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Trans-Catalina Trail Day 1: Avalon to Black Jack

Day 1 of a 4-day backpacking trip spanning the entire length of Catalina Island.

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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 14.9 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview :  This is a long, strenuous hike, especially if you are backpacking. But the views are amazing. Beautiful blue ocean views in every... more »

Tips:  Once you reach the ridgeline, there is no coverage, so it can get hot. Wear proper sun protection.

You will likely see wild bison... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Terrace Road

The trail head is over a mile east of Avalon, but getting there along Terrace Road gives you terrific views of the quaint harbor town.

2. Trailhead for the Trans-Catalina Trail

Although the hiking begins when you get off the ferry, the official Trans-Catalina Trail starts here at Renton Mine Road; a windy dirt-and-gravel road that steadily climbs upward.

You'll enjoy the shade of eucalyptus trees and amazing views of the east end of Catalina.

3. [JCT] Take a sharp right here at the TCT sign

If you miss this turn, you'll find yourself following a dead-end road. Fortunately, it doesn't go more than about 1/2 a mile.

4. Ridgeline

When you finally reach the ridgeline, take a moment to soak in the ocean view, which extends completely around the north, east and south side of the island.

5. [JCT] Continue on the ridgeline

Divide Road along the ridgeline is met by another road that climbs up from Hermit Gulch. This sees much more foot traffic than the TCT, and is an option if you're looking to shave a few miles off the trip.

The Hermit Gulch Trail meets the TCT here. Stop to read the commemorative plaque and look back and admire Avalon. It's your last glimpse of the town for a few days.

Continue along the Divide Road.

7. [JCT] Cross-Country

After following the ridgeline road, you'll turn left (west) at the Trans-Catalina Trail sign. Finally you're off the gravel road and on to some real trails!

There is a section along here where you pass through a gate in a tall fence, designed to keep the bison out. It reminded me a little of the fences in Jurassic Park...

8. [JCT] Haypress Reservoir and Park

As you near the reservoir, you join back up on a gravel road. At the north end of the reservoir is a small park with a playground and picnic tables. A nice spot for lunch!

Passing around the north end of the reservoir along the road, watch closely for the TCT sign on the left side; it's easily missed. If you do miss it, you can follow the road;... More

9. [JCT] Barely There

This junction is an important one. You'll continue southwest on a scant single track trail through some very beautiful hills. Don't be surprised to see bison grazing along the way. If you do, give them a wide berth and do not provoke them!

10. Black Jack Campground

Your first night on the trail will be deep in the island's interior at Black Jack Campground. It sits just west and slightly south of Black Jack Mountain. There is potable water available, chemical toilets and developed campsites with picnic tables and fire rings. Reservations are required.

Firewood is available for sale, but you must request it... More