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Hermit Gulch Trail Loop

Up for a short hike with a big payoff?
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 3.9 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly

Overview :  Up for a short hike with a big payoff? Try the Garden to Sky Hike using the Memorial Road and Hermit Gulch trail. You can make the... more »

Tips:  Obtain your Hiking Permit online. Also, be sure to review Cautions and Policies before heading out on your adventure.

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Points of Interest

1. Wrigley Botanic Garden

The Wrigley Botanic Garden is a great place to start your hike. Here you'll have an introduction to the plant life on Catalina. It's also a great place if you have family with different hiking interests. Some can explore the garden while others continue with the loop.

The idea for a garden came from Mr. Wrigley's wife, Ada. In 1935, she... More

2. Wrigley Memorial

The Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden is a true destination in its own right. Adding these features to your day hike makes for a truly memorable experience.

The Wrigley Memorial honors the memory of William Wrigley Jr., who lived from 1861 to 1932. Although best known as the founder of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, largest manufacturer of... More

3. Memorial Road

Soon you will enter a steep section of the trail with several switchbacks. The plant life will change dramatically. Take a moment here to notice the deep greens of several native shrubs including Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) with bright red berries in the fall, Lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia), and Island redberry (Rhamnus pirifolia), a... More

4. Prickly pear cactus

The sharp needles of the prickly pear cactus, Opuntia littoralis, shimmer in the afternoon sun next to the Memorial Road at the beginning of the Garden to Sky Hike. The neon-colored fruit of the nopales cactus tastes a little bit like watermelon. The juice from the fruit is used to make jam and vinaigrettes. The Catalina Island fox loves to dine... More

5. Leftover from the fire

On the side of the road is a twisted skeleton of a burnt oak tree, a vestige of the 2007 fire that burned more than 4,750 acres. Many of the plants that were destroyed by flames have risen from the scorched land leaving this one to stand-alone on the hillside.

6. The Pacific Ocean and beyond

In the foreground of this picture is the inflorescence, a cluster of flowers, on a stem of white sage (Salvia apiana) and in the background you can see the windward side of Catalina Island. If it were a clear enough day, you might see San Clemente Island, another California Channel Island.

Special thanks to Gary T. Goodgame for his support of the... More

7. Never-ending trail

The Divide Road seemingly goes on forever. It's about a mile or more to the Hermit Gulch trail head from where you turned right off of the Memorial Road at the top of Avalon Canyon. It'll be several more bends in the trail before you get there. Keep going!

8. Spectacular scenic views

On a clear day you can see both sides of the Island from this vantage point. Across the channel you can see the Santa Monica, San Bernardino, and San Gabriel Mountains.

In the top reaches of the hike you'll see a few plants with strong scents that are characteristic of the coastal sage scrub plant community. They are: White sage (Salvia apiana)... More

9. Lizard with a view

This common side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana) suns itself on a rock next to the trail head to Hermit Gulch. Beneath it is a plaque quoting Captain Eddie Harrison, a Catalina legend. He was the father of actor Gregory Harrison and captain of a popular sightseeing glass-bottom boat in Avalon. It is said that every so often, the captain would... More

10. Glimpse of a fox

In late 1999, an outbreak of distemper virus caused the Catalina Island fox (Urocyon littoralis catalinae) population to plummet from about 1300 to just 100 animals. In 2000, the Catalina Island Conservancy and its partner, the Institute for Wildlife Studies, implemented the Catalina Island Fox Recovery Plan. The plan combined relocation,... More

11. Bloomin' flowers

The silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons with its purple flowers are very distinct and relatively easy to spot while the flower of the Island deerweed (Lotus dendroideus) is quite small. Both were discovered on the side of the trail on the descent to Hermit Gulch.

12. Leaves of three, leave 'em be

In this area you will be greeted by a dense tunnel of shrubs. The plant life here looks very different from what you had seen a few switchbacks ago. This section of the trail is dominated by non-native invasive plants, including Flax-leaved broom (Genista linifolia), French broom (Genista monspessulana) and fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). Also be... More

Your hike concludes at the Hermit Gulch Campground. Hang a right and you'll be back at the entrance of the garden go left and you'll be in town very soon.