Trans-Catalina Island Trek

Trip Length5 Days
Group Size4–16
Activity level
Starting from
$2,599 for REI Members
$2,859 for non-members
DeparturesJun 2024-Nov 2024

Spend 5 days on a supported adventure along one of the most spectacular trekking routes in the United States.

With jaw dropping views, warm pristine beaches, and prolific wildlife, Catalina Island offers up a world class hiking destination just off the coast of California. We traverse the gorgeous 38.5-mile Trans-Catalina Trail, traveling into the heart of the island's historic charm and rugged beauty. By day we hike the island's jaw-dropping inland and coastal trails. By night we dine on delicious meals while watching brilliant orange sunsets. And though the island's arid and sometimes rough terrain is not for the faint of heart, our supported trek eases the burden of carrying cumbersome overnight gear so we can hike with just the weight of our day packs.

From the moment you board the Catalina Express to our final minutes at a celebratory seaside barbecue lunch, the magic of trekking the Trans-Catalina Trail will leave you counting the days until your next visit.

Our expert guides take the stress and guess work out of your once-in-a-lifetime trip along the TCT.

Trip Highlights

  • Experience the freedom of long-distance hiking without the weight of overnight gear
  • Keep an eye out for bison, the Catalina Island fox, bald eagles and other wildlife
  • Hike 38.5 miles from the world-renowned town of Avalon to the peaceful village of Two Harbors
  • Watch the sun set over the Pacific from picturesque camp sites
  • Enjoy expansive views and ocean breezes along one of California's premier hiking trails

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate Plus [3-4] and is recommended for fit travelers with some experience. Participants will need to carry their own daypacks full of essentials and lunch items weighing 6-12 pounds over distances up to 11 miles with significant accumulative elevation gains/losses of up to 3,500' a day. Make sure your backpack is well-fitted to your body and that your hiking shoes are broken in before the trip. Most important to your enjoyment of the trip is your overall fitness level. To maximize your enjoyment of the trip, we strongly encourage a training regimen before the trip, that includes some long training hikes with a weighted pack.

  • Backpacking
  • Hiking

What's Included

All meals and snacks starting from lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 5; Gear haul service between camps; all campground fees; Professional guide services; Transportation during the course of the trip including ferry transportation to and from the island from San Pedro. See this trip's Gear List for details regarding any equipment that may be provided for your use during the trip.

Accommodations

Established campsites with facilities, 4 nights.

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for Trans-Catalina Island Trek
Day 1

Hop a ferry over to Catalina Island before hitting the trail

Meet your guides and fellow traveling companions at the San Pedro ferry terminal early this morning in preparation for our 1.25-hour sail to Catalina Island. We enjoy a relaxing ferry ride across the channel before arriving in Avalon, on the east side of the island. Once in Avalon we load all the group's luggage into a gear shuttle vehicle, which transports it to our first campsite at Black Jack Campground. Our guides will provide a brief orientation before setting out on trail. Once on trail our route to Black Jack camp offers an invigorating introduction to the days ahead. Wildflowers, cacti, grassy canyons, and sweeping views of the Pacific offer plentiful rewards along the challenging route. Lunch and dinner included.

Hiking: 10.7 miles on established trails with prolonged steep ascents and descents along a hot and exposed arid trail with little if any shade, Elevation gain/loss: +3,432' / -1,936

Day 2

Keep an eye out for bison, bald eagles, and Catalina fox in route to Little Harbor campground

After a hearty backcountry breakfast, we hit the trail for our next amazing camp. A good uphill jaunt brings us to the aptly named Airport in the Sky, which sits atop a 1,602' mountain in the center of the island. After a chance to rejuvenate here we set out on our trek across the sky as we make our way to our Little Harbor campsite. Along the way we search for resident wildlife, including the island's famous bison, which are common along this stretch of trail. We round out the day nestled into our site amid the palm trees overlooking the Pacific Ocean and finally lay our heads down to the peaceful sounds of the surf. All meals included.

Hiking: 8.3 miles on established trails with some steep ascents and descents. Although not a great deal of shade, hiking along this crest trail has amazing expansive views! Elevation gain/loss: +1,023' / -2,505'

Day 3

Never ending views of the Pacific Coast on our way to idyllic Two Harbors

A gradual ascent out of camp has us looking down on White Bluff, Fish Hook and the majesty that is the Pacific Ocean, as we continue our way along this epic ridge trail. Still on the lookout for the islands many indigenous residents, we pause to appreciate our effort and take in the 360 degrees of vistas that will dance in our imagination and fuel our wanderlust for many years to come. Traversing back across the island we once again catch glimpses of the east side of the island and a bit of civilization as we make our way down to our Two Harbors campsite. Enjoying the amazing guide prepared food and camaraderie of our new friends around a roaring campfire is a perfect end to the day. All meals included.

Hiking: 5.6 miles on established trails and roads, Elevation gain/loss: +1,550/-1,563

Day 4

Enjoy expansive views across Catalina Island along the Silver Peak trail

Today's hike travels along a spine winding through the west side of the island. The trail cuts through some of the most remote and peaceful terrain on Catalina Island. With 61 endemic species and human habitation dating over 7,000 years ago, Catalina Island is rich in both natural and human history. Our route today offers plentiful opportunities to learn about both. Home for the night is the secluded Parson's Landing beach campground, where we enjoy our final oceanside dinner and sunset together. All meals included.

Hiking: 6.6 miles on established trails with prolonged steep ascents and descents along a hot and exposed arid trail with little if any shade, Elevation gain/loss: +2,071' / -2,071'

Day 5

Hike Parson's Landing to our trail's end at Isthmus Cove and Two Harbors

We enjoy our final hearty trail breakfast in preparation for our last miles along the Trans-Catalina Trail. Our route to Two Harbors lies exclusively along the coast, where we enjoy nonstop shoreline views. We celebrate in Two Harbors with a delicious meal from the local restaurant made tastier with the camaraderie of new friends. Before catching our ferry back to San Pedro, we have time to swim, shower or hang out at the Patio Bar. Finally, we bid Catalina Island farewell as we hop aboard our ferry for the ride back. We estimate being back to San Pedro at 7pm. However, please be aware that available ferry times out of San Pedro vary significantly and are beyond the control of REI. As a result, you may find that you arrive back to San Pedro earlier than our estimated arrival time. Please plan your travel from San Pedro accordingly. Breakfast and lunch included.

Hiking: 7.7 miles on established trails with prolonged steep ascents and descents along a hot and exposed arid trail with little if any shade, Elevation gain/loss: +742' / -742; Ferry Transfer: 1.25-2 hours

Itinerary map for Trans-Catalina Island Trek

Gear List

We provide

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1 (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales ( 1 (800) 426-4840 ) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

Trip specifics may change over time. Reviews reflect the version of the trip that was active at the time the reviewer took it. Please review the itinerary as described above and call our team for any additional details.