Hike Date: July 5, 2013
Distance: 4 miles
Trail(s): Shoreline Trail, SF Bay Trail
Where’s it at? San Rafael, east of Hwy101


China Camp California State Park lies on the east end of San Rafael in Marin County, in the northern San Francisco Bay Area, covering over 1500 acres. Historically, this was a Chinese fishing camp in the 19th century. It’s a very popular park for picnics, camping, hiking and biking, and also has a boat launch facility. The park has an extensive trail system which meanders through forests, hills and bay coastline with some fantastic views. The SF Bay Trail runs through this park as it winds its way around the San Pablo Bay. Dogs are permitted in the park in the day-use areas but not on any of the trails. Horses are allowed on some of the trails only. Check the official site using the links below for all rules and regulations.

This trip was really a short hike along the Shoreline Trail to the Miwok picnic area and back to the road, totalling only about 4 miles. It was my first group hike on meetup.com and there were about 35 of us total coming from several different meetup groups. All in all it was a good experience. The hike is very, very easy and can be accomplished in just about any kind of shoes. There is very little elevation change and the trail is well maintained and wide enough to avoid the poison oak littering the sides. Hikers are rewarded with views of the San Pablo bay area. Depending on the time of year, you might be dazzled by a fog show. It seemed like this was a great time of year to go (early summer) as the golden grassy hills dotted with oaks was in great contrast and the fog was not thick, but present enough to give the view a mystic quality.

The second part of this adventure was a pot luck picnic and bonfire. It was just about dark when we got to the picnic area and shortly after starting the large bonfire and unpacking the food and wine, a ranger stopped by. Turns out this was a reservation-only area, and also not open past sunset, so the group was in violation of those policies. We also had a couple dogs that were not supposed to be on the hikes. The ranger wasn’t all that nice but claimed to have had a rough weekend thus far with the Independence Day campers, fireworks, etc. It turned out to the one of the quickest pot luck picnics ever. The food was very tasty and in great proportion and variety.

I’d been to China Camp to mountain bike a long time back but forgot how beautiful the park is. I definitely want to come back here soon and do some more extensive hikes, or take a bike ride through the park.

Photos from Shoreline Trail in China Camp (click to enlarge)

Hiking the Shoreline Trail at China Camp SP Hiking the Shoreline Trail at China Camp SP Hiking the Shoreline Trail at China Camp SP

Directions to China Camp


View Hiking the Shoreline Trail at China Camp in a larger map

Weather at San Rafael, CA