Lobo Canyon is a gorgeous hike on Santa Rosa Island, part of Channel Islands National Park. The upper part of the canyon is green and lush with many live oak trees draped with Spanish moss. As you descend along the year-round stream the oaks give way to shrubs and grassland bordered by magnificently carved sandstone cliffs. There are many alcoves and caves to explore if you wish. As you go further cool ocean breezes tell you when you're getting close to the beach. At the mouth of Lobo Canyon is the most perfect little white sandy beach cove you've ever seen. Well worth the hike!
Be prepared for strong winds, fog, and changing temperatures. The island is undeveloped and rugged and hiking here is not for those inexperienced or ill-prepared. There are no services on the island beyond restrooms and piped water near the dock and at Water Canyon Campground.
Lobo Canyon Trailhead
First you must get to Santa Rosa Island, either by boat (Island Packers
) or plane (Channel Islands Aviation
). From the boat dock it's about 9 miles round-trip to hike to and down Lobo Canyon to the beach. From the air strip it's 11 miles round-trip. From the campground it's 12 miles round-trip. If you're lucky (we were!) there may be a ranger naturalist who may be able to provide a ride to the trailhead, reducing your hike to about 4 miles and bypassing all the road walking. Otherwise your hiking begins on the Coastal Road which links up to the Smith "Highway" which then leads to the Lobo Canyon Trail. Here's a link to the hiking map for the island
No red tape once you're there, just be safe and Leave no Trace!
Oaks in Lobo Canyon
Water Canyon Campground is about 4 miles from the head of Lobo Canyon. $15/site per night. Reservations required, go to www.recreation.gov
Shade/windbreak structure, picnic table, piped water, and bathroom with flush toilets/sinks/showers provided! No campfires permitted anywhere on the island.
Backcountry beach camping is available mid August through December along Santa Rosa Island's extensive, beautiful, and undeveloped 55-mile coastline. Hiking is along the beach, dirt roads, or unmaintained paths created by island animals. These roads and paths are rugged and mountainous with no signs. Read more about this opportunity here.
Love it here!