Angel Island has been mentioned by previous coworkers and friends independently, so it was on our SF bucket list for a while. Finally when we had a deadline (leaving the Bay Area), we just had to do it. On an April weekend with cloudy forecast, we grabbed two sandwiches from Lou’s in the Richmond on our Saturday bike ride, and saved them for our Sunday trip to Angel Island.
Blue & Gold Fleet Ferry
We took the ferry from Pier 41 around 10am, their seasonal schedule and pricing here. The schedule at the time had limited amount of ferries on weekends, and the one we took stopped at Sausalito and Tiburon before Angel Island. Ticket was around $9.5 one way, we just got tickets both ways since this ferry company was the only option. If the last ferry still departs 4pm-ish and you plan on hiking AND visiting the immigration museum, I’d recommend taking the first ferry if possible. On the ferry, you can sit down and chat, walk around and take pictures on multiple decks. It was pretty windy and could be chilly sometimes, a jacket might come in handy or just go back inside to the cozy cabin.
The ferry is bike friendly, sometimes there is a different line for bikers. We brought our own bikes, even though the bike routes were quite challenging for me with elevation gain. Here’s the popular bike routes, we mostly biked from the Ayala Cove to the trailhead, and to the immigration station – the hills were not very easy but do-able, uphill usually not too long, and the view was stunning.
There is also bike rental on the island near the ferry terminal, if you don’t want to carry your bikes or just want to bike on a whim. It might be more expensive than in the city, but save time and effort to bring a bike on and off the ferry.
Duck family were spotted on the detour from Ayala Cove to the picnic area!
Lunch plan: picnic!
Picnic is certainly the best lunch experience on Angel Island. If it was not possible to bring food along, there is still one cafe on the island – Angel Island Cafe. I have not personally tried it yet, but it might be more for tourists. For picnic, there is a large picnic area, and some tables have grills for BBQ as well.
Hiking Mountain Livermore
This was definitely the highlight of our day trip. We first biked to North Ridge Trailhead, where there were a couple of picnic tables and a bike rack. There were signs along the way, and you can also get a map at the ferry dock to double check. We used a mix of signs, paper map, and Google maps to reach the summit.
There was a variety of sceneries along the hiking trail, sometimes spiky bushes, tall trees (wish I knew the names of them), lush green plain, and overlook to the water.
Finally, we reached the peak – the view was so worth the sweat from the hike, with 360 degree view of the Bay Area. Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, iconic buildings, sail boats, were all in sight.
U.S. Immigration Station
Check the hours and tours at the museum here (Wednesday-Sunday 11am-3pm). After our hike, it was already almost 3pm. The last ferry was around 4pm, so we only had little time at the immigration station, which was already closed at 3pm. However, there were still outdoors monuments and signs to learn about the history of how immigrants (usually Asian) used to be detained at Angel Island. Oh, we also spotted a deer crossing the road in the quiet station!
Angel Island was perfect for a day trip, some previous coworkers also did a team offsite there. Hiking and biking were perhaps easy-medium difficulty and not to everyone’s like, but it would be great fun even just taking a walk on island with such amazing view. It was also possible to camp there and the campground is one of the most popular in the Bay Area, just that everything has to be carried via the ferry. On our day trip, we only explored maybe a quarter of the island, and I would definitely want to go back and camp for a day or two.