I love how many state and county parks there are in the San Francisco Bay Area. As the weather has warmed up and the sun’s come out a bit, I’ve been trying to see as much and as many of these parks as possible. Here are some I’ve visited:
Presidio and Baker Beach
This past weekend I spent the afternoon walking through the Presidio, from the gate at Lombard to Baker Beach. There are so many attractions at this park. I was surprised to walk by horse stables and I later read about a “mountain lake” in the Presidio, which I did not see. But I was able to get some amazing views of Crissy Field and downtown, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. Looking out at Crissy Field it was a beautiful sunny day and by the time I got to the Golden Gate overlook, and especially Baker Beach, the coast was entrenched in fog.
China Camp State Park
Last weekend I was eager to make the most of my Sunday by getting outside and soaking up some sunshine, which the city doesn’t always offer since the weather is so moody. I visited China Camp State Park in the north bay, located in San Rafael. It felt at least 10 degrees warmer than the city. The scenery along the two lane road to China Camp is mostly greenery and bay views, and the occasional passing car. China Camp was a Chinese shrimping village in the 1880s and there are some structures still standing (the crooked dock) that make it extra special. There are also re-creations of the little shacks where the shrimpers and their families likely lived. This was a self-sustained community so they had their own gardens. The only way in was by boat. For visitors today there is a small museum along the shoreline that displays the tools Chinese shrimpers used to haul in their keep. There are some beautiful hiking trails where you can really feel like you’re away from the city. And the shoreline is not too crowded (at least when I visited). If you walk north along the shore you can find a secluded spot to cast a fishing pole.
McNears Beach Park
This is a very well maintained county park down the road from China Camp. It has a volleyball court, a dock for fishing and plenty of grass to lay a picnic blanket. There is a sandy beach area for swimming and swimming pool, too.