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Scorpion Cove is the most popular arrival point for visitors to Santa Cruz Island and the best jumping-off point for day hikes in this part of Channel Islands National Park.
Most boat passengers will hike the Cavern Point Loop, popular for its short distance and dramatic views atop sea cliffs.
If you only want a hike of only a couple miles, Cavern Point will not disappoint.
If you want to go a little farther and get away from the crowds, however, take this longer loop to Potato Harbor instead.
You’ll see more of the island this way, and you’ll still loop back by Cavern Point, getting to see it after the brunt of the crowds have dispersed.
You’ll also be more likely to see wildlife like the island fox, which likes to hang out near the campground. The route mapped here goes through the campground, passing the start of the Cavern Point Loop, and continuing onto Potato Harbor Trail.
This wide dirt path heads up a grassy hillside, granting expanding views of the wooded canyon below and mountain slopes beyond.
It ascends gradually to connect with the North Bluff Trail, atop a ridge where the ocean bursts suddenly into view, now hundreds of feet below.
Keep going to reach the Potato Harbor Overlook.
There you’ll gaze over a supremely photogenic cove, ringed by white cliffs and with a pointed islet guarding its entrance.
There’s no way down through the cliffs, so you’ll simply enjoy the panorama then turn around. Backtrack to the junction and take the North Bluff Trail, which soon connects to the Cavern Point Loop Trail.
You’ll get even broader views up and down the craggy coastline and around the ocean horizon at distant figures of land.
The ground near Cavern Point is barren and rocky, but the trail is not too steep or difficult.
Any vegetation that does manage to grow in these wind-whipped soils are easily damaged by trampling, and you’ll see places where erosion has done further damage.
Restoration is underway, but it's important to stay on the defined trails to help preserve the ecosystem.
The final part of the loop is a very steep, rather rocky downhill, making a quick and scenic descent to Scorpion Cove.
Hopefully, you’ll arrive with time to relax on the beach or wander the historic ranch before catching your boat ride home. Sources: https://www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/hiking-santa-cruz-island.htm https://californiathroughmylens.com/potato-harbor-overlook-cavern-point