Backpacking Parsons Landing, Catalina Island.
Beach camping in Southern California at its finest.
Parsons Landing is truly a spectacular place. If you’re looking for an amazing backpacking trip in Southern California this is it and it’s only a short drive to Long Beach. From there, take the Catalina Express out of San Pedro for a 1.5 hour ride to the lesser known town on the Island, Two Harbors. This small island town has a population of 298 and boasts a total of 4 lodging options. It is an outdoor lover’s paradise and is packed with boy scouts and divers alike.
You start the hike to Parsons Landing right as you get off the boat, which is approximately 7.5 miles away from the dock. The trail hugs the pristine California coastline offering stunning views of the rich blue water below. This is an easy hike with a well-defined, clearly marked trail but when you have nearly fifty pounds on your back it can be exhausting. Luckily, there are plenty of outlooks with benches along the trail providing a place to rest and take in the views.
Once at Parsons Landing you set up your tent next to one of the many rock walls, which act as wind breaks made by previous campers. We stayed at site #8 on the far end. We chose this site because it was closest to the water and didn’t have a site on one side. Sites #1 and #2 are also nice and secluded. One thing worthy of note about this campground is its’ exposure to wind, so make sure you come prepared for that. When we camped here in October, we experienced a big lighting and thunder storm. The sky poured rain on us one night, and it was pretty spectacular to say the least!
The natural surroundings of Parsons Landing provide a myriad of activities. You can hike one of the many surrounding trails, some of which climb into the hills where you can see bison if you’re lucky. The beach in front of the campground has a reef off shore where you can snorkel. While I was there, there were a few dive boats dropping off and picking up groups of scuba divers. If you’re not up for any of that then just relax and take in the natural beauty. Parsons Landing is one of the most beautiful places to camp in Southern California.
The hike back is the same way you came in. Once you get back to Two Harbors have a cold beer and enjoy a buffalo burger at the small restaurant/bar in town before catching the boat back to San Pedro. Camping Parsons Landing really makes you feel like you’re a thousand miles away in a far off land when in reality it is only 22 miles away from Los Angeles. The remote location, beauty, and accessibility makes backpacking Parsons Landing a truly unique experience, seldom found in Southern California.