China Camp Hike

East of San Rafael in northern California is a California State Park called China Camp. This 19th century Chinese settlement has a lot of history and some beautiful trails. Chinese immigrants created a self-sustaining shrimping village in this spot starting in 1880. Today you can walk on the old, crooked dock and tour a small museum with some artifacts from this time when about 500 people lived here. The park re-created the tiny houses settlers would have lived in at the time, which are very sparse.

China Camp is a great place to hangout on a sunny day, have a picnic or take a hike. On a recent weekend, my fiancé and I h hiked the Shoreline Trail. This 4.5 mile trail takes you through oak trees and tall grass with excellent views of San Pablo Bay.

Shoreline 1

Shoreline 2

Shoreline 4

Shoreline 5

Shoreline 7

If you go here, keep in mind you need to bring cash for parking OR park alongside the two-lane road. Sometimes these free spots on the road fill-up and you’ll have to park far from the trailhead. The spots along the road don’t leave much room for driving error, as a cliff to the bay is feet away with no guard rail in many spots.

It’s likely you’ll encounter others along your hike since this is a well-known trail, but most of the time we were alone on the trail. Here are some trail rules of etiquette to know if you go hiking:

  • You might have to stand aside on the narrow portions of the trail as other hikers pass. People going on the easy downhill portions should yield to hikers going uphill. Bikers should yield to hikers. Everyone yields to people on horseback.
  • Stay to the right on wider sections of trail.
  • Always pass on the left.
  • Stay on the trail to avoid trampling into an animal’s space (rattlesnakes are common in Northern California — I’ve come across a few).
  • Don’t hike alone!