Location – Montañon Ridge, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park
Distance – 8 mile round trip
Terrain Type – Scrubs and small trees, this hike runs inside the island with a steady ascend to the peak. It does not have any ocean views like the Potato Harbor hike and early morning fog can impede your vantage point when you get to the top of the ridge.
Difficulty – Moderate to strenuous
Duration– 3.5 hours at a leisure pace
We were expecting more friends to join us on the mid Saturday ferry. Instead of waiting for them to arrive, we decided to do an early morning hike to Montañon Ridge and catch up with them around lunch time. The hiking distance for Montañon Ridge is 8 miles roundtrip with about 1,000 ft elevation gain. We worked up a pretty good sweat hiking up to the ridge even though the weather was cloudy and cool in the morning.
About half way up the ridge we came upon an abandoned oil well on the side of the trail. From our discussion with the park ranger, oil is present on the island and the oil was probably dug in the late 1800s or early 1900s during the time when sheep ranchers roamed the island. I couldn’t find much information about the well online and no really know whether the well was successful at finding oil.
Shortly after passing the oil well the trail becomes less clear as the recent rain storms wiped out a good portion of the trail. Nonetheless, it was still easy to see the general direction of the trail as we continued climbing.
Once we reached the top of the ridge, a heavy marine layer suddenly came inland making it virtually impossible for us to see more than 20 feet in front of us.