Santa Catalina (Days 2 and 3 – Nov 16-17 2013) – (Hermit Gulch Trail, Descanso Beach Club, Avalon)

Posted: December 4, 2013 in Full Life, Hiking, Photography, Travel, Vacation
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Wide angel view of Avalon from Garden to Sky Summit

We woke fairly early on Saturday. The plan was to go on a walk, and if the weather was good to extend the walk into a hike. After breakfast we headed inland on Sumner, the up the hill on Avalon Canyon Road toward the Wrigley Botanical Gardens and the Wrigley Memorial. William Wrigley’s wife Ada oversaw the creation of the gardens after his death. At the entrance to the gardens we decided to do a longer hike so we grabbed a couple waters. We are usually much more prepared for hikes, with water bladders and snacks, but we weren’t expecting this to be too long of a hike.

The botanical gardens focus on native Catalina plants, and other plants that thrive in this climate. At the top of the Gardens the Wrigley Memorial rises above the valley. It was constructed of mostly native materials, except for some marble surrounding the original resting place of William Wrigley. Although the inscription is still there honoring him, his remains were moved to Pasadena during World War II. There’s a great view from the memorial back toward Avalon.

View from Wrigley Memorial toward Avalon

Here’s another picture from the same spot with me and Jenny in it. There’s a big shadow on the wall, but I didn’t want to crop out the view!

Jenny and me at the Wrigley Memorial

The weather was terrific for hiking, sunny with a cool breeze. Even though we had only brought a couple of granola bars for snacks and only had one bottle of water each, we decided to continue the hike. Memorial Road continues up the hill to the right of the Wrigley Memorial. It is only a 1.2 mile hike from the Memorial to the Garden to Sky Summit. The views get better and better as you climb the hill. It was still fairly early so the sun was low and we were walking in shadows for much of this part of the climb.

This picture Jenny was taken looking back toward Avalon as we walked up Memorial Road.

Jenny Hiking on the Memorial Road to Garden to Sky Summit

When we got to the “summit” there was a fork in the road. There were two signs, one letting us know we had made it!

We made it to Garden to Sky Summit

And the other describing the distance to Avalon on the Divide Road to East Road.

Long hike back on East End Road

We decided that, although it was tempting, we weren’t prepared for another 6.0 miles, so we had a choice of going back down to the Memorial or taking Break Road in the other direction. There was no sign describing where you would end up if you headed the other way on Divide Road, but we knew based on a hand drawn map from one of Jenny’s coworkers that there was another trail leading back to Avalon if we headed that way. There was another younger couple weighing their options and trying to decide which way to go also. Luckily they had a better map, so we were able to determine that it was about 2.5-3 miles to take the loop further up Divide Road to Hermit Gulch Trail. This trail would take us back to the Hermit Gulch Campground. When I got back home I plotted our trail on the map using some route mapping tools on Here’s a map of the whole trail.

Avalon to Wrigley Memorial to Divide Road to Hermit Gulch Trail to Avalon.bmp

Round trip from our hotel it was about 7 miles with a 1300+ foot elevation gain/loss. Before we left Garden to Sky Summit I took a picture in each direction. At this point you could see ocean in the direction of Avalon…

View of Avalon from Garden to Sky Summit

and in the opposite direction also.

On the Break Trail Above Avalon looking away from Avalon

As we headed further up Divide Road toward the upper trail head for Hermit Gulch Trail I snapped this picture looking back toward Garden to Sky Summit. The signs are posted at the road junction near the low point of the road. If you continue to the right, it is 6 miles to Avalon via the East Road, if you take the road to the left it is 1.2 miles to the Wrigley Memorial.

On the Break Trail above Avalon looking back to Junction with Memorial Trail at Garden to Sky Summit

The upper trail head of the Hermit Gulch Trail is marked with a covered raised planter that offers some shade and a place to rest for a bit. This was the highest point we hiked to and the views were terrific. After resting and a quick snack we headed down the Hermit Gulch trail. Up to this point we had been on dirt roads. This is a well maintained trail and the terrific views continued all the way down the trail.

View toward Avalon as we near the bottom of the Hermit Gulch Trail

By the time we got back to Avalon we were very hungry for late lunch – early dinner. After we ate we decided to hang out at the room and enjoy the view. After the sunset I snapped this picture of Avalon Bay from our balcony. I love how well my camera (Nikon S9100) handles low light pictures. In this picture I love the trail of light the moon is making across Avalon Bay and the shooting star on the right hand side of the photo.

A Night view of the moon and a shooting star above Avalon Harbor from our room

Sunday Morning we decided to just hang out in Avalon and enjoy the day. We checked out the small museum in the Casino. It focused a lot on Marilyn Monroe, but there were lots of other bits of information too. The history of the Lookout Cottage was pretty interesting. Built by a bachelor for him and his soon to be wife, but she didn’t like it, they never married, and he stayed a bachelor for the rest of his life. But he got to live in a really cool house!

Lookout Cottage

For lunch we decided to try out the El Galleon Restaurant on Crescent Avenue. The fish and chips hit the spot. It is a uniquely decorated place with lots of character. There was a buffalo head hanging above our table and great views of Avalon Bay.

We did a little shopping and found a nice little memento to put above our cabinets in the kitchen. At some point we decided to head back over to the Descanso Beach Club. As we meandered over there I snapped this picture of Avalon Bay. The large Mansion on the hill (Mount Ada) was where William Wrigley lived in in Avalon. You can now stay in there – for a price…

Avalon Bay with old Wrigley Mansion on the hill

We picked a couple of chase lounges that were still in the sun, had a couple drinks, and enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the view.

Relaxing the last afternoon at the Descanso Beach Club

Then it was time to head to return ferry. I took this picture of Old Ben, a very friendly sea lion who lived in the area from 1898-1920. He was most likely friendly for the food! I guess he was quite a mooch!

Old Ben statue on the way to the Ferry Landing

We were a bit late and ended up sitting outside on the ferry for a chilly ride home. But had a great time in Catalina. We hit some of the things we wanted to do from the top of our list, but still have many more things we’d like to do in Catalina. So we’ll be watching for another Groupon, or possibly a meetup group doing the Trans Catalina trail.

Until then, here are a few more pictures of our last 2 days in Catalina.

Me on Memorial Road hiking from the Wrigley Memorial to Garden to the Sky Summit.

Eric Hiking on the Memorial Road to Garden to Sky Summit

Another moonlit photo from the room.

Night View of the Moon over Avalon Harbor from our room

View of the Casino and the Descanso Beach area from the rocky sea wall near the Casino.

View of Casino and Descanso Beach Area

I took this picture of the Hamilton Bay Villas from the same place. I would like to stay in these on a future trip if we go with a larger group.

Hamilton Cove Villas


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