Trans-Catalina Island Trek

Trip Length 4 Days
Group Size 4–14
Activity level
Starting from
$1,899 for REI Members
$1,999 for non-members

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Spend 4 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.

Turquoise waters, towering palm trees and prickly pear cactus provide an idyllic backdrop to the Trans-Catalina trail.

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 Vigorous [4]. While the bulk of camping and personal gear will be transported from campsite to campsite for participants, participants will still need to carry their own backpacks full of essentials and lunch items weighing 5–10 pounds over distances of 7–14 miles with elevation gains/losses of up to 4,500'. Please make sure your backpack is well-fitted to your body and that your hiking shoes are broken in before the trip.

  • Hiking
  • Backpacking

What's Included

All meals and snacks starting from lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 4; 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, 2 nights; Primitive backcountry campsites, 1 night

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 provide a short orientation and introduce the group to our lunch bar, where each hiker makes a tasty trail sandwich to enjoy later this afternoon. 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: +3,334’ / -1,848’; Ferry transfer: 1.25 hours

Day 2

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

After a hearty backcountry breakfast, we hit the trail for our next camp at Two Harbors. Along the way we search for resident wildlife, including the island’s famous bison, which are common along this stretch of trail. We also take a quick breather at Airport in the Sky, which sits atop a 1,602’ mountain in the center of the island. As we depart the airport, the trail heads back along the coast, offering outstanding views and an opportunity to enjoy lunch. We round out the day at Two Harbors campground, which sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. All meals included.

Hiking: 13.5 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: +2,897’ / -4,360’

Day 3

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 4

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 catered barbecue shared among 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

This gear list has been created to help you choose the best equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff. The weather and other conditions at the time of your arrival will dictate what clothing and equipment you will be required to use each day and what (if anything) can be left behind. It may be a necessary precaution that you bring certain items on the list, even if it is uncertain whether or not they will be needed.

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.