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The forecast for San Francisco on Saturday initially called for clouds, possible showers and wind. Not exactly an optimal day for views of the City by the Bay. Good thing the forecast was entirely wrong.

Angel Island might have been THE place to be for such views. Entirely clear skies, light breeze and fall-like temperatures all added up to a terrific backdrop for a hike.

There aren’t a lot of different options for where to go on the island but there are about a dozen miles worth of trails. From the boat arrival area, which also includes a visitor center, a cafe, restrooms, and other facilities, we immediately headed up to the highest point, also known as Mount Livermore, a 788-feet-high summit that sits nearly in the middle of the state park. From there, 360-degree views are available, as are picnic tables, overlooks and not much else. It takes a few hundred steps to climb up the trail to the summit, but it is neither rigorous nor unpleasant at any point.

Spring is better for spotting the wildflowers that bloom across the 1.1-square-mile island, but the many different tree varietals – eucalyptus, pine, oaks, madrones and more – offer plenty of lush growth.

After the summit, most people circle the island on the five-mile-long Perimeter Road, which can be accessed by taking some of the trails that criss-cross the interior. The road is popular so watch out for bicyclists, strollers, joggers and the occasional park maintenance vehicle.

It also provides way station stops at historic structures. Angel Island has a rich history, and not just the wartime buildings that are now preserved or recreated to show the island’s extensive role in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War as well as World Wars I and II. Some of the buildings have National Historic Landmark status and are now opened to tours. On a previous visit, I toured some of them, impressed by the history and the poignant stories of the people who either were detained there or were there in the service of our nation’s military.

Long before those conflicts, Coastal Miwoks lived there several thousand years ago and there is evidence of their lifestyle in some of the rock formations and beachfront settings.

While deer were plentiful on Angel Island last weekend, people were not. The place can get quickly crowded, with each of the ferries packed to the gills. (The only way to reach the island is by boat. There is ferry service between the park and San Francisco, Tiburon and Alameda.)

But on a November weekend that felt closer to summer than fall, and with a blue sky offering clear views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the SF skyline and about a zillion sailboats, it was an ideal spot for a  quick getaway into nature.


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