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  • Writer's pictureAngelea Ennamorato

5 Reasons to Hike the Trans-Catalina Trail

Updated: Dec 11, 2019

Perhaps you’ve never heard of the Trans-Catalina Trail (also known as the TCT). Maybe it’s been on your outdoor adventure bucket list for a long time. The TCT is the longest trail on Catalina Island at 38.5 miles, and although challenging, offers highly rewarding views and glimpses of rare wildlife. The trail is rated as difficult due to the elevation gains, but is well maintained and easy to follow. And if you’re keen to camp on Catalina Island, this trail passes through four campgrounds.

The TCT is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life in California. We truly believe Catalina Island’s back country is a special destination with its easy proximity to the California coast, unspoiled wild lands, and friendly island locals. In this post, we’ll cover the 5 reasons why you shouldn’t pass up this trail to experience the underrated side of Catalina Island.

#1: Taste the Remote Lands of the West Coast, Without the Crowds

If you’ve been to Big Sur, the OC, or Santa Monica Beach, you may have experienced a traffic jam or two. Or an overly intense battle for parking. On the TCT, any worries of overcrowding are swept away. Yes, you do need to reserve your campsites in advance (or we can do it for you with our services), but the ratio of people to the beautiful surrounding nature is much lower than you would get on the California coast. Don’t be surprised if you encounter less hikers than expected during your trip.

#2: Hiking Has Healing Benefits

Spending time in nature has been proven to improve immune systems, lower depression and anxiety, and spark up creativity among many other benefits. As Island locals, we replenish our own busy Avalon lives by spending time in the back country, and love to see visitors enjoying the TCT, all while soaking up the benefits of being out in nature. It’s a win-win. Getting outside isn’t only for outdoor experts, and neither are the benefits.

#3: Spot Wild Foxes...and Bison!

The Catalina Island Fox is an endemic subspecies found nowhere else in the world. We hope you spot one of these little buggers (they only weigh up to 6 lbs!) while hiking the TCT, and there’s also a small number of bald eagles. But more interestingly, there’s about 150 American Bison roaming Catalina Island’s back country due to a film that was produced there in the 1920s. It’s a surreal sight to see bison roaming on an island, but quite amazing to witness these gentle giants in person. Just keep a respectful distance and they’ll do their grass-grazing thing.

#4: Mix in a Kayaking Session

The TCT’s unique location allows for some special side activities alongside hiking. Once you arrive to camp in Little Harbor, which is the only remote beach campsite on the Island’s backside, you can go kayaking through Wet Spot Rentals or prearrange your kayaking through us if you’re using one of our services. Gliding on the Pacific Ocean to switch things up from hiking? Yes, please!

If sea lions and dolphins are out and about, you may be able to spot them during your kayaking session. Feel the power of the Pacific Ocean and get amazing views of the Island’s coastline while you spend time on the water at “One of the Best Campgrounds in the West” as rated by Sunset Magazine.

#5: You Can Walk the Trail...Without Carrying Any Gear.

That’s where we come in. At Catalina Backcountry, we offer all sorts of customization to help you out on the TCT. We can accommodated backpacker groups with full service gear hauls.

Overall, the Trans-Catalina Trail offers a unique opportunity to visit a remote, unspoiled part of Catalina Island that not many people have seen before. Whether you want to arrange the logistics on your own or plan it with us, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask any questions you may have. As locals we promote Catalina Island’s back country wholeheartedly, with the intention of enjoying the lands responsibly and with care.

You can reach us at (310) 913-9036 or at


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