Hike to Chinese Harbor on Santa Cruz Island

Rate this Adventure Los Angeles Island Packers Cruises

Added by

Hike one of the least travelled trails on Santa Cruz Island. Witness unforgettable views and walk along a rocky coastline. 

The hike to Chinese Harbor is a 14.2 mile out-and-back hike from Prisoners Harbor on Santa Cruz Island or a much more manageable 8 mile out-and-back hike from Del Norte backcountry campground. If you are spending the day on the island curtesy of Island Packers, a trek to Chinese Harbor might be difficult to manage since you will only have from 11:00am to 4:00pm on the island. This hike is best if you are taking your own boat or staying at Del Norte campground. The hike will take 6 - 7 hours depending on pace. 

From Prisoners Harbor take the Navy Base Road 1.5 miles to the Del Norte trailhead. Continue along the Del Norte trail for 3.8 miles. You will pass over mountains and through canyons overlooking the northside of the island. Eventually you will see the white coastline of Chinese Harbor off in the distance. After passing theDel Norte campground you will eventually reach another trail junction. Take a left and continue to follow the trail down towards Chinese Harbor. This section of the trail is not as well maintained as the Del Norte trail and wild flowers spring up in the middle of the path. Eventually you will come upon a breathtaking view of the harbor and see the trail wind down to the shore. It is another 1.8 miles downhill until you reach the beach. As you approach the bottom of the trail look to the right for a hidden path down to the shore. 

The beach has a rough surf that pounds into the rocks along the shore. You can hear the stones rolling back into the ocean as the tide carries them out. Bright yellow and pink rocks scatter the shoreline, along with piles of drift wood and items washed up from the sea. It is almost untouched. This is a true example of protected national park coastline.

After lounging on the beach and hanging out in the waves head back up the trail the way you came. The first leg of the hike back can be difficult as you now must climb the 750 ft you just descended. Make sure to bring enough water and a snack as it can be hot later in the day.

Pack List

  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Water
  • Snack
  • Towel
  • Swimsuit
  • Hiking boots
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Hiking, Swimming

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

14.2 Miles

Elev. Gain:

750 Feet

Features:

Beach
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!

Added by Henry Kittredge

Grew up in Austin TX and living in Los Angeles. I drove 1500 miles out to LA and never stopped driving. This is where I plan and record what I do.

More Adventures Nearby

Hike the PCT and Foot Trail Loop through Vasquez Rocks

Los Angeles / Vasquez Rocks

The Pacific Crest Trail and foot trail hike is a 5-mile loop with a quick PCT branch-off that leads under the 14 freeway through a long, well-maintained (but very dark) tunnel.

Leigh Maneri
7 Saves

Hike East Anacapa Island of the Channel Islands

Los Angeles / Island Packers Cruises

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.

Leigh Maneri
25 Saves

Hike Point Mugu Peak

Los Angeles / Chumash Trailhead

Point Mugu State Park offers some amazing rolling mountains, sweeping meadows of tall grass, and beautiful coastal views. I suggest going in the spring.

Katie Yarborough
14 Saves