Are you looking for an adventure that offers both breathtaking views and an adrenaline rush? Look no further than bikepacking Catalina Island. This small island off the coast of Southern California offers some of the most picturesque landscapes and challenging terrains for bike enthusiasts. In this guide, we will explore everything you need to know to plan the ultimate bikepacking trip to Catalina Island.

Bikepacking is becoming an increasingly popular activity for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy combining cycling and camping. Catalina Island is a beautiful location located off the coast of Southern California that offers plenty of opportunities for bikepacking adventures. In this article, we will delve into the ins and outs of bikepacking on Catalina Island and provide tips on how to make the most of your trip.

Everything You Need to Know About Bikepacking Catalina Island

What is Bikepacking?

Bikepacking is a combination of camping and mountain biking. It’s a way to explore new territories on two wheels, carrying all the necessary gear and supplies on your bike. Unlike traditional camping, bikepacking allows you to travel farther and faster, and you can access remote areas that are not accessible by car.

Why Choose Catalina Island?

Catalina Island is an ideal destination for bikepacking. It’s a small island, approximately 22 miles long and 8 miles wide, with a population of around 4,000 people. The island has a network of fire roads and single-track trails that offer a wide range of terrain, from steep climbs to technical descents. The island also has a mild climate year-round, with temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

What to Bring

To bikepack Catalina Island, you will need a few essential items:

  • A bikepacking bike: A bikepacking bike is designed to carry all the necessary gear and supplies for your trip. It has a sturdy frame, wide tires, and mounting points for racks and panniers.
  • Bikepacking bags: You will need a frame bag, handlebar bag, and seat bag to carry your gear and supplies.
  • Camping gear: You will need a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and cooking equipment.
  • Clothing: Bring appropriate clothing for the weather conditions, including a rain jacket, warm layers, and sun protection.
  • Food and water: Bring enough food and water for your trip, as there are limited options for resupply on the island.

How to Get There

Catalina Island is accessible by ferry from the mainland. You can take a ferry from several ports in Southern California, including Long Beach, San Pedro, Newport Beach, and Dana Point. The ferry ride takes approximately one hour, and you can bring your bike on board for an additional fee.

Where to Stay

There are several campgrounds on Catalina Island where you can stay during your bikepacking trip. The most popular campgrounds are Two Harbors and Little Harbor, both of which offer primitive camping with no amenities. Two Harbors is located on the isthmus of the island, and Little Harbor is located on the west end of the island. Both campgrounds offer stunning views of the ocean and access to hiking trails and beaches.

Planning Your Bikepacking Trip

Choosing Your Route

Catalina Island has a network of fire roads and single-track trails that offer a variety of terrain for bikepacking. Before you go, research the different routes available and choose one that matches your skill level and fitness level. It’s essential to have a plan and stick to it, as there are limited options for resupply on the island.

Packing Your Gear

When packing your gear, make sure to distribute the weight evenly on your bike. Use a frame bag for heavier items like food and water, a handlebar bag for lighter items like clothing and sleeping gear, and a seat bag for tools and spare parts. It’s also a good idea to pack extra water and food in case of an emergency.

Safety Precautions

Bikepacking can be dangerous, especially on technical terrain. Make sure to wear a helmet and other protective gear, and bring a first aid kit in case of an injury. It’s also essential to let someone know your route and expected return time in case of an emergency.

FAQs – Bikepacking Catalina Island

What is bikepacking?

Bikepacking is a type of cycling where riders carry all their gear on their bikes and travel over long distances, often over multiple days. The goal is to explore new and remote areas not accessible by car, and to challenge oneself both physically and mentally.

Why bikepack Catalina Island?

Catalina Island has a unique combination of rugged terrain, stunning views, and secluded campgrounds that make it an ideal destination for bikepacking. The island’s interior is crisscrossed with a network of challenging dirt roads and trails that offer a thrilling ride and an opportunity to explore the island’s natural beauty up close.

What kind of terrain can I expect?

Catalina Island’s interior is a mix of rocky terrain, steep climbs, and rolling hills. Most of the roads and trails are unpaved and can be challenging, so be prepared for some technical riding. Riders will also encounter sections of sand, loose rocks, and narrow passages that require careful navigation.

What kind of bike is best for bikepacking Catalina Island?

A mountain bike with knobby tires is the best choice for bikepacking Catalina Island. The bike should have front suspension at minimum and ideally full suspension, as some of the trails are quite rough. A bike with multiple gears is also recommended, as there are some steep climbs on the island.

Where can I camp on Catalina Island?

Catalina Island has several designated campgrounds that are open to bikepackers, including Two Harbors, Little Harbor, and Parson’s Landing. These campsites offer basic amenities such as restrooms and water, but be sure to check availability and make reservations well in advance as they can fill up quickly. Additionally, dispersed camping is permitted in some areas of the island with a permit.

What supplies should I bring?

In addition to the usual bikepacking essentials such as a tent, sleeping bag, and stove, be sure to bring plenty of water and food, as access to supplies on the island can be limited. It’s also a good idea to bring a water filter or purification tablets in case you need to refill from natural sources. Bring layers of clothing as temperatures can vary throughout the day and night, and consider packing a GPS device or map to navigate the island’s trails.


By Frank

Frank Thompson, a seasoned cyclist and bike aficionado, has been passionate about all things bicycle-related since his childhood. Born and raised in the beautiful Seattle, Frank has spent countless hours exploring the winding trails, scenic roads, and vibrant urban landscapes on two wheels. With over 20 years of experience in the cycling world, Frank has garnered an extensive knowledge of bicycle mechanics, maintenance, and customization. After completing his degree in Mechanical Engineering, Frank pursued a career in the bicycle industry, working with renowned bike manufacturers and local bike shops. His expertise led him to become a sought-after consultant for professional cyclists, weekend warriors, and bike enthusiasts alike. Throughout the years, he has also volunteered with various cycling advocacy groups, promoting safe and accessible cycling infrastructure in the community. Frank's passion for cycling extends beyond his professional life, as he has participated in numerous local and international bike races and charity events. His love for adventure has taken him on several memorable cycling expeditions, from the breathtaking mountain trails of the Rockies to the picturesque coastal roads of the Mediterranean. As a valued contributor to West Seattle Cyclery, Frank shares his wealth of knowledge and experience with our readers through informative articles, how-to guides, and gear reviews. Always eager to help fellow cyclists, Frank is dedicated to making the world of cycling more approachable and enjoyable for everyone. When he's not busy tinkering with bikes or writing for the blog, you can find him exploring new routes, coaching beginner cyclists, or spending quality time with his family and their beloved golden retriever, Buddy.