Channel Islands National Park: Anacapa Island

Anacapa Island's oceanfront overlooks, throngs of wildlife, and a picture-perfect lighthouse highlight this classic 2.5-mile loop in Channel Islands National Park.
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Anacapa Island's oceanfront overlooks, throngs of wildlife, and a picture-perfect lighthouse highlight this classic 2.5-mile loop in Channel Islands National Park.

This short, 2.5-miler tours the length and interior of East Anacapa Island, one of the five islands in Channel Islands National Park. From the mainland, take a boat to Landing Cove. Climb the steps that lead up the cliffs, and look for the sea lions, brown pelicans, and western gulls that live around Anacapa.
At the top of the stairs, pick up the walking path that travels south toward the visitor center (bathrooms, picnic tables, and trail guides are available here). After half a mile, the route passes a vantage point overlooking Cathedral Cove, an inlet marked with towering rock pinnacles. Look down the edge of the cliff for breathtaking views of a sea cave and a cobbled shore (a popular hangout for sea lions).
From here, the trail travels past a small campground engulfed by bright yellow coreopsis and descends a hill to Inspiration Point. Take in the stunning views before following the singletrack along the southern edge of the island to another overlook featuring sunbathing sea lions and dive-bombing pelicans. The island tour ends with a stop at Anacapa Lighthouse, a historic light station built in 1932. Return to Landing Cove to catch the boat back to the mainland.
Information on Anacapa Island: Plan Your Visit, Hiking Anacapa Island, Island Transportation, and Channel Islands National Park.
-Mapped by Chuck Graham

TO TRAILHEAD: Boat transportation to all five islands is available year-round by Island Packers and Truth Aquatics. Go to www.islandpackers.com or www.truthaquatics.com for information.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 4.0

Waypoints

ANA001

Location: 34.0165442, -119.3622252

From the dock at the Landing Cove, climb the winding steps that lead up the cliffs to the island's plateau. Sea lions, brown pelicans, western gulls, and sea kayakers are a common sight around the island.

ANA002

Location: 34.0164286, -119.3634564

Continue straight (south) @ 3-way intersection.

ANA003

Location: 34.0155482, -119.3635529

Turn right @ T-junction and head northwest toward the visitor center.

ANA004

Location: 34.0155838, -119.363687

Swing by the visitor center on the left for bathrooms, picnic tables, and trail guides. Ahead, follow the path to the northwest.

ANA005

Location: 34.0158728, -119.3642637

Continue straight (west) @ the 3-way junction.

ANA006

Location: 34.0155216, -119.3678176

Continue straight @ 3-way junction. Follow the singletrack to a viewpoint overlooking Cathedral Cove (named for the towering rock pinnacles that jut out of the water). At the edge of the cliff, look down and to the left into a sea cave with a cobbled shore (a popular hangout for sea lions). Next, return to Waypoint 5 and turn right.

ANA007

Location: 34.0145611, -119.3679357

Anacapa Island Campground: There are seven campsites in the middle of this narrow islet. During the spring the campsite is engulfed in wildflowers, especially the vibrantly yellow coreopsis. Turn right @ the 3-way junction and continue west.

ANA008

Location: 34.0134673, -119.3705428

Bear right @ the Y-junction and descend into a brilliant forest of coreopsis. Ahead, follow the snaking singletrack that cuts through the grass.

ANA009

Location: 34.0130737, -119.3742013

Inspiration Point: Stunning views extend in every direction from the edge of the cliff. Middle Anacapa Island can be seen to the southwest. From here, the singletrack continues along the southern edge of the island back to the campground (Waypoint 7). Turn right @ the campground and walk south.

ANA010

Location: 34.0135562, -119.3675977

This overlook features views of sunbathing sea lions and hordes of pelicans dive-bombing for fish. Return to Waypoint 7 and turn right @ the 3-way junction.

ANA011

Location: 34.0143744, -119.3678176

Continue straight @ 3-way junction.

ANA012

Location: 34.0154015, -119.3634644

Turn right @ Y-junction and head east toward the Anacapa Lighthouse.

ANA013

Location: 34.0157483, -119.3599856

Anacapa Lighthouse: Built in 1932, this light station was the last permanent lighthouse built on the west coast. Do not pass the sign that warns about the fog horn. Return to Waypoint 12 and turn right; retrace your steps to the Landing Cove.

Anacapa Lighthouse

Location: 34.0155305, -119.3616056

The Anacapa Lighthouse at dawn. The mountains in the background are the Santa Monicas.

Gull Chicks

Location: 34.0155038, -119.3676567

Anacapa Island is the largest rookery for western gulls in the country.

Hikers leaving the campground

Location: 34.0138586, -119.3694592

They are headed out toward Inspiration Point.

Anacapa coreopsis

Location: 34.0136496, -119.3708271

One of the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring, the coreopsis is one of the most prolific flowers on the islands.

Inspiration Point

Location: 34.0130626, -119.3741477

This is one of the most breathtaking views in the park.