Cherry Canyon to the Coastal Trail Hike on Santa Rosa Island

The Cherry Canyon Trail is one of the easiest trails to access on the island of Santa Rosa in Channel Islands National Park. This 3.5 mile round trip trail takes you through a small canyon with lots of unique plants and up to a vista point that gives you fantastic views of the Santa Cruz Island in the distance and the Santa Rosa Island shoreline. On the way back you can combine it with the Coastal Trail and loop back to the pier. Here is all the information on this trail, and you can read about my entire trip to the island here.


  • 3.5 miles round trip
  • 100 feet of elevation
  • 3 hour boat ride each way to the island
  • I hiked this in October 2020

Getting There

To get to Santa Rosa Island, you must book a boat trip with Island Packers that leaves from the Ventura Harbor. From there, it is a 3 hour ride over to the island of Santa Rosa, where the trail begins.

The Trail

The trail leaves from the pier where the boat docks, and it heads along the ruins of the old ranch fencing.

After a tenth of a mile, you will make it to some more ranch buildings and the bathrooms before taking a right to continue along the road towards the canyon.

After passing a small bridge, keep your eyes peeled for the spur trail that leaves the main road and heads into Cherry Canyon.

From here, you will be walking through the canyon and passing many of the island’s unique plants.

The trail followed a dry seasonal stream when I went as it bends up and down a few small hills.

Eventually, the trail begins to head up as the canyon widens out.

This part of the trail is not too steep, but there is no shade, and it can be hot.

As the trail continues up, it will reach a series of switchbacks that bring you the rest of the way out of the canyon.

When you crest the small hill, you will be greeted by two picnic benches and amazing views out towards Santa Cruz Island.

This is a great place to relax before heading on.

The trail from here goes along the ridgeline, keeping with the amazing views as you head up a little more.

It then breaks with the trail to Black Mountain, a high point on the island, before beginning the descent down to the campground.

This part of the trail was my favorite, as the views were incredible along the Santa Rosa Island shoreline.

The descent is a little steep here but watch your footing, and you will be good.

When you reach the bottom, you can head right to go to the campground or left across the airstrip to go to the beach.

I recommend going to the beach if you have the time, but once you are done with that, you will follow the road next to the airstrip as you make your way back towards the pier.

Be sure to watch for a sign that says coastal trail off to the right. This is where you will cross the runway and start the coastal trail back to the pier.

This trail is easily my favorite on the island as it walks along the cliffs with stunning views of the beach and off towards Santa Cruz Island.

There are many amazing views here, and you will want to take your time.

It is interesting to see the ranch history in play here as well, with old fence and equipment strewn around the island.

Eventually, at the 3.5 mile mark, you will make it back to the pier.

There are great views of the pier here before you head down, and I recommend soaking it all in.

I hope you enjoyed this fun island hike, and let me know what you think in the comments. You can read about the other Channel Islands here.

Similar Posts