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East Anacapa Island Loop

Ventura, California



2.31 miles

Elevation Gain

269 ft

Route Type



Added by Leigh Maneri

East Anacapa Island Loop in Channel Islands National Park is just over two miles of easy hiking trails that allow you to fully take in Southern California's most captivating landscape and the abundance of wildlife within.

Leaving from either Ventura or Oxnard via Island Packers, this full-day hike is in the middle of the Santa Barbara Channel on a small island, about one hour from Los Angeles by car and one additional hour by boat. Without a beach on which to anchor, your boat will pull into Landing Cove and idle while passengers disembark. Climb 157 stairs up a cliffside to the surface of east Anacapa while the boat leaves you behind. You, and those who arrived with you, are now the only humans on the island, but certainly not the only life.

Walk to the tiny Visitor's Center which displays a behemoth Fresnel lens, once situated atop the lighthouse that still stands on the east side of the island — an impressive piece of technology circa 1932. Take a brief walk up the eastward trail to observe the lighthouse.

Backtrack southwest and stop at Cathedral Cove to admire the steady flow of gulls and pelicans as they trace the island edge over this dramatic and steep drop-off. If visiting during spring, admire gull nests, eggs and/or chicks that line the trails and every space in between. Continue on to Inspiration Point, an epic perspective of the middle and west Anacapa Islands, not to mention Santa Cruz, and San Miguel beyond. Capture this iconic photograph of Channel Islands National Park and lay out a blanket for a picnic lunch. 

Take the north route back and climb the hill behind the campsites to Pinniped Point for one last humbling panorama before returning to Landing Cove to climb back aboard. Catch a glimpse of Arch Rock as you head back east and keep your eyes out for pelagic birds, dolphins, sea lions, and whales. It's not uncommon for shuttle boats to take whale-watching detours for humpback, fin, or blue whale sightings. 

If you're planning to stay overnight, you can make campground reservations on Recreation.gov

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