Angel Island State Park

San Francisco, California 94123

Angel Island State Park

Angel Island State Park Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"One of the most unusual —and certainly one of the most pleasantly situated —state parks in California is Angel Island State Park .Located in San Francisco Bay, Angel Island has had a long and varied history. The earliest known use was as a home of native-Americans. Later, the island was used militarily in both the Civil War and World War II. It also served as an immigration center and for Nike missile defense. Today its use as a state park allows us to enjoy its unique beauty and to re-live its history through its museums and points of interest. The island has no public car traffic. The trails are smooth and the climbs are modest, allowing this ride to be done by beginners to the sport of mountain biking. The sights and history on the island should appeal to advanced riders as well, even though the ride itself is an easy one."

More Angel Island State Park Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

One Night Wilderness: San Francisco (Wilderness Press)
Matt Heid
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"In the middle of the Bay, less than 5 miles from downtown San Francisco, Angel Island rises like a jewel. Accessible only by ferry, the island offers a backpacking experience unlike any other, where vistas sweep 360 degrees around the Bay, gentle paths mingle with history, and unique rock outcrops tell unusual tales." Read more
Urban Trails San Francisco (The Mountaineers Books)
Alexandra Kenin
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"At 740 acres, Angel Island is the second-largest island in the bay after Alameda Island. While most of the island lies in Tiburon, Fort McDowell, on the eastern side of the island, is owned by the City and County of San Francisco. Angel Island is a perfect place to take in views of the Bay Area. On a clear day, you can see as far as Napa and Sonoma counties to the north and San Jose to the south." Read more
San Francisco Peninsula Bike Trails (Penngrove Publications)
Conrad Boisvert
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"One of the most unusual — and certainly one of the most pleasantly situated — state parks in California is Angel Island State Park .Located in San Francisco Bay, Angel Island has had a long and varied history. The earliest known use was as a home of native-Americans. Later, the island was used militarily in both the Civil War and World War II. It also served as an immigration center and for Nike missile defense. Today its use as a state park allows us to enjoy its unique beauty and to re-live its history through its museums and points of interest." Read more
Hiking Marin: 141 Great Hikes in Marin County (Marin Press LLC)
Don & Kay Martin
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"This hike on the main road around Angel Island visits all the historical areas including the Immigration Station. Great views and picnic sites." Read more
Best Bike Rides San Francisco (Falcon Guides)
Wayne Cottrell
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"The Angel Island Expedition is a double-counterclockwise perimeter ride around Angel Island on paved and dirt roads. Double-counterclockwise? Yes—one loop on the outer, paved perimeter road, with a detour to an inner, unpaved fire road. Riding counterclockwise keeps the bay on your right. This is an excellent ride for children, as only maintenance vehicles ply Angel Island’s roads and the terrain is relatively gentle. The children should be in good enough condition (and decent enough bike handlers) to pedal up and coast down a few hills. The inner loop can be eliminated to make this an easier outing. The outer, paved loop can, in fact, be ridden on a road bike." Read more
Hiking the San Francisco Bay Area (Falcon Guides)
Linda Hamilton
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"Only reachable by ferry, this Angel Island hike includes a walk through US history and a good look at the present. You can take in the long Miwok history of the island before a fairly strenuous climb up Mount Livermore, awarding you with 360-degree views encompassing landmarks all around the San Francisco Bay. The loop back visits one of the few Civil War posts for the Union on the West Coast before returning to the ferry terminal with facilities and a cafe." Read more
Best Hikes Near San Francisco (Falcon Guides)
Linda Hamilton
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"You have to love a hike that you can only reach by ferry. But the Angel Island hike does not take you away from it all. Instead, you take in gobs of civilization from a lofty and isolated plateau. On a clear day from the top of Mount Livermore, you can see all four major bridges on the Bay. You can watch the fog roll over the city like a slow-moving avalanche. Even with limited visibility, you can admire landmarks of the unique San Francisco skyline, the street-faire towns of Sausalito and Tiburon, and a prison-toprison view from San Quentin to Alcatraz, both with their fascinating histories. That’s the keyword here: history. Angel Island, the largest island in San Francisco Bay, spans a microcosm of U.S. history, from its days as hunting ground for native Americans to serving as a Civil War post for the Union and a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, and finally, as a public park. Trails Surface: A single-track, well-maintained footpath leads to Mount Livermore. A less maintained path leads down to a double-track dirt road, then the paved road around the perimeter of the island." Read more
60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco (Menasha Ridge Press)
Jane Huber
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"Angel Island is a perfect day trip, where the journey to the trailhead rivals the hike for sheer relaxation and beauty. Since you can reach Angel Island only by boat, sit back and enjoy the ferry ride, then climb to the top of the island and back, with incredible 360-degree views nearly the entire trip. Just keep an eye on the clock to make sure you catch that last ferry." Read more
Mountain Biking the San Francisco Bay Area (Falcon Guides)
Lorene Jackson
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"This is a great family ride with stunning views of San Francisco, Mount Tamalpais, and the Golden Gate Bridge. The Perimeter Road loop is paved, but the upper Fire Road is dirt and much less traveled. There are a few short climbs, but overall the grade is easy. The island is rich in history and landmarks. It is a perfect place for a picnic. Bring layers of clothing; temperatures can vary dramatically from one side of the island to another. If you’re unprepared, it can be miserable in the fog and wind. Bring a bike lock if you want to hike one of the trails to the peak. Trail surface: 51 percent paved road, 42 percent dirt road, and 7 percent paved/dirt bike path." Read more
Best Hikes with Kids: San Francisco Bay Area (The Mountaineers Books)
Laure Latham
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"Hike around the island to a Civil War–era garrison" Read more

Angel Island State Park Reviews

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9/19/2010
The trip around the outer rim starts out promising as it's a gentle uphill dirt path. From then on it's mostly road. There is also a tour bus you'll share most of the road part with. I have three small children who learned to ride their bikes this year. This trail was plenty challenging for them but I was hoping for more of an off road but gentle mountain biking experience. We did not venture up to the upper trail. I'm told that one is all dirt but it's totally flat and is much shorter than the lower trail. I'm not sure why they say this is 10mi. it's more like 5 miles on the lower and 3 for the upper. All that said, my kids found some of the uphill portions of the trail too difficult to ride and walked their bikes. There is one fairly steep descent near the end of the trail on the road. If you have small children, you'll want to watch out for this part and make sure they keep their speed in check. If they're anything like my kids, they don't necessarily stay on the right side of the road so going down this hill fast with the bus coming up the hill could be a disaster. All in all, it was great. We parked at Blackie's pasture and rode into Tiburon to catch the ferry. Then made the trip back. That made parking free as an added bonus. You need cash for the ferry. You can google it for rates. My kids loved it! It was challenging enough but also easy enough to make them feel like they just did something difficult but did it well! You can't really ask for much more than that. If you don't have kids, it may still be worth doing just because there are so many great views, etc. It's not really a mountain biking trip. It's a sight seeing trip. For that I'd give it 4 stars. For what I did with my family, I give it three.
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8/21/2006
Trails are in excellent condition and well-marked. Appears that the wider main trails have even been smoothed out with a grader.
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4/3/2006
Nice little loop. Great views... if you're looking for something longer with more challenges then this isn't for you. If you're looking for something to just do then this is great. You could do the upper mt bike loop then do the lower paved loop. Lots of walkers though so be ware.
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3/14/2006
Good, beautiful on a good day. Not as much wildlife as one may see on other area trails. Can be a bit crowded on weekends or holidays.
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10/10/2004
Interesting open space area with a lot of history. Great for an afternoon stroll or a moderate-length day-hike. Nice that something this interesting is so close! Would be good for some mellow biking too.
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8/7/2004
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Angel Island State Park Photos

Trail Information

San Francisco
Nearby City
Kid-friendly
Accessibility
11
Distance
700 feet
Elevation Gain
Loop/Lollipop
Trail Type
Easy
Technical Difficulty
Easy
Physical Difficulty
Moderate
Skill Level
2 hours
Duration
Year-round
Season
50 feet
Trailhead Elevation
500 feet
Top Elevation

Activity Feed

Dec 2018