Angel Island

State Park

TRAILHEAD INFORMATION

Highlights

Angel Island State Park is located in the San Francisco Bay, one mile south of the town of Tiburon. The largest island in San Francisco Bay, Angel Island is owned and managed by California State Parks. Angel Island is a destination site – you must arrive by boat. Arriving is part of the adventure! Angel Island offers spectacular views, secluded beaches, hiking and biking trails, camping, a café, and cultural history attractions.

There are several interesting scenic destinations Water Trail users can visit around the island. To see Angel Island Map, download PDF.

Beaches

Ayala Cove

Ayala Cove is the main entrance to the island where passenger ferries land. There are 40 boat slips or 27 moorings that are available on a first-come, first-served basis (day use fee applies). Alternatively, you can land on the beach or share the designated dingy slips (entrance fee applies). Pulling boats onto the shore or seawall is permitted. Some visitors with disabilities may have difficulty accessing the site from the beach due to the seawall. See Angel Island State Park website for current fees.

Ayala Cove is a hub of activity and has accessible restrooms, picnic areas, a visitor’s center, lockers, gift shop, and ranger kiosk. There is a seasonal concessionaire with a café, tram and guided Segway tours, and bicycle rentals.

Kayak Camp Beach

There is a group campsite (Kayak Group Camp) located on the hillside above Kayak Camp Beach. It is accessed by a short, steep trail from the beach up through the woods, built and maintained in part by volunteers from Bay Area Sea Kayakers. There are restrooms located on the hill above the campsite; these restrooms are accessed by a short but steep road. Reservations are obtained though www.reservecalifornia.com. Some users arriving by beach, including those with disabilities, may have difficulty reaching the campsite and restroom. There is an accessible campsite located near the restroom. The campsite and restroom may also be accessed from the main road via Ayala Cove.

China Cove

This small cove has a beach that leads to the site of the former U.S. Immigration Station, which processed nearly a million immigrants from 1910 to 1940. Boaters must climb a short seawall from the beach to access the facilities. There is often a strong current just beyond the beach. This site offers a rich cultural history experience and boaters should respect the solemnity of the site’s history and current use. The path, restrooms, and interpretive site are fully accessible. There are campsites that can be hiked to from this location and this site can accessed from the main road.

West Garrison

West Garrison is another popular site with kayakers. There is a small beach here that leads to various historic scenes, which include buildings built during the Civil War, paths, restrooms, picnic tables, and restrooms. Some visitors may have difficulty accessing the site from the beach due to a seawall.

Perle’s Beach

On a clear day, this beach has excellent views of San Francisco and is perfect for picnicking. The main road can be accessed via trail and stairs from the beach. There are campsites that can be hiked to from this location, but no restrooms.

Sand Springs Beach

This remote, isolated beach is a nice spot for picnicking. There are no trails or facilities that lead to other island locations or services from this beach.

Quarry Beach

This beautiful, sandy beach has views of Richmond and the East Bay. In the summer this beach is well protected from wind and weather and sailboats and dragon boats are known to anchor near here.

There is a ramp leading from the beach to the road, but the ramp does not lead to the edge of the water. Amenities near the beach (up a road to East Garrison) include a restroom, group picnic area, visitor center, volleyball court, and ball field. This area offers many historic buildings and cultural attractions to explore.

Water Area North of East Garrison

This small, protected area includes a small, tide-dependent rocky beach, and near the beach, a protected area to anchor. The dock is currently not functioning (some visitors may wish to swim to shore if they feel comfortable). Some visitors may have difficulty accessing the site from the beach due to a seawall. East Garrison is accessed by the main road and has a generally accessible restroom and seasonally open visitor center.

Boat Facilities

Boat slips at Ayala Cove are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are open 8:00 am to sunset. Ayala Cove also has overnight moorings that require a dinghy or drop off to reach the island. Boaters can anchor at other island shoreline locations (not at Ayala Cove) and come on-shore with a dinghy. Boaters may access the island until 10:00 pm. An overnight use fee applies. A State Park entrance fee is charged for both day-use and overnight mooring with a 7-day limit.

Directions and Parking

Ferry service to the island leaves from Tiburon (Angel Island Tiburon Ferry), Alameda (San Francisco Bay Ferry), and San Francisco (Blue and Gold Fleet). Currently ferry service does not offer regular transport service for non-motorized small boats to the island. However, you may wish to contact the respective ferry companies to inquire about transporting your boat during periods of low ferry use.

Accessibility

Two guided trams have portable lifts which provide wheelchair access, a tour fee applies. The seasonal East Garrison Visitor Center and Ayala Cove Visitor Center are generally accessible. Ayala Cove is ADA- compliant to persons arriving at Ayala Cove by ferry and to persons arriving by private boat and docking at the boat slips, and generally accessible to persons arriving by kayaks. Environmental Traveling Companions offers trips to Angel Island. Visitors with accessibility questions are advised to contact the concessionaire and/or the Park.

Safety Tips

There are challenges and hazards associated with paddling in the middle of San Francisco Bay. There are ferry routes that travel to and from Angel Island and several shipping routes in the vicinity. Additionally, there are many other motorized boats landing at Ayala Cove, particularly in the summer months. Non-motorized small boaters need to be cautious and experienced with boating around large vessels. There are also strong currents around Angel Island, such as Raccoon Strait, located between Tiburon and Angel Island. There is usually a strong current that lies beyond the beach at China Cove. Conditions are also challenging around Point Blunt which tends to be windy on one side and calm on the other. Plan your trip wisely and make sure you have the experience to deal with challenging conditions and large boats.

If you are unable to land at a beach, you will need a dinghy to reach the shore. The U.S. Coast Guard has three areas on the island that are off-limits to the public at all times: Point Blunt; Point Knox; and Point Stuart. Many of the buildings on Angel Island State Park are in states of decay. Please respect signage about closed areas. Knowledge of your own limits and capabilities combined with situational awareness of current conditions and surroundings will help keep you safe.

Wildlife Tips

There are two harbor seal haul-outs located on the island. These sites are located in areas exposed to high levels of watercraft and these seals may be habituated to activity near them. However, they may still be disturbed if boaters come too close. There are other harbor seal haul-outs located within four miles of Angel Island. These seals are not as habituated to humans and are likely more vulnerable to human disturbance. Please maintain a buffer distance of 300 feet from harbor seal haul-outs August – February, and 400 feet from harbor seal haul-outs March – July (pupping season). Also, please maintain a buffer distance of 800 feet from large groups of birds.

Trailhead Photos