Although most of this route is on fire roads and streets, the views make up for the lack of technical trails. You could theoretically get on the first boat of the morning, do this loop, and take the last boat home, but it is definitely worth staying over a day or two to enjoy all that this quaint little community has to offer.
Catalina Flyer offers boat trips out of Newport Beach. Catalina Express offers trips from San Pedro, Long Beach, and Dana Point. For either of those, you’ll need to RSVP in advance and be sure to get the tickets to transort your bike as well.
The trip described here begins at the Catalina Island Conservancy office; a place you’re going to have to visit to get a pass to enter the back country. The conservancy office is located at 125 Claresa Ave. Their phone number is 310-510-2595. More information can be found at their website: http://www.catalinaconservancy.org. The cost is $35 for an annual “Freewheeler” pass. If you plan well enough ahead, you can buy your pass on their website: go to Join / Engage >>> Become a member >> and then select the “Friend” option to buy your pass.
From the Conservancy office, go toward the beach and turn right on Crescent Ave. Turn left on Pebbly Beach Rd and follow the contour of the island. Just past the big boat docks, you may see a sign that says no bikes. Ignore it if you have your bike permit. Do not pass if you do not have your permit!
Within a couple miles you will see the Edison Desalination plant on your left and a hair pin turn to your right leading up Wrigley Rd. Turn right there. NOTE: Going any further on Pebbly Beach Rd will result in a rather unpleasant experience and ultimately, a bunch of dead ends.
Within about a mile, the Renton Mile Road (unpaved fire road) begins on your left. Turn left and go up this road.
The next several miles of grueling climbing are about the worst you will experience all day. Fortunately, it is over pretty quick and before you know it you will see the ocean on the east side of the island. Be sure to pay attention to the signs. They are all pretty obvious. When you get to the sign that reads “Renton Mine Rd (left) Dead End (right)”, look down into the canyon. You’ll see remnants of the old mine there. If you look around the hillsides, you might even seen remnants of the cable system that was used to ferry the silver ore out of this mine in the early 18th century.
A short while later, you will be rewarded with your first vista views of Avalon off to your right. At about the 9 mile mark, you will have reached the high point (approx 1600 feet) of the ride and you will then start to descend rapidly. At about the 11 mile mark, you will reach the intersection of the Memorial Trail (hikers only) and the East End Rd. This is a good place to take a break and enjoy the ocean views on both sides of the island.
Continue on the fire road until you reach the gate. Depending on whether or not the Catalina Conservancy folks have been following you or not, the gate may or may not be open. If it’s closed, you can call the office to have someone come open it for you. Also: beware of the resident Bison that typically hang out in this area. Although they’re not typically agressive, you never know: this might be a bad day for them!
Take the super fast and steep road down back to town. Be careful on the way down – watch out for trams and golf carts.
Other things to do in Avalon:
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