Santa Cruz Island

Channel Islands National Park

More from Ventura County

Santa Cruz Island is the largest of the Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Southern California. This island sits just to the west of the smaller Anacapa Island with it’s famous lighthouse. The most popular area to visit is Scorpion Anchorage, which features a dock for the ferries and a campground about a quarter of a mile from shore. This campground is the only site in the island chain that has water available, which makes it an easy place to camp. The Scorpion Anchorage area is also popular for ocean kayakers and scuba divers, as well as those wanting to hike deep into the island.

The hike we are talking about here is the 7.5 mile out-and-back trail to Smugglers Cove. Starting from Scorpion Anchorage, the trail rises up to a large plateau with wide views of the Santa Barbara Channel, the Ventura coast, as well as the Santa Monica Mountains. If you are familiar with the terrain of the Santa Monica’s, this will feel at home for you. The path will then descend into Smuggler’s Cove and you be welcomed by an old ranch house and the olive grove that accompanied it. Smuggler’s Cove is a quiet and secluded beach, a rare thing for Southern California.