Backpacking: Angel Island State Park

Backpacking angel island 3 adj

The Hike

First, you take the ferry from Tiburon, so there is some driving and coordinating with the ferry schedule. Once you are on the island, your campsite is a mile or so away mostly on paved roads. Hiking all the way around the island is five miles, so you can’t go too far.

You’ll want to hike to the the top of the Island, Mount Livermore, but do that when it isn’t shrouded in fog. I’ve been to the top in the fog and it is amusing, but the views aren’t that great.

Why Go Here?

There is nothing quite like camping on an island. Camping on an island in the middle of San Francisco Bay with a clear view of Oakland, San Francisco, and the Golden Gate is even better. Also check out the light show on the Bay Bridge. It is on the side of the bridge facing Angel Island.

Make some time to visit the immigration station and other historical sites. The Immigration Station is a National Historic Landmark and a great choice of a place to visit for requirement 2a of Citizenship in the Nation merit badge.

Reservations and Planning

Angel Island can be very cold and windy. The best time of year is October, maybe extending into late September and early November. October is the brief break between the cold summer ocean upwelling that brings the fog and the winter storms that bring rain.

Your camp site will either be the West Garrison or North Garrison group sites on the windward side, or the Secret Service Camp in a well-sheltered site on the leeward side. The group camps have better views and the service camp is warmer.

Reserve the service camp (it’s not on the map) by calling the Service Camp Coordinator at the Angel Island Conservancy (Programs « Angel Island Conservancy). Talk to them to arrange a service project and you’ll have the use of the service camp. Don’t try to find it on the map, it isn’t there. I’ve seen the sign for it, but I’m not telling.

Camp sites open up for reservations six months in advance. Be a sniper and reserve them on the morning of the first day they are open.
Do not miss the last ferry! Chartering a boat at the last minute is quite expensive.

Links and Resources


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