio covers

Aesthetics/Privacy/Cleanliness: We stayed in site #9, which was spacious and had some minimal privacy. The one downside was the trash and recycling cans placed next to the tables and cover. The cans smelled and badly needed to be emptied. Next time we would try for one of the sites directly adjacent to the beach.


Photo Gallery: Flickr

Video: Youtube