Summary: A truly spectacular hike along an old ranch road. Actually, all hikes on Santa Cruz Island are along old ranch roads, and all are easy trails to follow, with not very much gain in elevation. You actually lose a lot more than you gain on this trip. It's the return where you will be coming back up the steep dirt roads you once descended.
This trail takes you past a beautiful cypress grove planted by one of the former female residents of the island. You get wonderful vistas of Anacapa Island, and as the trail climbs - you can get a sense of the entire eastern side of the island.
The trail drops you down into the beautiful Smuggler’s cove, a perfect beach to soak your feet and cool off. There weren't any olives in the grove during our trip, but Smuggler's ranch, just .25 miles down the trail had an orange tree with some mighty fine tasting organic oranges.
Continuing to Montanon will take you off-trail and up a rough ridge, but you can make the trip a loop.
Trailhead: Take a boat from Ventura or Santa Barbara to get here. Be sure to always check in with the ranger - he won't check on you.
From Scorpion Harbor on Santa Cruz Island - follow the well marked system of trails. The road leading up the south hill is the trail. It is incredibly easy to find. The park supplies good maps that are easy to follow and read. (Lat:34.02161 Lon:-119.54254)
Trail Guides for Santa Cruz Island - Scorpion to Smugglers Cove:
by Tom Sinestra and Ann Marie Brown (Avalon Travel)
Best Seasons: Year-Round
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: Channel Islands National Park (805)658-5730
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Allen Riedel, who has posted 123 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by last_adventurer on 10/19/2012
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Reviewed by Mp on 6/21/2010
Very beautiful scenic views.
Reviewed by Teo de Ojai on 3/11/2010
We saw foxes along the way in the weeds. There is a lovely cypress grove on the way up from Scorpion that is well worth checking out and admiring the view of the channel while listening to the breezes in the trees. Thank you ISLAND PACKERS for making our trip to the island possible !
Reviewed by Doug on 10/8/2008
Reviewed by Derek on 1/22/2008
Went here Saturday 1/19. The grass is just starting to get green, still pretty brown. Made it a loop by continuing up to Montanon, which was a workout. The ridge was steep and without a trail. Also, the ridge is full of false summits, so it took longer than originally anticipated. A race against the clock to catch the boat back on time. Pretty hike though, but the loop in this direction is definitely a tough hike in the alotted time.
Reviewed by Blossom Alley on 1/11/2008
This is one of my favorite hikes of all time. If you are feeling adventurous, you can take a trail from Smugglers and do some scrambling down to Yellowbanks. Bring a lot of water.
Reviewed by Ryan on 5/1/2004
This is one of the best hikes i have ever done in my life. El Montanon has some of the most unique views i have ever seen. I spent alot of time in the San Jacintos, San Bernardinos, San Gabriels, and this is better.
Reviewed by hf on 1/26/2004
nice climb.. some parts are a good uphill hike, puts some strain on the legs. and of course we took a bunch of "short cuts" which turned out to be "long cuts" but beautiful nevertheless
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