The Trans-Catalina Trail


Backpack - The Trans-Catalina Trail

Set sail after the winter rains have stopped and before the summer fog rolls in, your destination is the island port, mist-shrouded and remote, much like its namesake, Avalon. From the enchanting town of Avalon traverse the island along the 40 mile Trans-Catalina Trail to the small village of Two Harbors.

  • Moderate
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 38.5 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 9,600 ft

Due to the complexities of air flight and ferry to the island, I highly recommend staying the night of February 29th in Avalon.
Place: Avalon at the Roundabout before the Catalina Island Conservancy Visitor Center (33.34281, -118.32382)
Time: 9:00am
Map and Route:

The journey takes you through rolling hills to reveal panoramas of the Pacific Ocean and overnight camps on the secluded harbors. Your spirit guide might be the North American bison that freely roam the island; legend tells they were brought for filming of Zane Grey's 1924 feature film, either The Vanishing American or The Thundering Herd. Observe the wildlife, including the northern mockingbird, northern elephant seal, blackbuck antelope and the Santa Catalina Island fox, uniquely found on Catalina Island.

This trip is part of the Intermediate Backpacking Program. The trip is open to all Mountaineers at this time.

Leader permission is required. The hardest day is 13.6 miles and 3,142ft of elevation gain, with overnight backpacks.


There a few nice stops along the route for lunch and a break. The second day visits the Airport in the Sky Restaurant and the third day includes a stop in Two Harbors before continuing on to Parsons Landing.

  • Day 0: February 29th - Fly to Los Angeles and take the ferry to Avalon, Catalina Island. 
  • Day 1: March 1st - Avalon to Blackjack Campground (10.7 miles/+2,930 ft) or (15.4 miles/+3030 ft)
    • 9am meetup at The Avalon trailhead for the Trans-Catalina Trail at the roundabout in front of Catalina Island Conservancy Trailhead.
  • Day 2: March 2nd - Blackjack to Little Harbor Campground (8.3 miles/+987 ft)
    • Airport in the Sky Shop, open 7 days a week 8:30am to 4pm, Airport call: 310-510-0143
  • Day 3: March 3rd - Little Harbor to Parsons Landing (13.6 miles/+3142 ft)
  • Day 4: March 4th - Parsons Landing to Two Harbors (7.7 miles/+516 ft)
    • Early start
    • Hike to Two Harbors for lunch, public showers and take the Catalina Express at 11:45am (direct) or 4:45pm (via Avalon).


$135.19 due two weeks before the trip to cover the campsite reservations and the water cache for Parsons Landing.
Costs that are not included:

  • Airfare
  • Transport from the airport to Long Beach
  • Ferry to Avalon, Catalina Island and back from Two Harbors to San Pedro
  • Overnight stay in Avalon
  • Food and amenities along the route

The Trans-Catalina Trail

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Food storage is provided at the campgrounds
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Chemical toilets are available. Toilet paper and shovel for emergencies.
Trip Reports