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Sarah and I have been to Angel Island a few times now, but never to the famous Ridge Site #4. I was able to book the famous site by reserving it way in advance, and midweek. Lucky for me, Sarah wanted to go backpacking on her spring break and, even luckier, the weather cooperated. We also took one of my coworkers on this trip for his first backpacking trip (I made sure to tell him that this is not your typical backpacking trip). For other site descriptions use these links (see trip to Sunrise site #8 in 2010, East Bay site# 2 in 2013 and East Bay site#1 in 2013 ). Sunrise camp does have uninterrupted views, but East Bay site #1 is huge, away from neighbors, and has shade and some shelter from wind. I think all three East Bay sites rock compared to Sunrise on the whole. The Ridge sites are the most exposed but have the killer views of the San Francisco skyline. Ridge site #4 has the best views but no shade and no shelter should the wind/weather head in. 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 10 am ferry out of Tiburon and if is about a ten minute ride. We parked at one of the lots a couple blocks from the ferry. There is one parking lot at Bank of America that is manned (but usually full unless you get there early). The lot we used said no overnight parking (I have used it twice now with no issues). Parking and the ferry are cash only so hit the ATM after parking or plan ahead. Here is Sarah before we lined up for the ferry. Trail Map is at bottom of page.

 

 

Here we are on the island. After you take the quick 10 minute ferry ride across Racoon Strait you are going to check in with the ranger. The rules are typical, leave no food outside of the food lockers, no wood fires, be mindful of wildlife and of course leave no trace. Here is the lawn area in front of the visitor center. You can really tell it is spring, everything is a nice shade of green. We decided to have an early lunch at the Angel Island Cafe before heading out on the trail. It seemed a little backwards to be having a cold beer and sandwich before the hike, but it didn't take much convincing for me to go along with the plan. You can tell from the shot below how crowded the island was that day...

 

 

We decided to take the most direct route to the site today (given that you can make any trip on the island a loop hike you always have a choice). We headed up past the visitor center on to the paved Perimeter Road.

 

 

We let Sarah set the pace, which allowed me to grab some great shots along the trail.

 

 


We decided to check out Camp Reynolds on the way in; It is really worth walking out to. The views of the Golden Gate are superb and there are a lot of historical buildings along the way. Here is the view of Sarah staying hydrated on the way. There is a pretty nice bathroom to the right of the building in this shot, should you over-hyrdate.

 

 


While it looks like the building is in the water, I assure you it is not. They did build it close the the water though...

 

 


Pretty awesome views down here. If you look close you can see there is a table you could eat your lunch/snack at while taking it all in.

 

 


We really, really, got lucky on the weather. It was raining on either side of this trip, but today it was clear, calm and warm. The weather when you go may differ.

 

 


We rejoined the Permiter Road and started to enjoy vistas of San Francisco and Alcatraz. There are plenty of benches and tables along the road to allow you to take a break and enjoy the views.

 

 

From this vantage point you could really see the grid nature of the City - and also how steep those hills are.

 

 


Here Sarah is making sure that we exit the road and head UP to camp.

 

 


Here is camp. The water faucet is along the use path just to the left of the table. The food locker is at the left end of the table. The site is decently sized, but the ground is hard for staking the tents. We found a decent rock to use and left it at the table. There is Poison Oak around the sites (so stay on the trails or at least keep a keen lookout).

 

 


Here is Sarah's favorite part of the site, "The Stump". This tree would have provided some nice shade for the site. We setup a tarp off this stump for some shade. After "chilling" (it was much too warm to "chill") for a little while we decided that we should go explore Battery Drew before dinner.

 

 


After hiking along the road for a bit I looked back to grab this shot of the tent. The orange tent is mine at site #4 (the highest site on the ridge). Sites 5 and 6 are in the trees to the left. Site 6 has the bathroom at it and is the most sheltered. Site 5 had some good shade and some decent views. I would not want site 4 on a really hot day, you would cook out there.

 

 

We explored Battery Drew for a while. You can go inside and check out the different concrete rooms. This structure is where the gun was mounted. Yes, it was a rather large gun.

 

 

 

The ridge sites were built around Battery Wallace, you can see some of the concrete structures around sites 5 and 6, and also below site 4. Here is Sarah on the stump thinking about how we can be so close to millions of people in the City, but not hear any of them...

 

 

 

We had a nice dinner and then watched the lights go down in the city, and the sun shine on the bay... OK had to do that. But seriously, how could you not want to watch the sunset out here.

 

 

Here is my Scout UL2 tent, still going strong. I have only a couple minor gripes about it, but the weight savings make it my "go-to" tent for most trips.

 

 

After Sarah went to bed I took a few longish exposures with the camera. It was hard not to catch some aliens and rockets with the shutter open so long.

 

 


The views were cooler than I captured here. It was not hard to see why these ridge sites book up fast.

 

 


The next morning was clear and calm. Lots of ships coming into and out of the bay.

 

 

It was fun for Sarah (and Eric and I) to watch the ships travel under the Golden Gate under the watchful eye of the tugboat captain.

 

 


Have to brush hair and teeth before we hit the trail after breakfast.
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We headed back the way we came in. Sarah wanted to explore the beach at Ayala Cove before we waited for the ferry back to Tiburon. There were some neat foot prints to identify on the beach. Sarah's walking staff has common animal prints identified on it, she is using it in this shot to help out on the identification. I beleive that racoon and deer won.
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Harbor Seals hanging out on the docks.
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I didn't run my GPS on this trip so I highlighted the most direct route on the official Angel Island State Park Map in yellow. This is an easy 1.5 miles each way and do-able for even little hikers. Click on map to download full map.
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