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Santa Cruz Traverse

  4.6 ( 5 ) Favorite


13.4 mile 21.6 kilometer point to point
85% Runnable


Ascent: 2,573' 784 m
Descent: -2,568' -783 m
High: 1,561' 476 m
Low: 6' 2 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 26% (14°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Luke Snow

See summits, chaparral and sweeping ocean views while running the eastern Santa Cruz Island.

Luke Snow

Features Birding · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

A permit must be obtained for both Del Norte campground and the ferry to and from the island. If you wish to be dropped off at Scorpion Harbor and picked up at Prisoners Harbor or visa versa and you choose the most popular ferry service (Island Packers), you must call their office and ask; it is not an option available for online booking.


This trail ascends to High Mount and follows the ridgeline of the island, offering stunning views of the ocean, mainland, and the surrounding Channel Islands. It eventually descends to the bluffs that guard Prisoners Harbor where beautiful sunsets can be enjoyed on the island's moors.

Need to Know

The only water on this trail is at its genesis, Scorpion Ranch. Del Norte backcountry campground has none and neither does Prisoners Harbor. All water must be packed in.

Runner Notes

Most of the trail is extremely gravelly and loose, making it for a difficult and potentially painful trail to run.


The trail starts at Scorpion Ranch as you make your way through the ranch area and campground to the Scorpion Canyon Loop trailhead via Scorpion Valley Road. Once on the trail the path bisects the Scorpion Canyon for roughly 0.75 mile until you bare southeast and begin the steep ascent to High Mount Trail, passing an historic oil drilling sit along the way. Just past the high point of High Mount is a stunning vista that affords a 360-degree view of both sides of the island, Anacapa Island, and the mainland.

This view generally marks the gradual and undulating descent along the ridgeline towards the East End Road. Once on the road, the path is generally flat and enjoyable and the ground significantly less rocky and loose. The road ends into a former Navy road that should be taken north to connect to the Del Norte Trail. Once on this trail, follow it over the moors of the island until you once again dead end into the Navy Road. Take the road north, descending the entire way down to the beach of Prisoners Harbor and relax until the ferry arrives to pick you up.

This route is commonly done as an overnight so you'll have to plan your trip around the ferry schedule. A nice place to camp along the trail is the Del Norte campgrounds.

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Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 5 votes


  4.6 from 5 votes
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42 Views Last Month
1,561 Since Jan 1, 2018



Just hanging out, hoping for a morsel to eat.
Dec 13, 2016 near Anacapa…, CA
High Mount
Jan 1, 2018 near Anacapa…, CA
The moors of the island
Jan 1, 2018 near Anacapa…, CA
The start of the trail
Jan 1, 2018 near Anacapa…, CA
What is up with you, Island Fox?
Mar 16, 2018 near Anacapa…, CA
Scorpion Canyon Loop Trail.
Mar 16, 2018 near Anacapa…, CA


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