Hermit Gulch Trail, Catalina Island

By Heather

While Darren and I vacationed on Catalina last week, we tried this thing. I think it’s called… Hiking? Forgive me, I’m not very used to “physical activity” as it relates to camping.

Alongside the Hermit Gulch campground is the Hermit Gulch Trail.


It’s a long hike. In fact, I’m still not quite sure how long it is because we tried twice and didn’t make it to the end!

At the time we took this photo, we were both pretty well dead:

photo 2

Dead, I tell you. Dead.

The uphill climb on this hike is unrelenting, ranging from slightly uphill to straight-up uphill. We gave up about 2.5 miles in because, ow.

But your reward is a beautiful view that has Avalon on one side and the other side of the island on the other.

Even though we didn’t finish, we were still treated to a gorgeous sight:

This is a popular trail for sure, but you’ll spend long periods hiking without seeing another soul.

If you ever go on this hike, please do tell me what awaits at the end. Is it a herd of buffalo? A wild boar? Unicorns?

A tip: If you take a bus to the airport (which costs about $1.50), you can start at the top of the island and hike around from up there.

Words about safety

So, the main words about safety are: Don’t hike by yourself. If you must, carry something with which you can defend yourself.

We had this odd, unsettling experience our first day taking the hike. I had gotten a little ahead of Darren and was alone when this guy rounded the corner, heading back down the trail.

“Hey, did you see a girl down there?”

“Yes, I just passed someone a couple minutes ago.”

He got closer to me.

“Blonde hair?”

“I guess?”

He got even closer.

“All black clothes?”

“I really didn’t get a good look.”

That’s when Darren caught up with me and the guy backed off and kept going down the hill.

We agreed: This guy had totally rapey eyes. I’m trying not to think about what might have happened had I been alone.

Pepper spray and a nice knee to the groin are your friends.

Plants and animals

We didn’t see any wildlife while out on the trail, but people have spotted buffalo, foxes and rattlesnakes.

As far as I know, we did not have any poodle dog-like incidents. But watch out for poison ivy on the trail! As you near the top of the island, it becomes more plentiful.

More information about Catalina hiking can be found here.

2014 update

Since writing this post, we’ve taken up hiking. Reading this post not even one year later, I scoff – scoff, I tell you! – at the very idea that we couldn’t summit this hill of a hike!

We were so much older then. We’re younger than that now.

Oh, sure, the trail is steep in parts, and there are plenty of switchbacks that will give the back of your thighs a good workout. But challenging? Pft. In August of 2014, Darren and I knocked this thing off before breakfast.


No unicorns.


Done. Let’s eat!