Cavern Point and Potato Harbor Trail

Cavern Point and Potato Harbor Trail

Hiking Cavern Point and Potato Harbor Trail

Channel Islands is a beautiful archipelago off the Southwest Coast of California that encompasses eight islands. The National Park makes up five of the eight islands. The trail to Cavern Point and Potato Harbor Trail is located on the parks biggest, Santa Cruz island. Channel Islands National Park is unique in that the park helps to ensure that the islands remain mostly untouched from human activity.

The islands themselves actually used to be geographically closer to San Diego. Under a geological concept known as  tectonic plate mechanisms, the islands slowly made their way northward. The result is an environment that shows what immediate coastal Southern California would look like without any human involvement. The only other area to quite possibly see this type of environment would be on the areas of Camp Pendleton just off Interstate-5 which remains the only open land between San Diego and Orange County.

Santa Cruz island is the largest of the eight islands and features hiking trails, kayaking, and camping. Please note, when camping no campfires are allowed on the entire island. Channel Islands National Park is also a marine sanctuary where the coastal waters up to six nautical miles offshore are protected. The high level of protection of this park offers an incredible opportunity to view unique animals such as the Island Fox, marine wildlife, and lately, a reintroduction of bald eagles to the area.

On A Personal Note:

Cavern Point and Potato Harbor trial is actually a combination of two trails. Cavern Point is a loop trail that winds up from Scorpion Harbor. According to the National Park Service, the trail is about two miles but it’s much shorter. Potato Harbor is an out and back trail that begins in the same area and is listed as five miles by the National Park Service. In reality, it’s much shorter. I recommend combining the two trails for while there. For more on getting to the island, see the trail directions below.

Do you have any updates to the hiking trail or want to share your hike/pictures? Please leave a comment below.

  • Overall Difficulty: 45% 45%
  • Overall Views: 75% 75%
Cavern Point and Potato Harbor Trail Quick Facts:
  • Elevation: 538 feet.
  • Elevation Gain: 406 feet.
  • Estimated Distance: 7 miles (according to the NPS) .
  • My Actual Distance: 5 miles
  • Estimated Time: 2-4 hours.
  • My Time: 2 hours 29 minutes (moving), 3 hours 27 minutes total.  
Cavern Point and Potato Harbor Trail Directions:
Open in maps. The trail to Cavern Point begins at Scorpion Ranch just a short distance away from Scorpion Harbor. Since this is an island, there are two options of getting here. You can have your own boating arrangements made or you can go through the folks at Island Packers to arrange a visit. Once at the harbor continue about half a mile to Scorpion Ranch where the trail to Cavern Point begins. Cost is admission of the boat tour.
Cavern Point and Potato Harbor Trail Pictures:
Who Cavern Point and Potato Harbor Trail Is For:
Novice Hikers: This is a great day hike for just about anyone  visiting Santa Cruz Island. The bulk of the difficulty is coming up and down a mild elevation gain and for most people wouldn’t be too difficult. The most difficult part of the trail is coming up off of the Scorpion Ranch trailhead. Once you get to Cavern Point, see how you feel and if you’d like to continue to Potato Harbor or continue the loop back to Scorpion Ranch.

Advanced Hikers: This is a very mild trail that will offer great coastal views. The trail should take about three hours at most so make sure you have something else planned for your day if you’re waiting for the boat to return.

Expert Hikers: Same.

It’s always a good idea to be aware of what type of hiking level you’re at.

Best Time Of Year To Hike Cavern Point and Potato Harbor Trail:
This trail is generally great year round. Winters can be cool with intermittent rain. In my opinion, Spring would probably be the nicest time of year to hike this trail as the plant life will be fresh from any rain that was received during the winter. Ocean temperatures keep the immediate coast with a cool breeze year round. With that being said, summers can still be in the valleys sheltered from any ocean breeze. Prepare for full exposure to the elements and plan accordingly.
Cavern Point and Potato Harbor Trail Conditions:

About The Author

The Simple Hiker

Husband. Father. ER nurse. Hiker. Nature lover.

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