Little Harbor to Two Harbors (backpack)

SA Report: Island time - Day 2

Trip Date: 4/19/2014

Location: Santa Catalina Island - Trans-Catalina Trail

Permit/Pass: Hiking Permit (free) required

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

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

Trails: Catalina Conservancy mapCatalina Island Explorer map

Directions: This backpacking trip begins at Airport in the Sky (shuttle from Avalon) on Catalina Island and ends in Two Harbors. Transportation to and from 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 arrival in Two Harbors, find the pier and the visitor information services office at its beginning. Boarding takes place out on the pier.

Trail sequence: Trans-Catalina Trail (Little Harbor to Two Harbors)

Type: Point (campsite) to point (boat pick-up)

Distance: 5.5 miles

Elevation: Min. -  0', Max. - 1239'


Rating: Moderate-Difficult (factors: heat, steep sections, rocky trail)

Synopsis: This is a hike that is a bit of work, but all except the last dusty half-mile or so is well worth the effort. The Big Sur-like views are spectacular and frequent as you climb steadily out of Little Harbor. Keep an eye out for introduced bison and always watch for rattlesnakes.

Track: Little Harbor to Two Harbors - Santa Catalina Island

Turn by Turn:

  -- At the northwestern end of the campground pick up the signed Trans-Catalina Trail leaving the road in somewhat unceremonious fashion by circling behind a restroom before beginning a series of switchbacks up to an overlook of Little Harbor.

  -- After about 2.8 miles, and just following a steep ascent, there is a ramada with some benches. This is a good spot, with great views, to drop packs and rest your dogs for a bit. From here on it's mostly downhill, though some sections are steep.

  -- The trail is fairly straightforward and well-marked all the way to the gate about a mile and a half outside of Two Harbors. As you approach the isthmus there are a few unmarked forks, but it's pretty hard not to end up in the little town if you've got any sense of direction at all. Just find your way along one of the dirt roads and turn to the northeast toward the beach when you're in the vicinity.

  -- Boat pick-up is at the pier, and there are restrooms, showers, a general store and one restaurant (with a good lunch grill).

Site type: Campground

Restrooms - Porta-potties Grill/Fire pit - Integrated (reserve firewood w/campsite)   
Showers - Beach 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