Middle of San Francisco Bay
Date of visit:
August 19-20, 2011
Quite nice, considering it was the San Francisco Bay in summer! Â It was in the mid to upper 60s when we arrived on the island via ferry. Â I still wore a long sleeved shirt to hike to camp and quickly put on my down jacket and hat/gloves as evening progressed, but it was never uncomfortably cold. Â Overnight low inside our tent was 56F.
(photo copyright April Tse)
Note that while the temperature was pleasant, it was extremely windy, even on the more-sheltered eastern site of the island. Â The internet tells me that winds on Friday, August 19 were 15-25 knots, or 17 to 28 miles per hour.
Getting to Angel Island
The island is accessible via private boat or by ferry.
Ferries run a few times per day from both Tiburon and Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Â More information atÂ http://www.angelisland.com/getting_to_the_island/index.php
For more information on specifically the Tiburon ferry, see:Â http://www.angelislandferry.com/
Note that if you take the Tiburon ferry, the parking lot behind the bank (on your left just after Beach St) is $5/day. Â The parking lot seemed safe and secure and we had no issues leaving the truck overnight.
Peter and I on the ferry:
(Photo copyright April Tse)
* Because of the limited number of spaces and the sheer awesomeness of the location, be prepared to do a little bit of work to camp on Angel Island. Â The California Park Service opens up camping reservations six months in advance at reserveamerica.com — you’ll need to be on the site at 8am sharp on the first day of the month six months before you want to go (example: we booked our site at 8am on February 1, 2011 for a camping trip in mid-August). The sites were all sold out for August at about 8:05am on 2/1.
* There are 9 campsites on Angel Island: 3 at Ridge on the southwestern side of the island, Â 3 at East Bay on the northeastern side, and 3 at Sunrise on the southeastern side. Â The information below is only for the East Bay sites as we didn’t go to any of the other campground areas.
* Note that the campsites are all hike-in. Â It was about 2 miles from the ferry dock to the East Bay campsites, with some steep elevation in places. Â The trail was still fairly easy, even with my janky back and our friend Gwenn’s janky knee. Â Many people we saw camping brought Radio Flyer type wagons or jogging strollers loaded with coolers/bags/etc for their gear. Â We took some shortcuts on steep stairs/unpaved trails that would have made that impossible (you could take the paved road most of the way to the campsite but it’d be longer and not as interesting).
* The campsites have good privacy from one another. Â Sites 2 and 3 are close enough together that it’s very convenient to get between them; Site 1 is out of sight from the other two and is a good deal larger.
* Site 1 at East Bay looked to have some flat spots but be forewarned that Sites 2 and 3 are sloped. Â It wasn’t horrible — just make sure to stake the tent so that your head is uphill — but it is noticeable.
* Each individual site has a BBQ, food locker, and picnic table. The three East Bay campsites share a common area along the path with a pit toilet, water spigot, garbage cans, and recycling cans. Â Use the food locker: there are lots of raccoons!
* The bathroom is, well, a pit toilet. Â It wasn’t the most offensive pit toilet I’ve ever used, but the smell was pretty overwhelming (more from the chemically smell than of waste). Â Holding one’s nose for the duration was recommended and worked wellt. Â Toilet paper is provided.
* The island has a wood fire ban at all times: charcoal and camp stove cooking only. Â It’s hard to complain when you think about what a wood fire can do.
What to do:
* There’s way more to do at Angel Island than I could possibly list out. Â Here are a few things and some websites to go to for more information.
* A cafe, tram tours, and bike rentals are available seasonally (see www.angelisland.com for schedule)
* The Angel Island Company operates Segway tours on the island. Â Tour prices are $65/person and are limited to people 16 years or older.
* The Cove Cafe near the ferry dock has live music seasonally on weekends. Â The food and beer were pretty good. http://www.angelisland.com/cove_cafe/index.php
* The island has 13 miles of trails and roadways for hiking. Â There are 9 paved miles of roadways for bicyclists. Â http://www.bahiker.com/northbayhikes/angelisland.html
* There are many historic sites on Angel Island (available via hiking or bicycling), including Civil War buildings, a Nike missile battery, and most notably, the Immigration Station where primarily Chinese immigrants were detained. Â http://angelisland.org/history/
For more information on Angel Island:
Hiking from the ferry dock to the East Bay campsites:
Great views of Ayala Cove on the hike to the campsite:
Because of the wind, we moved to neighboring — and empty — Site #2 for the night. Â It was much more protected from the wind.
When not sleeping, we still hung out at Site #3 because of the better view.
April took this neat photo of me taking a photo:
(Photo copyright April Tse)
View from Site #3 at night:
View of San Francisco in the morning from Site #3:
Not a bad view for breakfast!
In a tree at Site #2:
The intrepid adventurers getting ready to hike back down to the ferry dock:
Ridge Road heading back down to Ayala Cove:
Donor memorial at the Immigration Station:
The Northridge trail shortcut has some pretty steep steps:
View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the ferry back to Tiburon:
What’s a trip without ice cream? Â This is the Grass Shack organic ice cream parlor back in Tiburon.