Category: Sausalito Hiking

Video by Shaun Edward

More than anything else Angel Island–the largest island in San Francisco Bay–is known for its immigration station. Opened in 1910 and operational until 1940, more than 1 million immigrants passed through the station–sometimes refferred to as “The Ellis Island of the West.”

The  Station was closed following a fire in 194o. But the military, which had first opened a quarantine hospital at Ayala Cove  in 1891, continued to be a presence on the island until the Nike Missle site built on the Island’s southern tip was closed in 1962. The State Park Service, which had started buying land on the island in 1954, took over complete control of the Angel Island.

Today, Angel island can only be accessed by boat via Ayala Cove, right across the Raccoon Straight from Tiburon. A ferry ticket from Tiburon costs $13.50 for adults 13 and up, and includes covers the park entrance fee as well.

Ayala Cove Angel Island Boat Docks

The docks at Ayala Cove can handle boats up to 50 feet long. Photo by Shaun Edward

For those wising to take their own boats there–as Sausalito Waterfront did–there are docks available for day use at Ayala Cove as well, which can accommodate boats of up to 50 feet. Docks cost $15 per boat for an all day pass, and mooring buoys are also available for $30 a night.

Ayala cove is the gateway to the rest of the island. Here you’ll find a cafe, bicycle and locker rentals, and Tram and Segway tours for those who don’t like to do their walking the old fashioned way. For people not wanting to shell out anymore cash than it already took to get there, there are also picnic tables and grills for public use.

There are trails for hiking and biking all over the island (click here for a map), but we’d recommend the 5-mile Perimeter Road for first time visitors. The paved road winds its way around the island, passing all the historically significant spots–the Immigration Station, Camp Reynolds, and the Nike Missile site, just to name a few.

Camp Reynolds Angel Island State Park

Photo by Shaun Edward

Angel Island’s south side probably offers the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, and San Francisco, but there really are no bad views here. Not only are the views of San Francisco Bay stunning, but the natural beauty of the island itself is also worth taking the time to appreciate. If you want the ultimate in 360 degree view, it’s worth the climb to 733-foot tall Mt. Livermore, the top of the island.

San Francisco Bay view from Angel Island State Park

Photo by Shaun Edward

Angel Island State Park is open seven days a week from 8am to Sunset. Wherever you may choose to wander on the Island, you’ll probably need to come back again and again before you’ve had your fill.




Shaun Edward Photography


First, let me welcome you back to Sausalito Waterfront! After a seven-month-or-so hiatus, the blog is back. With any luck, the posts will become regular for a while again, at least until school starts stealing all my time.

Second, the rebirth of the blog now includes a new section, Sausalito Hiking. While obviously still in it’s infancy, the ultimate goal of this section is to build up a post for as many of the hiking trails in and around Sausalito as I can. So, to the point then.

Tennessee Valley is “an amazing offshoot of the Marin, with hiking trails to suit the whole family,” according to the National Park Service. The Tennessee Valley, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, stretches from Highway 1 and Tam Junction all the way to the Pacific Ocean. To get to the trailhead, turn West off of Highway 1 onto Tennessee Valley Road just South of Tam Junction. If you go on a weekend, you’ll probably be able to find it simply because the car ahead of you will be turning there too.

At the end of the road, there is a dirt and gravel parking lot as well as lots of stables. The parking lot seems enormous, but be warned, it fills up early on the weekends. Fortunately, there are lots of places to park off the side of Tennessee Valley Road as well.

The parking lot is to the left. Yes, that paved road is, in fact, the "trail."

The “trail” starts at the West end of the parking lot. But calling it a trail is a bit misleading. More correctly, it’s a road with a gate across it. It’s paved at first, turning to dirt after the first half mile or so. The Tennessee Valley Trail is the main artery along the valley floor. There are lots of other trails that cross the valley, but thank’s to the GGNRA’s excellent signage, you’d have to be very dull indeed to get lost.

The Upper Valley Trail allows for some views of the beach and the nearby wetlands of the valley floor.

About two thirds of the way to the coast, the trail splits into the Upper and Lower Valley Trails. They both go to the exact same place, so I opted to take the high road on the way out and the low road on the way back. And the verdict? It doesn’t really matter. The Upper trail (which isn’t really very “upper” at all) offers some nice views of the valley floor and the beach. The Lower trail does without the view, but is more like a trail than a road. Also, the lower trail is closed to bikers and horses, making it a more pleasant place to hike. No dogs are allowed anywhere in Tennessee Valley except on the Coastal Trail.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area has been around since 1972.....This photo, however, has been around since only this morning. Technology = Win

After 1.7 miles, the trail ends at Tennessee Beach, which could best be described as a miniature version of Muir Beach. Most of the valley was blanketed by coastal fog when I visited, but on a nice day it would be a great beach to enjoy. I’m from Hawaii, so I’m not one to ever use the blanket statement “No Swimming,” but the shore break is pretty rough. Use you’re judgement, and don’t go in the water if you’re helpless and going to drown.

Just like a miniature of Muir Beach, complete with a stream and everything.

Since the trail dead ends at the beach, the return route is the same, and flew by surprisingly quick. At about 3.5 miles round trip, a quick hiker can do the round trip in an hour, but an hour and a half of actual hiking is probably a better guess for the average person.

People with babies made up a sizable chunk of the trail users.

Thoughts? The valley and beach are both beautiful, and it’s cool to find a beach tucked so far away from roads–hiking to a beach gives a much greater sense of accomplishment than driving does. But that said, the mobs of hikers and bikers make this hike less than ideal if you hike to be left out in nature. This is definitely one to do on a weekday. It’s so short and so easy, you really have no excuse. So go do it!