Catalina Island News

Trans-Catalina Trail Dedicated

Catalina Island Conservancy

For the first time in history, hikers can now traverse virtually the entire length of Catalina Island on the 37.2-mile Trans-Catalina Trail. The trail was officially opened during a ceremony on Saturday, April 4 at the Haypress Recreation Area.

Anyone who hikes a portion of the Trans-Catalina Trail can pick up a souvenir certificate at Conservancy House, home of the Catalina Island Conservancy, 125 Clarissa Avenue in Avalon.

Avalon school children, along with Los Angeles County 4th District Supervisor and Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Don Knabe; representatives of the City of Avalon, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Conservancy placed the last stones to mark the pathway that has been under design and construction for more than 10 years.

The full length of the trail runs from Renton Mine Trail head on the east end, to Starlight Beach on the Island's west end.

"Although this is surely a landmark accomplishment, we're not finished expanding and improving our trail system," said Ann Muscat, President and CEO of the Conservancy, addressing the 150 people in attendance. "In the coming months and years, the Conservancy's Trails Department will continue to maintain and improve the system by adding loop trails, and amenities like shade structures."

She added that interpretive signage will be installed at select points of interest to provide interesting information about what hikers are seeing on the Trail.

"The Trans-Catalina Trail offers something for everyone - loops and shorter segments for those who have a few hours or a day, and the full length of the Island for serious trekkers who have several days," Muscat shared with the gathering.

"Using those portions of the Trans-Catalina Trail that are multi-use, along with alternative road routes that parallel the trail, bicyclists, too, can traverse nearly the entire length of the Island - from Renton Mine Trail Head all the way to Parson's Landing," she said.

Supervisor Knabe said the Trail "marks a milestone for hiking enthusiasts, Island residents, visitors from throughout Los Angeles County and the state, and from around the world.
"We know that thousands of people will be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the entire Island today and in perpetuity," he added.

Knabe presented the Conservancy with an engraved plaque commemorating the Trail's Opening Day.

Earlier in the ceremony, Kevin Ryan, Conservancy Trails Supervisor and Lenny Altherr, Facilities Director, were presented with a California State Certificate of Recognition sent by California State Senator Alan Lowenthal.

Ryan, referencing equipment lent for the occasion by REI, demonstrated what a well-appointed hiker would want to bring on a three-to-four-day jaunt along the full length of Trail. He told the youngsters in attendance that they could have fun exploring nature any time without specialized equipment, but pointed out the need to be well-prepared with water, sunscreen, appropriate footware and simple first-aid supplies when hiking in secluded areas.

The brief ceremony on Saturday afternoon was punctuated with firsts: The first organized hiking group, the Thad Jones Hikers, arrived on the scene after starting out the day before on the Trail at remote Starlight Beach. The group was remembering Thad Jones, a yachtsman, who in 1956 along with friends Steve Royce and Dick Lyon hiked the entire length of the Island in just more than 11 hours.

Children from the Avalon Schools became the first school group on the trail - being led by the Conservancy's Senior Wildlife Biologist Julie King, and Tachi, the Conservancy's Island Fox Ambassador who was hailed for being "the first paws on the Trail."

Muscat thanked everyone who participated in the Trans-Catalina Trail dedication, including:

* Los Angeles County 4th District Supervisor & Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Don Knabe;
* Director Russ Guiney, and Assistant Director Jim Parks of the Los Angeles County Department of Parks, and Recreation;
* Los Angeles County 4th District Field Deputy Connie Sziebl and Planning Deputy Julie Moore;
* Captain Mike Lewis, Los Angeles County Fire Department;
* Lieutenant Ed Cook, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department;
* Donna Harris, Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce;
* Bob Kennedy, Avalon Mayor;
* Sue Rikalo, Mayor Pro Tem and proprietor of Airport in the Sky's DC-3 Gifts and Grill restaurant; 
* Volunteers and Staff of the Conservancy;
* Charles Hathaway, Donor to the Conservancy Trails Program; 
* Dr. Maria Pellegrini, Donor, Conservancy Trails Program and current Benefactor member of the Conservancy Board of Directors;
* Rose Ellen Gardner, Director Emeritus and past President of the Conservancy ;
* Members of the Conservancy Board of Directors: Jim Brown, Cliff Hague, Blanny Hagenah, Roy Rose, Board Vice Chair Victoria Seaver-Dean, and Board Chair Dr. Tony Michaels.

For safety, hikers into the Island's interior are required to obtain a hiking permit. Hiking permits are free, and may be picked up at Conservancy House, 125 Clarissa Street in Avalon; at the Airport in the Sky; and at the Visitor's Center at Two Harbors. Camping reservations can be made by calling (310) 510-8368 (a $10 service fee applies) or visiting our website under "Visitor Guide," click on "Recreation" and then on "Catalina Camping."