Trail difficulty
Black diamond
Elevation Gain
3,425.00 ft (1,043.94 m)
Trail type
24.00 mi (38.62 km)
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While Catalina Island is a hidden adventurer's paradise off the coast of Los Angeles, most visitors will stick to the shops and restaurants of Avalon. What many visitors don't see is the rugged interior, beaches, hiking trails and campgrounds of the island. While the Trans-Catalina Trail remains popular amongst hikers, the infrequently traveled gravel road linking the towns of Avalon and Two Harbors provides a challenging and adventurous route for cyclists looking to visit both sides of the island with a solid ambitious single day of riding, or a more leisurely two-day bikepacking trip in between. With 3400' of climbing a 24 miles of distance one way between the two towns, this ride is a solid workout and it's ensured you'll encounter few if any other riders along your way.

Bicycling between opposite sides of the island requires a little planning, however gives visitors the chance to see and explore both sides of Catalina, including the wilder and less-visited outdoor locations on the Two Harbors side. Logistically, the towns of Avalon and Two Harbors are separated by a 24 mile road. The road is paved between Avalon and the Catalina Airport In The Sky, and becomes a well-graded dirt road between the airport and Two Harbors. With a restaurant and nature center, the airport also sits near the apex of 1550' of elevation gain, so that restaurants is extra welcome regardless of which side you climb from.

The route is sandwiched by Hermit Gulch Campground in Avalon and Two Harbors Campground in Two Harbors - both offering tent camping sites as well as rentable tent cabins and camping equipment - and those looking to break the ride up into multiple days can stay at Little Harbor Campground or Black Jack Campground which lie in the interior (there are no other lodging options in the interior of the island).

Being that the route is along a graded dirt road, the ride is not very technical, but does involve two large challenging climbs and descents, with Little Harbor beach and campground lying between the two, providing shade, water and some scenic beach environment where you're often more likely to see some of the bison herd that roam the island's interior than other people. 

Those looking to ride one-way rather than round trip can use the Wildlands Express Shuttle to return to their point of origin.

Land on Catalina Island is still privately held, and entering the island's interior requires a Freewheeler Bike Pass, which can be obtained through a membership with the Catalina Island Conservancy. With a current membership, cyclists must stop at one of the Island Conservancy locations in Avalon or Two Harbors to obtain the physical permit tag before entering the interior.

Along the route water is only available at the airport (located 12 miles from Avalon and 12 miles from Two Harbors), and at Little Harbor Campground (located 18 miles from Avalon and 6 miles from Two Harbors). Food is only available at the airport restaurant during open hours.

All in all, cycling or bikepacking between Catalina Island's two towns can be challenging and take a bit of planning, however it offers an excellent way to explore the island's interior that few others get to see. And we've found that having a bike makes an ideal way of getting around Avalon or exploring the beaches beyond Two Harbors during our visits.

A couple things to note, campgrounds - particulary Hermit Gulch - can sell out quickly during the busy season, so it's best to book sites well in advance. Dirt roads may see fewer than a dozen vehicles over the course of the day - having a capable bike is essential, with knobby tires and helmets required by the Island Conservancy. There is very little shade along the route, so if done during the warm season, be prepared with plenty of water and sunblock. And finally, common sense (not to mention statutes) says to keep a safe distance and not harrass any bison that are encountered along the way. But they make for a unique photo op!

Bicycles can be carried onto mainland-island ferries for an additional baggage fee.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Wildlife encounters. Opportunity to explore the island's interior.


Very little shade.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

5.00 ft (1.52 m)

Highest point

1,570.00 ft (478.54 m)


Vault toilet
Flushing toilets
Big vistas
Big Game Watching
Bird watching
Potable water

Typically multi-day



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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