The northern Channel Islands: an island escape close to home

The northern Channel Islands’ waters are home to diverse marine life, incredible geological features, and great diving. But the islands themselves also offer some fantastic adventures.

While 2,000 plants and animals call the Channel Islands home, there are over 145 species that are only found on the Channel Islands. Just exploring the wildlife on the islands is reason alone to go visit.

To get to the northern islands, you need to book a boat from Ventura or Santa Barbara. Once there, you can hike, bird watch, camp, and backpack.

The terrain varies on all of the islands; some islands have sharp cliffs, and others flat plains. Anacapa has magnificent hiking, though only East Anacapa has trails. The best part about hiking Anacapa is the opportunity to see the last permanent lighthouse built on the west coast. The trail to this is a little under a mile roundtrip.  My favorite part of Anacapa is the sloping hills painted white from the abundance of birds inhabiting the island.

Santa Rosa has many trails, and offers intense, long hikes for those up for a challenge. For a more leisurely hike, try hiking at Water Canyon Beach. It is relaxing and beautiful! If you are looking for a long hike, though, I have heard that the East Point trail is extremely tiring (about 15 miles) but extremely worth it!

On San Miguel Island, National Park Service recommends that you hike Cuyler Harbor Beach, Cabrillo Monument, and the Lester Ranch Site. All other hiking requires a park ranger. To arrange a hike, call (805) 658- 5730

For an awesome camping experience on the Channel Islands, Santa Cruz is the number one island that I have heard people talk about. Here you can camp at Scorpion Ranch. Make sure you have reservations before you go. When you get off the boat, you hike about a half-mile to the campground. There is often a ranger at the campground that can provide an overview of the island and take you on a short nature walk. The boat comes twice a day to Santa Cruz, so plan your camping trip accordingly.

If you would like to try camping on the other islands, there is a campsite on the east side of Anacapa, at Water Canyon on Santa Rosa, and above Cuyler Harbor on San Miguel.

While visiting the Channel Islands, you can find tide pools, go bird watching (talk to the rangers for information), go hiking, or just lose yourself in nature.

Happy hiking!

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