A secret side of California
Catalina Island is an escape from the “venti macchiato-fueled drama” of Los Angeles, said Meg Lukens Noonan in National Geographic Adventure. Just 22 miles southwest of Long Beach, Calif., the “76-square-mile island” is a short ferry ride from the mainland, but a world away. Catalina is pure wilderness: “sun-baked hills etched with trails and old fire roads, pocket coves patrolled by sea lions,” and sprawling grasslands roamed by bison. The Trans-Catalina Trail opens this year, taking travelers from the “charming port of Avalon” to the “remote” Parsons Landing on the island’s west coast. After you walk the first six miles of the 27.5-mile route, there’s a chance to catch a shuttle back to Avalon. Should you choose to tackle the entire trail, whose sections are conveniently “linked by several beach and hillside campgrounds,” expect the trip to take four days. But that includes plenty of leisure time for “snorkel trips to kelp forests and kayak outings to caves” before heading back to reality.
Contact: Visitcatalinaisland.com

American history on U.S. 15
“America’s most densely packed historical terrain” lies along U.S. 15, said Joshua Kurlantzick in The New York Times. Running through Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland, the highway passes “crucial sites” from the Revolutionary and Civil wars as well as from the history of American Indians and African-Americans. Nearly 175 miles of U.S. 15 were recently declared a National Heritage Area. The journey begins at the famous battlefield of Gettsyburg, Pa., but it’s the less obvious, less populated stops that offer more lessons in American history. Emmitsburg, Pa., is home to a monument devoted to Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American to be canonized a Catholic saint. Nearby Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park “commemorates a nearly forgotten critical battle of the Civil War,” an early rout by Confederate forces. The “beauty of the journey” is that all these historical sites “lie in plain view, yet almost hidden from the modern world.”
Contact: Hallowedground.org