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Prisoners Harbor, SCI K-12 Education

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Per Person

Prisoners Harbor, Santa Cruz Island – Full Day Trip

Mature students and/or smaller groups may want to consider the Pelican Trail hike at Prisoners Harbor. This trail is considered one of the most diverse hikes on the islands. Trail highlights include lush native vegetation and spectacular vistas. Education themes are similar to those described for Scorpion Ranch with an emphasis on restoration and conservation. (Requires special permission and release forms to visit The Nature Conservancy property).

What makes this destination unique?

a group of people walking down a dirt roadPrisoners Harbor is located where the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) boundaries meet, giving unique access to the Pelican Bay Trail. This trail offers beautiful vistas that overlook the Santa Barbara Channel and all its rich marine diversity. It also traverses several different vegetation habitats, providing the best opportunity to see the most diversity of endemic species of any trail on Santa Cruz. This vegetation provides habitat for many bird species as well, including the endemic Island Scrub Jay, which is found nowhere else in the world. The Harbor area still houses an old ranch storage building and an archaeological site that offer a window into the rich cultural past of this island.

What will my students experience?

a large tree in a forestThere is always an opportunity to see wildlife en-route to the islands, and we definitely brake for whales and dolphins! Once ashore, students will have a lunch break and then take a guided hike with their naturalist. Our naturalists are trained on the unique natural and cultural resources found in Channel Islands National Park, and have a large repertoire of activities to reinforce the information they present. Possible science themes include adaptation, habitats, native and endemic organisms, introduced species, research and restoration, marine ecology, and geology. Social science themes may include native inhabitants and explorers.

What is the physical exertion involved?

a group of people walking up a hillThe boat trip to Prisoners will take 1½ hours. Arriving at the Harbor, be prepared to step from the boat to a ladder, where you will climb 2-5 rungs to the pier. The distance of the hike is dependent on the pace and skills of each group. Distance can range from 1½ & 4 miles with multiple elevation changes of 150-200 feet, including some steep rocky terrain. The trail is rated “Moderate to Strenuous” by the Park Service, and is recommended for more mature students and/or small groups.