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Trans-Catalina Trail Day 3: Starlight Beach

Day 3 of a 4-day backpacking trip along the entire length of Catalina Island.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 17 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview :  Beyond the isthmus lies the most remote section of Catalina Island, and this long, 17 mile day rewards you with the most beautiful... more »

Tips:  Don't forget to pickup your locker key for Parson's Landing. There is no other water available.

You could also break this long day... more »

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Points of Interest

1. [JCT] Veer uphill along the fireroad

Once you pass the isthmus, stay to the right. You'll turn right and head up the gravely, single lane Silver Peak road.

This section climbs rapidly and relentlessly to the top of the island's ridge, with more amazing 360 degree views of the rugged Catalina coastline.

Look closely and you might spot migrating whales.

2. [JCT] Turn right (NE) at the TCT sign

This section follows a treacherously steep fireroad down towards Parson's Landing. The dry, gravelly surface seems designed to maximize your chances of slipping and falling. Trekking poles are extremely handy here.

3. [JCT] Choices

There are two ways to get down to Parson's Landing from this road. If you go to the left, you can follow the road all the way down to the beach. Go to the right about 1/8th a mile and you'll see a trail sign on the left that leads down to the same place.

4. Parson's Landing Campground

This was by far the best campground on the island. You are literally right on the sand. Remote, beautiful, and uncrowded. It's also the most primitive. There are weathered old picnic tables and fire grates, but no potable water.

When you make your campsite reservation, it includes a 2-1/2 gallon container of water and one bundle of firewood.

5. [JCT] The trail to Starlight Beach

Drop your gear at Parson's Landing, then take water for the 4.5 mile trek (9 mile round-trip) to Starlight Beach -- the official terminus of the Trans-Catalina Trail.

6. Starlight Beach - Western Terminus of the Trans-Catalina Trail

This remote black sand beach is the western terminus of the TCT. There is no camping allowed, but it's a great place to rest, enjoy the views, and if you're lucky you might catch a glimpse of the bald eagles that live on Catalina.

After you've rested, retrace your steps 4.5 miles back to Parson's Landing.