Hiking Tips

Trans Catalina Trail Hiking Tips

The Trans Catalina Trail has a lot of character – a unique experience unlike any other. It is often underestimated by even the most conditioned hikers. These hiking tips will help get you going on one of the most stunning hikes surrounded by the beautiful Pacific Ocean and mountain scenery not found on the mainland.


If it’s hot weather, dressing in light-colored, lightweight & loose-fitting clothing helps prevent dehydration and protects the skin from sun exposure. Look for breathable synthetic materials. Cotton clothing is not recommended. Hiking boots are a must for durability. For best protection, wear a wide-brimmed hat (there is no shade), sunglasses and a high spf sweat-proof sunscreen.

Water Hydration

Bring one gallon of water per person and drink constantly to prevent dehydration. Being thirsty is a sign that your body is already dehydrated. While there are places to refill on the TCT, they are few and far between.


Intense hiking, especially in hot weather, can increase your chances of dehydration due to larger losses of bodily fluid through sweating. Be aware of these symptoms for prevention and treatment:

    • Dry mouth
    • Lack of sweating
    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Irritability
    • Tiredness
    • Dizziness
    • Fever
    • Delirium

Take breaks often and enjoy the natural beauty of the island while replenishing your water intake.

Other Gear

Other recommended trail gear includes: headlamp/flashlight, trail maps, the all important first aid kit ( at the very least, moleskin, Tylenol, and bandages are highly recommended), pocket knife, and whistle. Please be aware that cell phones do not work in the backcountry.


Catalina Island bison as spotted while backpacking Catalina with Catalina BackcountryJust a reminder that bison can be dangerous. All wild animals are dangerous, especially if cornered or if you come between them and their food, escape route, or offspring. If you encounter a bison, do not corner or spook them. Admiring and photographing these handsome beasts from a distance is fine, but do not provoke them.


If their tails go rigid and come up, of it they huff, lower their heads and paw at the dirt, these are indications that the bison thinks you are too close or they are getting aggravated.

Cautiously walk away – do not run or try to scare or chase a bison away. Most of the time, the bison will just move and get out of the way. People cannot outrun a bison!

Trail Creatures

Juvenile Catalina Island RattlesnakeWatch for sun-bathing animals on the trail. Catalina has rattlesnakes and they enjoy basking in the sun as much as we do, especially in warm weather. Be aware that juveniles are more venomous than adults despite their size!

Catalina Island Fox

These cute creatures are so sneaky. Keep an eye out for them at your campgrounds as they will get into your food if not packed up tightly, just like a raccoon. They are not shy.

Hiking Poles

Due to the terrain and steep ascents & descents of the TCT, we suggest hiking poles. Here is why they are so beneficial:

  • Descents – they decrease the amount of stress and pressure on your legs and joints.
  • Ascents – poles transfer some of the pressure to your shoulders, arms and back, which can reduce leg fatigue and add thrust to your climb.
  • They provide better balance and footing.
  • They make crossing loose rocks easier and safer.
  • They help establish a hiking rhythm.
  • They can push back vegetation or small creatures that may be aggressive.


Pack light! This trail is not your typical walk in the park. We have consistently heard that as little as 20 lbs is too much! Consider lightening your load and hiking with a simple day pack by using our gear haul service.

Poison Oak

Poison oak IS on the trail and may be hard to notice. Keep the old saying in mind “Leaves of three, let it be.” We want your experience to be as enjoyable as possible!