Santa Cruz Island Wilderness Escape: Exploring Scorpion Anchorage

In June 2017, we escaped from the city for a unique overnight backpacking adventure on Santa Cruz Island, the largest of 5 islands in Channel Island National Park!

Click here to join our next wilderness escape to Santa Cruz island April 21-22, 2018!

Words by Trip Leader Heather Bixby. Photos by Triptographer Kyle Miyamoto.

Our adventure began at Ventura Harbor, where we caught a ferry ride to Scorpion Anchorage. We enjoyed getting to know one another as we took in the serene ocean views and even enjoyed a few epic laughs. As we approached the island, the waves started to splash over the boat, giving one of our family members a little cool down before our trek to camp. (Ahem, Tyson!)

Upon landing, we set-up camp and fueled up on quesadillas and guacamole before our 8.5-mile round-trip hike to Smuggler’s Cove and an abandoned oil well on the Scorpion Canyon Loop Trail.

When we arrived to Smuggler’s Cove, we found a table to sit and enjoy the view, while some explored the tide pools.

Fun Fact: Smuggler’s Cove got its name during the Prohibition Era. The U.S. government allowed the Mexican government to smuggle alcohol here for inhabitants of the island!

Tyson taught us about geology!
Scorpion Cove
Abandoned Oil Well

Back at camp, we threw a backpacker’s pizza party! Each person chose their toppings, then we worked together to create an “oven” by placing on pan on top of the other to melt the cheese.

After dinner, some of us watched a video about the island at the Visitor Center, while the rest of us stayed back to continue resting our feet. Once the sun went down, we gathered at the pier to watch the bioluminescent plankton dancing in the water. They mirrored the night sky with an occasional “shooting star.” It was incredible!

On Day 2, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast.

After we were fueled and caffeinated, we packed up camp and dropped off our gear before starting our second hike, a 5-mile hike to Cavern Point and Potato Harbor, which offered non-stop coastal views! We found a nice spot to enjoy lunch.

On our hike back, Stan noticed an unusual light in the sky. John informed us it was a satellite launch! Our timing couldn’t have been better.

When we arrived back to the pier, some of us explored the visitor center while others of us took in the coastal views from the island a bit longer. Then we caught our ferry back to Ventura Harbor!

It was truly an awesome trip with some truly beautiful people!

Special thanks to the amazing Shoestring Warriors of Santa Cruz Island June 2017: Stan, Tyson, John, Derek, Kyle, Heather & Cyndee!

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