Jordan, Tyler and I decided to get out to Angel Island for Jordan's
first backpacking trip and Tyler's third. I have lost count of Leo's and
my trips. Angel
island can be popular on weekends, so we did a Friday - Saturday trip over
spring break. I had originally booked Ridge Site #4 (supposedly the best
site on the island) for a Thursday - Friday trip. It was forecast to be
windy and rainy Thursday so we bumped our trip a day so Jordan's first
trip was not a soggy one. This was our third trip to this island (see
trip to Sunrise site #8 in 2010, East
Bay site# 1 in 2012 ). Sunrise camp does have uninterrupted views
but East Bay site #1 is huge, away from neighbors, has shade and some
shelter from wind. I think all three East Bay sites rock compared to Sunrise
on the whole. Each group of sites has a water faucet and pit toilet. We
did the Tiburon Ferry as
the pier one ferry from Blue
and Gold doesn't have as many options this time of year. We caught
the 11 am ferry out of tiburon and if is about a ten minute ride. We parked
at Bank of America for $5, about two blocks away from ferry. There is
a closer option for $25 if you are so inclined. You have to pay in cash
to park to a machine and when boarding the ferry so hit the ATM after
parking or plan ahead. Here is Leo, Tyler and Jordan after we parked the
Here I am with my hefty pack (actually not too bad considering the extra gear I was hauling). The weather was cool and breezy but forecast to clear up by midday. We hoofed it from the bank parking lot to the ferry terminal... well to the
coffee shop next to the ferry terminals. We decided to have a snack before getting on the ferry. There are two ferry docks, one for the Blue and Gold Fleet and the other for the Angel Island - Tiburon Ferry (make sure you take the right one) . The ferry ride is a short ten minutes from Tiburon. There is limited service from this ferry during the non-summer months, so be sure to check ferry schedules using the links above before you use reserveamerica to book your site (unless you have a private boat of your own). Here we are waiting for our snacks.
Here we are waiting for the ferry to take off from the dock. The kids were excited to be riding on the ferry (even though it is a short trip).
This shot is back looking back at Tiburon while on the ferry. It is a nice small town that seems to have enough to keep you busy an afternoon (as long as a meal/snack is part of the plan).
The weather can be a bit on the chilly side depending on what the fog and wind are like. The East Bay sites are the most sheltered sites when the fog/wind rolls in from the coast. Here is a "shark" we saw on the way to Angel Island (really a dolphin of course).
After we disembarked the ranger spotted our not so subtle backpacks and asked if we were spending the night. We met him at the kiosk after hitting the facilities. We hit the snack bar after getting the run down from the ranger. Here is a seagull chilling near the snack bar. The snack bar gets hit by waves of people coming off the ferries, so if you see an opening take it before the next wave.
We had a nice lunch. They have cold beer/cider and some good sandwiches. Prices are a little steep, but they have the monopoly here.
We used the north ridge trail past the snack bar to go up the the stairs to the Perimeter Road, to the trail again to the Fire Road, to camp (per the ranger this is the quickest route). Trails are well marked and you are on an island so do us all a favor and don't get lost. The Perimeter Road has nice views and benches/tables along the way so take a break and enjoy them. The downside of the Perimeter Road is that the tours and bikes travel them and there is not much shade. If you want more solitude or shade use the trails and Fire Road to get around. Both the Perimeter Road and the Fire Road make a complete circle around the island. See map below for your options to get around. Bikes are not allowed on the trails only the Fire Road and Perimeter Road. They are also not allowed at the Immigration Station but there are a couple bike racks.. All trails are well maintained. There is poison oak and ticks on the island so keep an eye out for both and you will be fine. Before the stairs you pass the service dock. We saw them load up this delivery truck on the "Clam". Pretty cool to see it in action and also to see why prices are a little higher for things on an island.
The "Clam" is off! Leo and I thought it would be a cool delivery for the truck driver lucky enough to get Angel Island on his list.
Here we are actually hiking. We kept a slow but steady pace to camp. It was a great day for hiking with a gentle breeze and plenty of views.
We made sure to consult the map at least a couple times to get the kids used to the idea of navigation.
Before we knew it we were at our site, East Bay #2. We set up our tents and the kids explored. Although the sites next to us were booked, no one showed up at either of them that night. The kids are closer to site #3 in this shot. Site #3 has the best views of the city and the bay bridge, but is pretty open (that is the trouble with views).
The kids favorite thing about the site was the giant tree between site #1 and site #2. It provides some good climbing. Here is Tyler in the tree.
A good portion of the tree is laying down on the ground in spots, with
some of the branches dead/dying. Don't worry though as there is enough
of the tree alive for it to hang around for a while longer. Here is Leo
sporting some cool shades..
An action shot of the tree action.
Here is the view from the edge of site #2 looking over site #3 to the bridge, and city beyond.
At first I thought there was an American flag being towed by a plane but I think it is actually a Giants flag. Still cool.
We decided to head
down to the Immigration Station. The kids explored and asked some questions
about what the buildings were used for. Leo and I tried the best we could
to explain to them why we held people here. Here they are drawing in the
There is a little beach here and we went down to check it out. We had to get past this guard goose first though. I am not sure what he was guarding but he took his job seriously!.
It was starting to get late so we headed back to camp. On the way past a service shed we saw a family of deer out on a stroll. I was only able to get this one shot as they were quick! Raccoons and deer are plentiful. There were some nice steel food lockers that you must use as the raccoons will be out to see what they can grab. Anything that smells good should go in the lockers!
Here is a tugboat we saw on the way back I think El Cerrito is in the background.
Another shot of the big tree!
We had a nice quiet evening (well with the foghorns and other beacons there are some noises, but it all fades into the background). We only had to chase off one raccoon that was getting a little too close to our packs after dinner. It was sprinkling that night and misty the next morning. We had breakfast and then packed up our soggy gear and headed out to catch the ferry back to Tiburon. It was cool again with the sun not being able to break through the clouds. This is a great place to have a first trip (see the smiles).
I didn't run my GPS on this
trip but I ran it the last time I was out here with just Tyler. Red line
shows the path we hiked on the way out from East Bay site #1 to the snack
bar at Ayala Cove using the paved road. Elevation profile shows how easy
this hike is on the lungs/knees. Click either for a larger