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Tiburon, California, United States

Angel Island State Park

See gorgeous Bay vistas and visit the Immigration Station.

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 (7 votes, 3 reviews)
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 5.5 miles / 8.9 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly
Overview: Angel Island State Park offers one of the best ways to see San Francisco Bay from sea level. Fortunate local boat owners have long plied its shoreline and picnicked on its grounds, but the boatless can get in on the fun via ferries that stop on the island.

There are good times galore for hikers, bikers and sightseers, but the island has abundant evidence of the bad old days, particularly the Immigration Station, where Asians who came to America seeking freedom were instead held captive, often for months on end.

Though the island gets a bit crowded at peak tourist season, there's plenty of room to stretch across its 740 acres, 13 miles of hiking trails and eight miles of paved road. No matter where you go, you'll have excellent views of the lands surrounding the San Francisco Bay, cooled by Pacific Ocean breezes.

Tips: Travel defensively: you'll be sharing the island with tourists on Segways, bicycles and motorized trams; all of them can sneak up on you.

Check the weather forecast before you go: if the Bay is likely to be fogged in, there won't be much to see (though fog often burns off in the afternoon).

Don't miss your ride back to the mainland: make sure you know when your last ferry leaves, and give yourself plenty of time to get there.

Park hours
8 a.m. to sunset year-round

There is no cheap way to see Angel Island: ferry fares, parking fees and bridge tolls can set you back $20 to $40 (car-pooling and public transportation can ease the sting a bit).

Round-trip fare on Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry includes park entrance fee; go here for rates. (Fees on other ferry services are considerably higher.)

You'll also have to pay to park in downtown Tiburon. Go here for a map showing where to park.

What to bring:
Sunscreen: there's very little shade on the island.
Layers: The island can be hot one side and cool on another.
Camera and binoculars
Basic hiking gear if you're taking on Mount Livermore.

Points of Interest


Mount Livermore

The island's summit is the 788-food Mount Livermore (named for Caroline Livermore, a Marin County conservationist instrumental in turning the island into a state park.) The panorama from the peak is unforgettable. The best way to get there is a moderate five-mile hike along the Northridge and Sunset trails. I go hiking to get away from tourists and this still remains one of my Bay Area favorites.

Immigration Station

OK, so sites documenting human suffering don't exactly peg the ol' excitement meter. Even so, this recently renovated national landmark is worth seeing if only to read the poetry its mostly Chinese captives carved into the walls of their holding cells. Sad but gripping. See this page for tour information.

Segway tours

Yes, you'll look slightly ridiculous on a ride-standing-up Segway, which is all the more reason to give it a try, if you can afford $65 for a two-hour tour. See this page for all the facts.

Overnight camping

The island has 11 campsites -- one that's ADA-compliant, nine numbered sites (each requiring a walk of up to two miles) and a kayak-accessible site. When the last ferry leaves, you'll have the island pretty much to yourself (mind you it can get bitter cold and wet overnight, so come prepared). Seeing San Francisco by night from Angel Island is a singular Bay Area experience. Get all the details here.
Pictures in this guide taken by: tisonbro, coyotebush, tommangan
This guide is very helpful. I've been looking for a trail in this portion of CA.
Is the road that circles the island open to motorized traffic also or just for Segways & human-powered transportation?

Visited on Feb 10, 2011

by trailsnet on Feb 10, 2011
Angel Island is great. As a native of the bay area I have visited Angel Island several times and hiked around the perimeter trail (not sure why I never made it to the top...that's next on my list). The view of the entire bay are just spectacular, especially later in the day.

Take the ferry and sit outside for some nice views of Alcatraz as you ride to Angel Island and you wont regret it.

Visited on Sep 15, 2008

by chris on Feb 10, 2011
This is a great way to spend a day on the Bay. The ferry ride is beautiful, the hike to the top of Angel Island is pretty modest, and the views are unbeatable. Pack a lunch, lots of water, sunscreen and layers.

by krbose on Jan 27, 2011

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