The Island Where Angels Have Tread


f you ever get the opportunity to visit Angel Island, do not pass it up. It is not accessible by foot or by car-only by way of sailboat and/or commercial ferry. It is a state park lying  about one mile south of Tiburon. On a recent trip to the island, I was not only surprised by its natural beauty but also by its spirit of long-standing history and adventure.


The history of the island goes back as far as three thousand years when it served as a fishing and hunting site for the Coastal Miwok Indians. It has also served as a cattle ranch and army post. For thirty years the island was used to process immigrants and house POWs. For a few decades the island was also home to the Nike missile site.

Today, the island is a destination for hiking and biking, picnicking and sightseeing. Segways can be rented, but not brought from home. Rollerskating, skateboarding and rollerblading is also prohibited. Don’t be alarmed by the native deer roaming the slopes, grazing on grasses, the geese floating in the harbor, the vultures keeping lookout from high treetops or the other critters scampering throughout the hillsides. The complete island loop is just about five miles of dirt and paved paths, traversing around abandoned buildings and ranger barracks. The hillsides are thick with tall, green trees and wheat-colored grasses. Atop the mountain you will get full panoramic views of the Golden Gate, Bay and Richmond bridges as well as Alcatraz Island, the skyline of San Francisco, Tiburon, Sausalito and other neighboring cities scattered in the distant cliffs.

I have visited the island on three separate occasions and the weather has been different each time. Dressing in layers is the best way to go to insure personal comfort and there are lockers on the island in the event you need to store a backpack. There are fully working (and clean!) bathrooms, a café, a museum and a giftshop to pick up some souvenirs from your journey. The views are truly amazing and if you’re lucky enough to sail under a blue sky, relaxation is the only call that beckons. It would be easy to lose a day strolling up the mountain and down again, grazing on a picnic lunch and resting in the grass in the sunshine. However if you are limited to just a few hours, it is also easy enough to push through and take in the views, some history and a bite at the café. Offering a little bit to everyone, this island is not to be missed. If you have the opportunity, grab it!




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