Cavern Point 316
High Mount BM 1581
El Montanon 1808
Distance/Elevation, CG-to-CG: 9.8 miles RT/2550 feet elevation gain
Island hiking - now this was a different kind of trip! We spent 2 nights camping at the Scorpion Bay Lower Loop Campground which is only several tenths miles walking from where the ferry anchors. From Scorpion Bay several major trails loop around this Eastern Santa Cruz Island and there are also additional, more remote campgrounds as well. The eastern part of the island belongs to the NPS while the western part belongs to other entities, the largest of which is the Nature Conservatory. Hence, the Channel Islands NP HP is on the eastern side of Santa Cruz Island.
Janet and I took the Sunday afternoon ferry from Ventura Harbor. The concessionaire is Island Packers, check with them for operating hours which varies by the day of the week and which island you want to visit. You can also get to the islands by private boat and plane if you’re so inclined. Our ticket was $75/person RT ($65/person if not spending a night). The CG reservation was $15/night. There is potable water at the CG and the bathrooms are the best I’ve seen, hands-down, anywhere.
There was no other water source on any of the hikes we did (it was dry season while we were there). Temperature was high of 80 (very intense sun) and low of 50. There are no rattle snakes or other poisonous snakes on the island so, for example, light shoes and shorts works well in the heat. Nor are there bears or other large predators. There are however ubiquitous foxes which will steal anything they can from you; hence, fox boxes are present at all picnic and camping areas.
Arriving late Sunday afternoon after the 1hr 15 min ferry ride and setting up camp, we stretched our legs with the short loop hike around Cavern Point. All of the trails/roads are clearly marked with signs and trail maps are available at several places between the bay and CG. The trails are also easy to walk, no bushwhacking is required. Even when I went off the main trails to summit some of the other peaks, hiking was easy and there was always some older use trail I would follow. The Islands have been inhabited for 1000’s of years, primarily by the Chumash and more recently by ranchers - there are use trails everywhere.
On Monday, Janet went sea kayaking with a group while I went peak bagging. I sort of made a loop of the hike, starting out clockwise on the Montanon Ridge Trail (also shown on the maps as Smugglers Road), then continuing on Montanon Ridge Trail and on to the HP summit, back on the ridges, and finally branching off on the Scorpion Canyon Loop Trail to descend more directly, and steeply, back to camp (see topo).
There are two bumps on El Montanon separated by only a few minutes of walking. Apparently the SE bump is the HP although I could not tell the difference visually or with my altimeter. Presumably this has been done with a level.
We returned casually on the Tuesday morning ferry to Ventura. Following are some photos with more info and a topo.
Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, New Mexico.
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