Situated in the San Francisco Bay, Angel Island is one of the best and most active ways to take in your surroundings from sea level. There are many outdoor activities to fill your day, not least of which are the picturesque hiking trails. Angel Island boasts three trails of varying difficulties. Use this as a guide to choose the best hike for you.
The Perimeter Road
Length: 5 miles
This trail is great for history buffs or anyone looking to take an easy walk around the island.
Starting close to the Visitor Center, the road heads west towards Camp Reynolds. A side road leaves the Perimeter Trail, heading down to the parade ground and building, which has stood on the island since 1908. Be sure to take note of the chapel, barn and officer’s quarters.
The road then turns eastward toward the eastern garrison. If you listen closely, you’ll be serenaded by the sound of seals, congregating at Point Blunt. This stronghold once trained about 30,000 men a year for duty overseas and you can still see a number of buildings here, which include the island’s old hospital and barracks.
Going north you will find yourself greeted by the old Immigration Station, which operated for 30 years before becoming a POW camp during WWII.
Finally this trail will show you Richmond-San Rafael Bridge before descending to Ayala Cove.
The Sunset Trail
Length: 4.6 miles
This is a loop trail leading to the summit of Mt Livermore before heading down to Ayala Cove.
You will spend half a mile walking through beautiful eucalyptus, cypress and pine trees as you get your first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. Be sure to have your camera ready as you’re greeted with a breath taking panoramic view of San Francisco, seen halfway up the summit. Upon your arrival, there will be many great opportunities for picnics and photographs of the Bay in all its glory. After, you’ll begin a 3.5 mile descent on the North Ridge Trail to Ayala Cove.
The Angel Island Loop
Length: 4.6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate / Hard
This trail involves walking the Perimeter Road, the North Ridge Trail and the Sunset Trail. You’ll want to allow yourself a minimum of 3 hours to complete the hike, being aware that the road will be shared with vehicles, segways and bikes.
This trail will take you amongst oak, pine, hazelnut and gooseberry as you scale to the peak of Mount Livermore, which is a great place to stop for a picnic or break. The trail continues down a ridge on the south slope, offering unobstructed views of Point Blunt. Although shortcuts may be visible, remember that the official path is there for your safety. At 4.6 miles you come across another picnic area where you can catch your breath before finishing the trail just down the road at Ayala Cove.
Whichever of these wonderful hikes you choose, make sure you take proper precautions with clothing, maps, cell battery and fluids; the wind can really pick up so layers make a difference and, as always, a healthy supply of water is necessary. We can’t wait to see you out on Angel Island. Enjoy your hike!