The Catalina Coastal Climber

On this route, you’ll be challenged with paved and dirt climbs but breathtaking views that are worth the pain. The only cars you’ll encounter will be golf carts and the trails are generally pretty sparse with people; you will definitely see some wildlife, with a good chance of buffalo sightings. At the top of the coastal climbs, you’ll hear the barking of sea lions swimming in the oceans below.

Distance: 44.4 miles
Location: Catalina Island, Avalon

For this trip we’ll be focusing on an inland area climb and loop with a start in Avalon, a rest in Two Harbors, to loop back to Avalon with a fast descent back to the beach. The inland trails through Catalina Island have some truly incredible views that are comparable to anything else in California. On this route, you’ll be challenged with paved and dirt climbs but breathtaking views that are worth the pain. The only cars you’ll encounter will be golf carts and the trails are generally pretty sparse with people; you will definitely see some wildlife, with a good chance of buffalo sightings. At the top of the coastal climbs, you’ll hear the barking of sea lions swimming in the oceans below.

ParkingThe Stonehaus
Distance20 miles
Ride TypeLoop
Route TypeRoad
Climbing2032 ft'
DifficultyBeginner/Intermediate
Estimated Ride Time90 minutes

Specifics

Getting to this ride costs a little more than my usual day trips, but my hard earned money spent was well worth it. I also found out a few tricks that allowed me to save some money when I was planning and booking this trip. Before you book your ferry ticket (via Catalina Flyer or Catalina Express), check to see if Groupon (or any other service of its kind) offers a discount on tickets; I got a discount of $20 via Groupon. Book your ticket online, but make sure you stipulate if you are bringing your bike on the trip; it only costs you an addition $3.50 each way. One of the most inexpensive ways to book your ferry ticket is to do it on your birthday with the purchase of an additional ferry ticket.

If you don’t have a mountain bike you can rent one of the bikes from the shops on the island, which also rent out electric bikes, tandems, and cruisers. Brown’s Bikes is the shop right off the dock in Avalon and you can rent a bike from them for an hourly or daily fee. Reserve a bike online for a substantial discount rather than booking onsite. You can reserve a mountain bike from Brown’s Bike for a daily fee of $25, but I do not recommend their electric bikes because the batteries do not last long enough to get you up and around the inland trails, although the shop replaces the battery for you whenever it runs out. If you own an electric bike capable of riding dirt, be sure to bring a spare battery, and you’ll have a wonderful time. Due to the ruggedness of the trails, knobby tires are required and you should wear a helmet – the shop offers free helmets with all rentals.

Lastly, for this extensive route, you will need to pay for a permit to access the inland areas for mountain biking. To obtain a permit you need to join the Catalina Island Conservancy and pay the membership fee of $35/year. Not only will this membership get you one annual “freewheeler bike pass”,  you’ll also get extra perks like 50% off the Conservancy campground fees, membership discounts at the local businesses, and the satisfaction of knowing you’re supporting an organization dedicated to restoring and protecting the wildlands for all to enjoy.

The Stage Road, Santa Catalina Island, Calif.
1901 – 1902 Source: NYPL Digital Collection

My costs:
Catalina Flyer Ticket (via Groupon) – $50
Bike rental (entire day) – $50
Catalina Island Conservancy Membership – $35
Total: $135

Additional costs you may incur:
Catalina Flyer Ticket, Actual Price – $77.5
Bike Ferry Fare – $7.00 round trip

Map my Ride

Strava Link

Turn by Turn

I started in Avalon, but you can choose to arrive at Two Harbors via ferry and start the loop that way. We took the Catalina Flyer which only goes to Avalon dock from the Newport dock, but if you take the Catalina Express from San Pedro, you can dock at Two Harbors.

DISTANCE (miles) DIRECTION 

0.0 mi START (Green Pleasure Pier, Avalon)

The first climb starts immediately so get ready; for the first 4 miles you will be challenged, with a reprieve until mile 6 with another 4 mile climb. You’ll finish the route with a fast and fun descent.

0.1 mi Turn right onto Vieudelou Ave
0.26 mi Sharp left onto Chimes Tower Rd
0.36 mi Chimes Tower Rd turns slightly right and becomes Stagecoach Rd
0.96 mi Sharp left to stay on Stagecoach Rd
2.91 mi Continue west onto Airport Rd toward El Rancho Escondido Rd
9.56 mi Turn left onto El Rancho Escondido Rd
14.78 Turn right at Middle Ranch Rd
15.75 Slight left onto Little Harbor Rd (Campground here)
16.2 mi Turn left to stay on Little Harbor Rd and head northwest towards Two Harbors

This road will take you all the way to Two Harbors, known as Catalina’s “quieter side.” Two Harbors offers a host of outdoor activities. A visit to the Dive and Recreation Center will get you everything you need to enjoy camping, boating, fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. There are also more trails that lead to coves with crystal clear waters for snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming, and the Harbor Reef Restaurant if you want to stop for a bite. Depending on your stay you can decide how much time to dedicate in Two Harbors, you may just want to immediately head back down and enjoy your time before departure in Avalon.

To head back to Avalon you’re going to take W Banning House Rd

22.42 mi Turn left onto W Banning House and head southeast
24.81 mi Turn right to continue on Little Harbor Rd
29.16 mi Continue onto Middle Ranch Rd heading east
38.34 mi Turn right on Airport Rd
39.62 mi Turn right to stay on Airport Rd
40.4 mi Stay left to continue onto Stagecoach Rd
42.35 mi Continue onto Chimes Tower Rd
43.21 mi Turn left onto Marilla Ave

You’re back in Town!

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