Guidebook

5 of the Best Hikes in Channel Islands National Park

Explore 5 natural islands in the middle of a massive marine sanctuary.

Greg Heil

Description

Channel Islands National Park protects an impressive 249,354 acres, but most of that protected area is actually a marine sanctuary. While the park protects five of the Channel Islands located just off the coast of Southern California, the marine sanctuary extends six nautical miles into the ocean. "Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth and helped preserve a place where visitors can experience coastal southern California as it once was," writes the NPS.

While many visitors to the Channel Islands come specifically for the protected marine environment, even land lovers "can find spectacular hiking opportunities. . .and one established campground on each of the islands," according to NationalParks.org. In this guidebook, you'll find a selection of the top hikes in Channel Islands National Park.

Smuggler's Cove and Potato Harbor are two of the very best hikes in the national park, and both provide beautiful trails leading to isolated beaches for a unique experience of Coastal California as it once was before it got overrun by development.

To tour two of the smallest and more isolated islands, try either Anacapa Island or Santa Barbara Island.

Dive deep into the routes in this guidebook to discover all the incredible hiking opportunities that the Channel Islands have to offer!

Smugglers Cove
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Smugglers Cove

3 - 4 hrs
12.2 km
440 m
440 m
From Scorpion Cove, a wide path leads over the island to Smugglers Cove, with a remote beach and even further hiking options once you get there.
Moderate
Private
Potato Harbor and Cavern Point Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Potato Harbor and Cavern Point Loop

2 - 3 hrs
7.8 km
223 m
223 m
Walk the top of dramatic sea cliffs, and among the grassy hills of Santa Cruz Island.
Moderate
Private
Anacapa Island Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Anacapa Island Trail

1 - 2 hrs
3.9 km
135 m
135 m
A leisurely hike atop this cliff-lined island, among thousands of seabirds and with endless ocean overlooks.
Easy
Private
Pelican Bay Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Pelican Bay Trail

2 - 3 hrs
7.2 km
314 m
314 m
Explore some of the most diverse habitats on Santa Cruz Island, with particularly good opportunities for spotting wildlife.
Moderate
Private
Wreck Road to Ford Point
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Wreck Road to Ford Point

4 - 5 hrs
16.3 km
540 m
545 m
Day 1 of a backpacking trip on the wild shores of Santa Rosa in Channel Islands National Park.
Moderate
Private