Home > Blue & Gold Fleet Ferries, Hike, North Bay > Angel Island Perimeter Hike

Angel Island Perimeter Hike

View of San Francisco from Battery Drew -- by Joe Reifer
View of San Francisco from Battery Drew — by Joe Reifer

This hike circles the perimeter of Angel Island State Park, visiting many historical and natural points of interest, including the Angel Island Immigration Station, abandoned forts and batteries, and coves and beaches. Despite being a popular tourist destination, the trails and paths on Angel Island are usually not overcrowded, as many visitors spend their time on the island picnicking near the ferry cove or taking the tram tours. On clear days, you will have amazing views of San Francisco from the island.

Places visited: Angel Island State Park
Approximate length:
6 miles (see notes for variations)
Hiking time:
4-6 hours
Map:
Angel Island
Terrain:
Mostly flat with a couple of moderate hills; paved and dirt trails
Transit schedule:
Angel Island Tiburon Ferry, Blue & Gold Fleet Angel Island Ferry
Start and end point:
Ayala Cove Ferry Dock, Angel Island

Getting to the start point:

From San Francisco, take the Blue & Gold Fleet Angel Island Ferry from Pier 41 and the Embarcadero to Angel Island. You can take the Muni F-Market to Pier 41 or (my preference) walk from Embarcadero BART/Muni north on the Embarcadero to Pier 41.

From the Peninsula and South Bay, take Caltrain to Millbrae station. Transfer to BART, and take the San Francisco/East Bay train to Embarcadero station. From here, take the Muni F-Market to Pier 41 or (my preference) walk from Embarcadero BART/Muni north on the Embarcadero to Pier 41. Take the Blue & Gold Fleet Angel Island Ferry from Pier 41 and the Embarcadero to Angel Island.

From the East Bay, take BART to Embarcadero station. From here, take the Muni F-Market to Pier 41 or (my preference) walk from Embarcadero BART/Muni north on the Embarcadero to Pier 41. Take the Blue & Gold Fleet Angel Island Ferry from Pier 41 and the Embarcadero to Angel Island.

From the North Bay, take Golden Gate Transit 19 to the Tiburon Ferry Terminal. (Major transfer points for the 19 are Marin City, Strawberry Village, and the Seminary Drive Bus Pad.) Take the Angel Island Tiburon Ferry to Angel Island.

Notes:

  • Note that you will be taking the Angel Island Tiburon Ferry if you are traveling from Marin, and the Blue & Gold Fleet Angel Island Ferry if you are traveling from all other destinations. The Angel Island Tiburon Ferry operates more frequently, but it is inconvenient for car-free travelers coming from destinations other than Marin. If you are coming from San Francisco, it is possible take the Golden Gate Transit 10 or 70/80 and transfer at Marin City to the 19 to get to Angel Island Tiburon Ferry. If you are taking the Angel Island Tiburon Ferry, note that cash and checks only (no credit cards) are accepted; make sure to check the current fares ahead of time and bring enough cash.
  • This route is designed for those who want to avoid crowded trails, by taking the steep stairs to the perimeter road and doing a clockwise loop around the island. Taking the first ferry in the morning is also a great way to avoid the crowds and will allow you to explore the island without feeling rushed to make it back for the last ferry. The Angel Island ferries run on a more limited schedule from November through April; May-October will give you more options for your length of stay on the island.
  • You can vary this route in a few places by taking alternate trails or roads. From the Immigration Station, the East Bay View Trail connects with Fort McDowell; it could be muddy in the winter or after heavy rains. A steeper hike is the loop to Mt. Livermore at the center of the island. Although it would be possible to do this hike in combination with the perimeter loop, I recommend doing these as separate hikes so that you have plenty of time to explore along the way and stop to enjoy the views.
  • This route includes many great locations for lunch with a view. I recommend bringing a bag lunch, but you can also eat at the snack bar near the ferry.

Directions:

  • From the ferry dock, head to your left and towards stairs with a sign leading to Perimeter Road.
  • Climb the stairs and dirt trail for about a quarter of mile until your reach the road.
  • Turn left at Perimeter Road.
  • Walk along the road, keeping an eye out for bicycles and trams.
  • After about 3/4 of a mile, turn left at the road to Immigration Station.
  • Shortly turn left to take the narrow winding path down to the Immigration Station.
  • When you reach the buildings, spend some time wandering around and looking at the station, which reopened to the public in early 2009 after renovations. (Note that renovations are still occurring, and you may want to check the Immigration Station website before visiting for closures. Also check the website if you are interested in guided tours for a fee.)
  • When you are done exploring, head back on the paved road to the Perimeter Road.
  • Turn left at Perimeter Road.
  • Continue straight at the intersection.
  • After about a half mile, stay left when the road splits to visit Fort McDowell.
  • At Fort McDowell, wander around to visit the buildings, the visitor center and Quarry Beach.
  • From the beach, head left on the path towards the Perimeter Road.
  • Turn left at Perimeter Road.
  • Turn right where the road splits (straight ahead is a Coast Guard station, closed to the public).
  • After the road curves around to the right, you pass a Nike Missile Site on your right.
  • Follow the road as it curves up to the right.
  • Turn left at the intersection to follow the Perimeter Road.
  • Stay left at the split in the road to visit Battery Drew.
  • Turn in at the battery to explore the area.
  • When you are done exploring, you can either head back to the Perimeter Road and continue to your right, or you can cut across to the alternate road and turn left. Either way, the roads meet up in a short distance.
  • Shortly after the roads meet up, you will pass an interesting rock crusher on your right.
  • Continue straight at the intersection to stay on the main road.
  • After the road curves around to your right, turn left to visit Camp Reynolds. Here you will see several buildings, including officers quarters and a mule barn.
  • Optionally here, you can walk out to the point, Point Stewart before continuing the loop.
  • When ready, make your way back to the perimeter road, either on the road or on the path through the trees.
  • Turn left at Perimeter Road.
  • As the road makes a sharp curve to the right, veer left on a short path heading towards the point.
  • Turn right at the dirt road.
  • Make your way down towards Ayala Cove, turning left when you reach the picnic areas.
  • Walk along the cove to the ferry dock. Congratulations, you made it!
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