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Hike to East Point via the Coastal Road on Santa Rosa Island

Santa Barbara County, California


Added by Josiah Roe

Stunning views of Bechers Bay, Skunk Point, and the rugged southwest shore of Santa Rosa Island, one of the most remote and least visit of the islands in Channel Islands National Park.

One could a lifetime exploring, and attempting to describe, the beauty of the Channel Islands National Park and Santa Rosa Island in particular: its wildly diverse terrain, endemic flora and fauna, and also the only of the Islands to allow backcountry beach camping. While the opportunities for discovery are endless, heartier souls looking for a view of the rugged southeast coast *and* seal lions and elephants seals would do well to look to hiking the 16 miles (out and back) to the East Point.

Getting to the Island is the first step. Your first option by a 2-2.5 hr ferry ride from Island Packers which departs from Ventura Harbor. Your other option is a short plane trip via Channel Islands Aviation.

Your next step is to secure your National Park Pass and if camping, a permit from the National Park Service or by phone at (877) 444-6777.

The standard route (16 miles roundtrip) to the East Point begins at Water Canyon Campground, proceeding out of the campground taking a right on the Coast Road and following it all the way till it dead ends, passing Skunk Point and the Southeast Anchorage along the way. 

Be forewarned, numerous sections of the road are washed out and during winter and spring will require getting your feet wet at several crossings, though that time of year also affords wildflowers and grass so green you'll feel you're in Ireland. 

Also be sure to wear long pants, and the trail/road can be quite overgrown and your boots and pants will get full of stickers.

You can head back to camp the way you came or for the more long-distance type, can take the Sierra Pablo Road SSW up the ridge overlooking the southern coast of the island till it meets with the South Road taking you NE back to the Coast Road and the campground. This makes for a roundtrip of about 22 miles.

Note that from 3/1 to 9/15 that the back beaches between Skunk Point and East Point are closed due to pinniped breeding and pupping.  

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