Angel Island State Park

California, United States
provided by
 (15 votes, 15 reviews)
Perched in the midst of gorgeous San Francisco Bay, Angel Island State Park offers truly spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline, the Marin Headlands and Mount Tamalpais.

The island is also alive with history. Three thousand years ago the island was a fishing and hunting site for Coastal Miwok Indians. It was later a haven for Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala, a cattle ranch, and a U.S. Army post.

From 1910 to 1940, the island processed hundreds of thousands of immigrants, the majority from China. During World War II, Japanese, and German POWs were held on the island, which was also used as a jumping-off point for American soldiers returning from the Pacific. In the '50s and '60s, the island was home to a Nike missile base.

Today, there is one automated active Coast Guard station - at Point Blunt - on the island (this area is off limits). Angel Island became a State Park in 1954.

California State Park Foundation member discounts are available for this park. If you are a member, sign in to see the discount here.
Natural History
Before the influence of human residence and use, the flora and fauna of Angel Island were very similar to those of nearby mainland areas in Marin County. North- and east-facing slopes were covered with oak woodland, while native grasses and north coast scrub were predominant on west and south-facing slopes. Indian use of fire almost certainly accounts for the extension of grassland environment and the restriction of forest and brush land that is apparent in early paintings and photographs of the island.

In the nineteenth century, a number of highly aggressive European grasses (mostly annuals) began to replace the native grasses (mostly perennials), and firewood cutters chopped down much of the oak forest on the northeast side of the island. Native trees and shrubs have now recovered to a large extent, and can be found prospering along with a wide variety of introduced plants brought to the island by military personnel and others during the last century. Oak, bay, and madrone trees, sagebrush, chamise, Manzanita, toyon, elderberry, and coyote brush are native to the island. Eucalyptus, Monterey pine, Douglas-fir, Monterey cypress, black locust, Australian tea trees, Portuguese cork oaks, and other trees and shrubs were planted on the island by the military. Wildflowers are abundant.

Animal and bird life is wonderfully diverse; both land and seashore species can be seen. Seals and sea lions can sometimes be seen and heard, deer and raccoons also live on the island. Birds that are often seen include robins, scrub jays, sparrows, juncos, hummingbirds, flickers, hawks, owls, sea gulls, ducks, egrets, grebes, scoters, and kingfishers. Blue herons, pelicans (both brown and white), and many other waterfowl can be seen feeding offshore or flying over the island on their way to feeding grounds in other parts of the bay. Salmon, striped bass, and other fish migrate between the ocean and the Sacramento River Delta through Raccoon Strait. The island is also notable for the animals that are not found there. For example, there are no squirrels, rabbits, foxes, skunks, opossums, coyotes or rattlesnakes.
Cultural History
Early Inhabitants
Coast Miwok began visiting the island about 2,000 years ago. The Miwok established camps and used the island primarily as a fishing and hunting site. In 1775, Lt. Juan Manuel de Ayala, a Spanish navigator, sailed the San Carlos into San Francisco Bay and anchored in what is now Ayala Cove. With his pilot, José de Cañizares, he developed one of the first maps of San Francisco Bay. They christened the island Isla de Los Angeles.

The Army on Angel Island
In 1863, during the Civil War, the U.S. Army established Camp Reynolds on Angel Island to protect San Francisco Bay. The island later became a garrison for infantry companies, including infantry serving in campaigns against American Indians in the West.

The Army designated the entire island “Fort McDowell,” and renamed Camp Reynolds the West Garrison in 1900. New facilities at Quarry Point, called East Garrison, evolved from a detention camp for soldiers returning from the Spanish-American war to a discharge depot. During World War I, East Garrison served as a recruitment and replacement depot and a discharge point for troops returning from the war.

Angel Island was an embarkation site for troops headed toward the Pacific war zone during World War II and a processing facility for prisoners of war. When troops returned from the war, a 60-foot sign with the illuminated words “Welcome Home, Well Done” greeted them from the island. In July 1946, the Army abandoned the island, declaring it surplus property.

The Army returned during the Cold War to build a Nike missile battery. By 1962 the system had become obsolete, and the Army decommissioned the base and left the island. Most of the island was turned over to California State Parks in 1963.

The Quarantine Station
In 1891 a Quarantine Station was opened at Ayala Cove (then known as Hospital Cove), where ships from foreign ports could be fumigated and immigrants suspected of carrying diseases could be kept in isolation. As better medical examinations at the ports of embarkation and improved medical practices made lengthy quarantines unnecessary, the U.S. Public Health Service abandoned the Quarantine Station and moved to San Francisco.

The U. S. Immigration Station
From 1910 to 1940, the United States Immigration Station (USIS), nicknamed “the Guardian of the Western Gate,” processed nearly a million immigrants from more than 80 countries. Immigration staff ensured that new arrivals were healthy and self-sufficient. Chinese persons were specifically excluded from immigrating to the U. S. by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Most of the 175,000 Chinese arriving at Angel Island were detained for three to ninety days - a few for almost two years - while their applications were considered. Due to appeals, most immigrants were eventually granted entry to America. European immigrants and first-class passengers faced only an inspection aboard ship and were detained less frequently.

Many detainees expressed their anxiety and despair by writing and carving on the wooden walls. Some Chinese wrote emotional poems, still legible today. A 1940 fire destroyed the administration building, closing the USIS. The first restoration phase of this National Historic Landmark has been completed as a tribute to immigrants from around the world.
Accessible Features
A number of facilities are accessible, but the island is extremely hilly. For persons with limited mobility who may need assistance, advance notice the Cove Café at 415-435-3392 is strongly recommended.

Tiburon Shore Access Area
Boarding Dock: The curbside drop-off area and the ferry boarding dock are generally accessible.
Restrooms: Boats have no restrooms. Public restrooms adjacent to the boarding dock are generally accessible. Parking: City parking closest to pier includes accessible spaces. Paths of travel between these facilities are generally accessible.

Ayala Cove Area
Restrooms: Accessible restroom facilities are available in Ayala Cove.
Tram Tours: Narrated (taped) one-hour tram tours depart from the Ayala Cove Café on varied schedules from spring through early fall. Written transcripts are available on request. Portable lifts provide wheelchair access to two trams with wheelchair spaces. For more tram information, visit www.angelisland.com or phone 415-897-0715.
Gift Shop: Space is tight but the sales kiosk is generally accessible.
Cove Café: A ramp provides front entry. Some assistance may be needed at threshold. Seating is accessible. Sales and food counters are slightly high, but assistance is available.
Visitor Center: Open daily, the Ayala Cove visitor center offers a captioned video about Chinese immigration history on Angel Island and a video on the general history of Angel Island. A ramped side entry provides wheelchair access. Front stairs lack handrails. Exhibits are generally accessible.

East Garrison Area
The Guardhouse/Visitor Center is generally accessible. Most exhibits are generally accessible. A lift in the ground floor provides access to the main floor.
A restroom near the lift entry is generally accessible.

West Garrison Area
A generally accessible restroom is near the West Garrison Hospital.
Officers Quarters 10 is a house museum with a historic brick path of travel to a usable ramped entry and to the first floor, and the historic Bake House is accessible via brick path and concrete ramp.
Getting There
Access to the Island is by private boat or public ferry from San Francisco, Tiburon and seasonal service from Oakland and Alameda. There is limited weekday ferry service to Angel Island during the winter (check with ferry provider).

Several ferries are available during the peak season to take you to Angel Island.

Oakland/Alameda Ferry
San Francisco Ferry
415-773-1188
www.blueandgoldfleet.com

Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry
415-435-2131
angelislandferry.com

Tram Tours
415-897-0715
angelisland.com

Please be advised, Angel Island SP is one of the few California State Parks that does not accept the Annual Day Use Pass.
Operating Hours & Contact
8am to sunset
Telephone: 415-435-5390
Camping
The park’s four environmental camping areas have water and pit toilets nearby. The East Bay Sites are generally protected from wind. The more exposed Ridge Sites offer views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. The Sunrise Sites can be reserved individually or combined as a group camp for up to 24 people. The Kayak Camp on the west side - near a small beach - also accommodates groups up to 20. Kayak campers must secure their boats from high tidewaters. Campers must carry their equipment up to two miles and bring camp stoves or charcoal, as no wood fires are allowed on the island.

Make Campground Reservations
Activities
The beaches at Quarry Point and Ayala Cove are both sandy and protected from the afternoon breezes that so often blow in from the ocean through the Golden Gate. Quarry Beach is especially pleasant for sunbathing. There are no lifeguards, and swimming can be hazardous because of the very strong currents that run past the island with each change of tide. The water at Perle's Beach is considerably rougher, and the beach is more exposed to wind and weather. The view, however, is spectacular, and Perle's Beach is a delightful place for walking and general beachcombing.

Hikers have 13 miles of trails and roadways while cyclists have access to nine paved miles. Foot trails and fire roads circle the entire island, and climb to the 788-foot-high summit of Mount Caroline Livermore. They are closed to bicycles for safety and resource protection. Special caution should be used around the historic buildings, and in the vicinity of the bluffs, which tend to erode easily, and provide unreliable footing. The main trails are well marked, and are designed to avoid most hazards, including the poison oak that is native to the region. Bicycles can be used on the island-circling system of main roads, and can be brought to the island on the ferryboats.

A concessionaire operates a snack bar, bike rentals, and limited tram service during the summer, and by special arrangement during the rest of the year. They also operate Segway tours the on the island. Tour prices are $65.00 person and limited to people 16 years or older. The Café also hosts a barbequed oyster bar and outdoor cantina at the Cove Café, a new and tasty treat to the visitors of Angel Island.

NOTE: Personal Segways are NOT PERMITTED on the island, unless it is being used as an assistance device for a disabled person. Segway rentals are available for guided tours only.

The trams run regularly scheduled one-hour tours with an audio program including information on the history of the island.

Private boats can use the boat slips or mooring buoys at Ayala Cove; day and overnight fees are collected. Mooring buoys can be used overnight.

Paid overnight boaters may use the island with their dingy only until 10pm.

Dock area and finger piers are closed at sunset. After sunset private boats must anchor offshore or on mooring buoys in Ayala Cove.

Groups can reserve the picnic areas and other camping facilities on the island by calling 1-800-444-7275.

State Park Volunteers provide programs at the islands historic sites on most Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from May through October. The volunteers also conduct special tours for schools, clubs and other groups. For tour schedules and reservations, call the park.
Tips & Rules
•Bicycles can be brought to the island on the ferry and used on the island's main roads. Bikes can also be rented seasonally.
•Dogs are not allowed on the island, service animals excepted.
•Roller skates, roller blades, skateboards, and scooters are prohibited.
•Bring camp stove or charcoal, no wood fires allowed.
•Night travel after sunset on the island is prohibited in some areas for park security and public safety.
•Personal Segways are NOT PERMITTED on the island, unless it is being used as an assistance device for a disabled person. Segway rentals are available for guided tours only.

Trails

Summary
Difficulty
Distance
Angel Island State Park
See gorgeous Bay vistas and visit the Immigration Station.
Easy
5.5 mi/
8.9 km
Angel Island's Perimeter Road
Great way to see the Bay
Easy
5.8 mi/
9.3 km
Angel Island Science Hike
In the middle of San Francisco Bay sits Angel Island State Park, with spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline.
Moderate
3.3 mi/
5.3 km
Angel Island
Picture perfect San Francisco Bay views on this tranquil tour of a remote island with hardly a car in sight.
Moderate
6.0 mi/
9.7 km
Backpacking at Angel Island
Camping in the middle of San Francisco Bay offers a window on the region's wonders after dark.
Moderate
6.0 mi/
9.7 km
Guides
Angel Island State Park
Angel Island State Park
Tiburon, California, United States
 
Easy: 5.5 miles, 1-3 hours
See gorgeous Bay vistas and visit the Immigration Station.
Angel Island Science Hike
Angel Island Science Hike
Tiburon, California, United States
 
Moderate: 3.3 miles, Half day
In the middle of San Francisco Bay sits Angel Island State Park, with spectacular views of the San Francisco skyline.
Angel Island's Perimeter Road
Angel Island's Perimeter Road
Tiburon, California, United States
 
Easy: 5.8 miles, 1-3 hours
Great way to see the Bay
Backpacking at Angel Island
Backpacking at Angel Island
Tiburon, California, United States
 
Moderate: 6.0 miles, Multiple days
Camping in the middle of San Francisco Bay offers a window on the region's wonders after dark.
Angel Island
Angel Island
San Francisco, California, United States
Moderate: 6.0 miles, 1-3 hours
Picture perfect San Francisco Bay views on this tranquil tour of a remote island with hardly a car in sight.
Community Trips
San Francisco bay (Tiburon, California, United States) Photo
San Francisco bay (Tiburon, California, United States) Photo
Deer (Tiburon, California, United States) Photo
Old building (Tiburon, California, United States) Photo
Walk around Angel Island
by chris on Sep 15, 2008
Tiburon, California, United States
5.5 miles
An evening walk around Angel Island.  The city is beautiful from across the bay this time of the day.
Time for lunch! Photo
The tent Photo
Walking down the fire road Photo
Looking down on East Garrison Photo
Angel Island spring break hiking
by coyotebush on Apr 15, 2009
Fort McDowell, California, United States
19.9 miles
During spring break, we spent 2 nights camping (at site #2) on Angel Island. While there, we hiked all over the place and found 30-something geocaches.This upload includes several tracks:15th: Backpacking from Ayala Cove to the campsite15th: An evening walk southMorning of the 16th: all around the eastern side of the islandAfternoon of the 16th: up Mt. Livermore and back17th: Backpacking to Ayala cove, then hiking around the western side of the...
Waiting For The Ferry Photo
Alcatraz Photo
100_4354.JPG Photo
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Angel Island Camping
by MythicLionMan on Jun 17, 2009
Tiburon, California, United States
11.3 miles
During our San Francisco vacation we decided to spend a night camping on Angel Island. I had to book a site ahead of time, and we had to lug our camping gear on the plane, and then hike from the boat landing to our site with our camping gear as well as our clothes and paraphernalia for the urban parts of our trip. We missed the early ferry and had to settle...
Ferry Ride Over (Tiburon, California, United States) Photo
Ayala Cove (Tiburon, California, United States) Photo
Crooked trees (Tiburon, California, United States) Photo
IMG_8626.JPG (Tiburon, California, United States) Photo
Angel Island, Mt. Livermore
by HikeNBike on Sep 09, 2008
Tiburon, California, United States
4.1 miles
From Ayala Cove we take 144(or so) stairs and continue to Mt. Livermore.
Angel-Island-Jan_0.jpg Photo
Angel-Island-Jan_1.jpg Photo
Angel-Island-Jan_2.jpg Photo
Angel-Island-Jan_3.jpg Photo
Angel Island Jan 2010
by msmccullough on Jan 17, 2010
Tiburon, California, United States
6.6 miles
Segway riders Photo
Angel Island State Park (no, I wasn't here recently)
by tommangan on Jan 01, 1990
Fort McDowell, California, United States
0.0 miles
Not really a trip, I'm posting this to test some features of EveryTrail
IMG_3818.JPG Photo
IMG_3824.JPG Photo
IMG_3826.JPG Photo
IMG_3830.JPG Photo
Angle Island
by rbhatt on Jun 12, 2010
Fort McDowell, California, United States
4.0 miles
Quick trip and Hike around Angle Island. We took the ferry from Triburon. It was a really clear day and we had specatcular views all around. The GPS was low on battries which is why we had an incomplete trail recorded. All in all, a really nice place to visit, on a clear day.
Ayala Cove Photo
Ayala Cove Photo
CRW_9683.jpg Photo
CRW_9686.jpg Photo
Angel Island, CA
by ksuayan on Jun 19, 2010
San Francisco, California, United States
4.9 miles
Hiked the North Ridge Trail and Sunset Trail. Clear skies with excellent visibility today.
IMG_8763.JPG Photo
IMG_8765.JPG Photo
IMG_8771.JPG Photo
IMG_8773.JPG Photo
Angel Island Loop
by radims on Jul 17, 2010
Angel Island, California, United States
6.3 miles
Easy hike/walk through Angel Island State Park.
IMG_5188.JPG Photo
IMG_5224.JPG Photo
IMG_5189.JPG Photo
IMG_5166.JPG Photo
Mt. Livermore Loop on Angel Island
by jeffhester on Dec 26, 2011
Tiburon, California, United States
5.9 miles

Reviews
srisundar
Wonderful place to visit with family
Visited on May 01, 2013

by srisundar on Jun 30, 2013
masmith40
Fun day out for a walk
Visited on Jul 07, 2012

by masmith40 on Aug 30, 2013
jlkinsel
Love the quiet and views of the east campsites.
Visited on Aug 21, 2010

by jlkinsel on May 01, 2011
giladbu
rented a bike, drove around the island
Visited on Aug 15, 2010

by giladbu on Jan 14, 2011
rbhatt
Went on a clear day. Easy hike. Kids loved it
Visited on Jun 12, 2010

by rbhatt on Nov 27, 2013
coyotebush
Wonderful hiking and incredible views from the summit.

Backpacking here is great; once the last afternoon ferry leaves, the island is practically yours until the morning.

Visited on Apr 15, 2009

by coyotebush on Mar 28, 2011
sang.batoff
Easy hike with spectacular views!
Visited on Feb 06, 2009

by sang.batoff on Nov 05, 2011
chris
The past time I was at Angel Island was a part of a 3-day sailing trip around the bay. We docked at Angel island the last day and took a smaller boat to shore where we walked around the paved perimeter trail and looked out at the San Francisco skyline.

Angel island is a great day trip by ferry from San Francisco and it has enough trails and history to keep you busy over more than just 1 trip there. The views looking back at San Francisco are hard to beat, especially later in the day.

Visited on Sep 15, 2008

by chris on Jan 11, 2011
loveidovei
Most people go there for day hikes so if you can camp, you basically get the island to yourself. The fog horn was loud and the dog had to stay home, but the trails and the views of the 2 bridges were fantastic.
Visited on Nov 30, 2006

by loveidovei on Jun 16, 2011
koosh
Beware aggressive raccoons!
Visited on Mar 31, 2002

by koosh on Jan 04, 2012
MariaCozzoColosi
I haven't been in quite awhile but I enjoyed it very much.
Visited on May 09, 1990

by MariaCozzoColosi on Jan 20, 2012
gragg.ashley
Bring a picnic for the easy but fun hike

by gragg.ashley on Feb 17, 2013
gragg.ashley
Bring a picnic for the easy but fun hike

by gragg.ashley on Feb 17, 2013
gragg.ashley
Bring a picnic for the easy but fun hike

by gragg.ashley on Feb 17, 2013
goto11
Great bike ride out Paradise Drive to the Angel Island Ferry.

by goto11 on Feb 06, 2011

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