This climb offers spectacular views of Catalina Island’s backside as well as Ben Weston Canyon and Beach. The initial stretch, which leads to Camp Cactus, is rather simple, but the rest is more tough. Overall, I would classify this hike as somewhat difficult.
Nuts & Bolts: At the bottom of the page, there’s a GoogleEarth map!
We parked at the intersection of Middle Ranch Road and Camp Cactus Road, drove around the bar gate, and up the ridge to Camp Cactus. I needed my fleece jacket today since it was cool enough, but warm enough that I had to take it off numerous times. Then, when my perspiration dissipated, I’d calm down and put it back on. For the most of the hike, I continued in this fashion.
At the start of the trail
The road is named after Camp Cactus, a WWII radar station. In May of 2011, we went on a trek here. We went to the right, up the slope to the top of the ridge, passing the old fox enclosures (read about them here) and the turn to the ruins of the old buildings. The trail is mostly uphill the entire way to the crest, but not steeply enough to make one feel like they’re going to die. We arrived after about two miles and around 45 minutes. The ocean was absolutely flat, with nothing but ripples on its surface. The higher clouds had dissipated, leaving puffy white cumulus clouds over the water, while a lower marine haze lingered. San Clemente was only a low, lengthy blur on the horizon in the distance.
Camp Cactus Road meets an unknown road that travels along the ridge at this location. We stopped here for a break, ate a snack, and drank some water. I was not in the best of spirits, which shocked me. I didn’t feel like I had pushed myself particularly hard on the way up to the crest, but I felt light-headed and sick just a few feet from the summit, and then my vision began to dim at the edges. It was strange since my legs were tired but yet powerful, and my breathing was heavy but not strained. A 15-minute break, an apple, and a long drink were all I needed to regain my composure.
Thing 1 on one of the more difficult passages
We veered right to follow the track as it wound its way down the ridge. This segment of the hike had a general downward slope, which was noted by all of us at one point or another. Because, on the way back, we all recognised that the downhill parts that had tested my knees would be replaced by uphill sections that would test my quadriceps and lungs. The Things hinted that we’d hiked far enough for one day, that we could enjoy the entire effect of trekking to the overlook without actually hiking to the overlook, and that they were ready to turn around on several occasions. The executive branch of the family vetoed this (i.e. Hubby and me).
We wandered around a while after arriving at the point, took some photos, and I saw a bald eagle soar up Middle Canyon, chased by several lesser birds diving at its body the entire way. It reminded me of a jogger being pursued by a pack of yipping chihuahuas. Although not large enough to pose a serious hazard, it is likely to be bothersome.
Ben Weston Beach in the background with the guys
We began our return journey around 1315. The preceding downhill sections were indeed challenging, and we did not make very quick pace. Around 1405, we arrived at the Camp Cactus Road intersection. We were picking up our gear for the drive home by 1455, after a long (mainly downhill) trek to the truck.
Northern raven, Orange-crowned warbler, Bald eagle, and a few House finches
Scarlet pimpernel, yarrow, shooting star, prickly pear, and lupines are among the blossoming flowers.