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El Montañon Ridge & High Mount Benchmark

On Saturday Morning I woke up at 4am preparing for my awesome adventure to the Santa Cruz Island, which is the largest of the group of the Channel Islands National Park.  

I set foot on the boat traveling to Scorpion Harbor which departs Ventura Harbor at 8am sharp!

The crew from the Island Packers which is the company that takes you to the Santa Cruz Island, informed us that weather conditions might force us to find an alternative route & hike.
So far the weather was looking great and the Sea lions seem to agree.

FYI, the pier at Scorpion Harbor was damaged a couple years ago and so we had to transfer over to a skiff boat (6 people per skiff) and were dropped off on the beach.

This was the view from the boat when we were approaching the island but it soon cleared up.

After a quick snack and change of shoes, we finally headed up the access road to the bluff which contours around and meanders along the cliffs towards the Scorpion Canyon Loop Trail sign.

There are two ways to approach Montanon Ridge where the trail splits, we elected to take the scenic route through Smugglers Cove where we hiked through an Olive Grove and stopped for lunch at the beach.

Sign on the beach

We continued ascending up the ridge and traversing through a use faint trail through some light brush. The ridge is clearly visible at this point.

At one point from the Ridge you could get awesome views of the Olive Grove down below.

Another awesome view of Anacapa Island, which is my next destination.

The Steep uphill climb up the Montanon Ridge is made up of volcanic rock. Some areas are loose and crumbly. There is a number of false summits, in which you are climbing up and down. You end up climbing about 3000 ft gain to reach and 1800 ft summit.

I just couldn't resist climbing these rocks on the ridge!

Point 1800' just before the the 800 ft climb to the summit of El Montanon, which is the high point of El Montanon Ridge.

A glympse of El Montanon before the final push to the summit.

The High Mount Bench Mark is at the summit. There is a register with the cutest, smallest, register box I have ever seen. The register book seems to be missing but there are tons of loose papers with signatures.

I found a copy of a map and signed it.

I was so excited to find Reference Marks 1 & 2 and a Triangular Station BM

After bagging this peak, we headed down the ridge passing by Prisoners, and headed towards the Scorpion Canyon Loop Trail.

On the descent we passed a very scenic route,  an old oil rig, some white rocks along the trail and at the tail end of the hike a campground on the way back to the beach.

We started boarding the skiff boats at 4:15pm, as we were told because the last boat departing Santa Cruz back to Ventura was at 5pm.

The sunset on our departure.

Overall, it was an awesome day! This was my first hike on one of the Channel Islands and it was well worth the boat, skiff ride, and the never ending steep ridge climb with scenic views surrounding the island. It was an 11 mile hike  

I failed to find Pt 1532' BM that I read about. I couldn't find it on the descent from the summit and there weren't  many TR's on this hike. The earliest TR I found was written in 2012.

Great trip and photos! I was just starting to research this.

Did you do the skiff landing, and if so, were you able to keep your pack dry?

Also, was a lot warmer once you got away from the beach?

I think Uncle Rico does a pilgrimage to Santa Cruz every year.

tekewin wrote:
Great trip and photos! I was just starting to research this.

Did you do the skiff landing, and if so, were you able to keep your pack dry?

Also, was a lot warmer once you got away from the beach?

I think Uncle Rico does a pilgrimage to Santa Cruz every year.

Hi takewin
Yes I did the skiff boat. That's the only way to go! The crew is  great  They put your packs in a waterproof duffle bag or you can wear them and any thing extra you are carrying can be put in the bag!. Your shoes really don't get soaked but I wore my water sandals and changed to my boots on the island. They have lockers for storage of extra items that are free!

Oh yes it was hot!!! The trail we took mostly exposed.  However if you take the Smugglers cove route there's a shaded  Olive grove area by the beach.

I enjoyed the ocean breezes on the descent.

I knew you would appreciate this hike! I'm still jealous that you Sean and Dima went to Catlina without me

I appreciate the beta. The skiff landing sounds fun. Catalina was terribly hot in the summer, not the best time to do it. You should come along on the next one.

Your best TR yet! I like that olive grove pic.

Excellent...  I hope to get over to the islands next year, if the tourist boats go to San Miguel. ...which looks improbable. Maybe just swim for it(joke).

Neat adventure. That's really a full day. Forum Index -> SoCal
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"Their only motive was a great ideal; this was what linked together mountaineers so widely dissimilar in background and so diverse in character."
Maurice Herzog, Annapurna