Trail of the Week: Trans Catalina Trail, California

Photo: Payton Chung under CC BY - SA

Our Trail of the Week feature is made possible through a partnership with Trail Run Project, a crowd-sourced collaboration by and for the running community. Thanks to Spencer Campbell of the Catalina Island Conservancy for mapping and describing this route.

Catalina Island, located about 20 miles off the Southern California coast near Los Angeles, is a popular tourist attraction. Though most stay around Avalon, the lone city on Catalina, getting out into the island’s backcountry is an unforgettable experience. The trails on Catalina allow for a full tour of the island to be quite the running adventure.

The Trans-Catalina Trail stretches from the Renton Mine Trailhead on the east end to Starlight Beach on the west end. It winds up hills and down valleys offering spectacular views across the 43,000-acre Nature Preserve of the Catalina Island Conservancy. Runners can enjoy the full length of the trail. You may run a single leg of the trail or tackle it in it’s entirety over multiple days. Camping is available at certain points of the trail. Catalina Island Conservancy members receive a 50 percent discount on camping fees at Black Jack, Little Harbor, and Parson’s Landing campgrounds.
Among the sights you will see:

  • Catalina Island has at least 61 endemic species and subspecies, including eight plants, five mammals, three birds, and 45 invertebrates.
  • Keep an eye out for the Catalina Island Fox and Bald Eagles.
  • Rattlesnakes are native to the island. Depending on the temperature, they may reside under or on top of warm rocks, or be found curled up by the side of the road. Avoid them.
  • Bison can be encountered on all parts of the trail east of the Isthmus. If you encounter bison, move slowly and steadily around them, keeping at least 150 feet away.

The Data

Miles: 38.4

Runnable: 83 percent

Average Grade: 8 percent

Max Grade: 33 percent

Total Ascent: 7,638 feet

Total Descent: -7,932 feet

Highest Elevation: 1,737 feet

For a closer look, check out the interactive map, data, photos and virtual run simulator courtesy of Trail Run Project:

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