Catalina Island, CA: Two Dump Loop

An isthmus crossing and a killer climb reward with cross-channel views and a glimpse of Catalina Island's rugged backside on this 5.4-mile loop above Two Harbors.
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An isthmus crossing and a killer climb reward with cross-channel views and a glimpse of Catalina Island's rugged backside on this 5.4-mile loop above Two Harbors.

Gaining more than 1,200 feet of elevation in a little more than 2 miles, this loop offers a stiff climb and quick introduction to Catalina Island’s west end. Start at the bus stop in Two Harbors. Follow the Cat Harbor Road for 0.4 mile before turning right to begin the earnest climb to a ridgeline. The cactus-lined path can be loose in some places, but as you rise above this remote, tiny town, you’re afforded spectacular views of the isthmus and the mooring-filled coves on either side.

An easy, rolling path along the ridgeline turns left, rounding the back of a canyon. Look for Ansel Adams-worthy scrub oak remains in the grassy hillsides before joining the Silver Peak Trail just below an overlook. Make the quick uphill before turning back and following the Dump Road down 1,200 feet over the next 1.5 miles to Wells Beach and Cat Harbor. The last mile is a gentle, winding descent back to town that skirts the shores of Cat Harbor .

-Mapped by Frannie Finley

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 8.7

Waypoints

TDL001

Location: 33.440779, -118.49848

This hike begins at the bus stop, a short walk from the dock and just to the east of the restaurant. The first 0.4 mile on the main road are relatively flat and easy.

TDL002

Location: 33.43659, -118.50217

Just before the water's edge at the back of Cat Harbor, a well-worn road leads up and to the right. Follow it to begin the mile-long climb to the ridgeline.

TDL003

Location: 33.43656, -118.5041

The climb intensifies as it follows a smaller, right-hand path from this point (a few hundred yards west of the main road).

TDL004

Location: 33.44025, -118.50662

A flat spot offers brief respite on the climb, and a faint trail leads right to a hammock-shrouded scrub oak.

TDL005

Location: 33.43979, -118.50834

This is the only real switchback on the climb. Turn right to continue up the final push to the ridgeline.

TDL006

Location: 33.44257, -118.50871

The cactus and sage-lined path keeps climbing, but you're almost to the top.

TDL007

Location: 33.44731, -118.52557

After a mile of rolling up and over the ridgeline contours, a short climb leads to a large open dirt area atop a hill. Turn left for a quick, steep downhill and a mellow climb to the Silver Peak Trail.

TDL008

Location: 33.441609, -118.52617

This mapped route joins the Silver Peak Trail road just below the island's west-end ridge. The quick uphill detour is worth the views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina's rugged backside.

TDL009

Location: 33.44157, -118.52655

If it's not too windy, this ridge-top overlook is a great place to stop for a snack, or to stretch your legs before turning around and following the steep path downhill.

TDL010

Location: 33.43927, -118.51678

Just after a flat section of trail, you'll pass a large, round water tank on your left and the old Two Harbors dump on your right. The old dump area is inactive and is a popular grazing spot for deer.

TDL011

Location: 33.433349, -118.50941

The steep, 1.5-mile downhill leads to Wells Beach, a maintenance and work area for the village of Two Harbors. Stay on the main road and watch for old, dirty maintenance trucks as you head uphill and round a bend on the narrow road.

TDL012

Location: 33.43283, -118.50798

Look back and to the left side of Catalina Harbor for a view of a local landmark, the ridgeline between Mount Torquemada and Cat Head, which resembles the silhouette of a pregnant woman.

Trailhead

Location: 33.4407527, -118.4983635

There isn't much traffic on the Cat Harbor Road, where this hike begins. © Frannie Finley

Cat Harbor Road

Location: 33.4365269, -118.50214

The Cat Harbor road is the darker-surfaced one on the left. This route follows the dirt trail to the right from this unmarked Y-junction. © Frannie Finley

Footpath

Location: 33.437458, -118.5041142

This prickly-pear-lined path begins the intense climb to the ridge above Two Harbors. © Frannie Finley

Two Harbors

Location: 33.439929, -118.5060453

A view of Two Harbors from the hammock. Notice Bird Rock on the upper left and Big Fisherman's Cove on the upper right. © Frannie Finley

Hammock

Location: 33.4402871, -118.506217

Who knows how long it'll last, but this hammock is a nice spot for a rest. © Frannie Finley

Mainland

Location: 33.4434385, -118.5096502

You'll find 100-mile views of the southern California coast on a clear day. In the foreground, is the Isthmus Cove on the right and Fourth of July Cove on the left. © Frannie Finley

Pregnant Lady Landmark

Location: 33.4325158, -118.5076332

A local landmark, the silhouette of a reclining pregnant woman, looms above the moorings in Cat Habor. © Frannie Finley