China Camp State Park

Trail
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(3.00)1
(2.00)
(2.00)
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No
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San Rafael
Marin
More Info

Trail segments closer to shore flatten out and the sky opens up. San Pablo Bay can be seen in the distance.
Trail segments closer to shore flatten out and the sky opens up. San Pablo Bay can be seen in the distance.
China Camp State Park on the shores of San Pablo Bay once served as home to almost 500 residents of Chinese descent who fished for shrimp in the bay. At one time there were enough people in the area to support three general stores and a barber shop. Established as a park in 1976 the area now hosts recreation and historic enthusiasts.

The park's 1,514 acres feature trails that meander through the Oak filled uplands as well as through Sun drenched flats along the edges of marshland. Trails farther inland are provided with ample shade from the Sun thanks for the oaks that grow in abundance. Closer to the shore, on the edge of the marshes, the sky opens up.

The Shoreline Trail occasionally meanders inland to avoid the marshy lowlands nearer the shore. Shore birds such as Egrets can be found searching for food here.
The Shoreline Trail occasionally meanders inland to avoid the marshy lowlands nearer the shore. Shore birds such as Egrets can be found searching for food here.
The park's trails are shared by hikers and mountain bikers. Fire trails are wide and allow plenty of room, but space can be more constrained on the single track paths. It's a good idea to be alert and ready to move to one side or the other when encountering an oncoming cyclist.

Portions, though not all, of the park's trails are ADA accessible. Shoreline Trail and Turtle Back Trail near the western boundary of the park are marked as accessible. Look on the park brochure for the trail segments highlighted in yellow for these easier routes that might also be ideal for visitors with smaller kids.

The remains of the China Camp village are now preserved in the park boundaries.
The remains of the China Camp village are now preserved in the park boundaries.
The park opens up into wide, flat marsh land along the shore. Sprinkled along this flat canvas are a few high points with colorful names like Turtle Back Hill, Chicken Coop Hill and Bullet Hill. The park's brochure map shows Jake's Island to be separated from the mainland. Marsh is neither land nor sea but in the gray area in between. Depending on the tides, one may be hard pressed to think of it as an island as opposed to just another hill.

Near the southern end of the park sits the remainder of China Camp. A long boat dock, shrimp drying buildings, living quarters and other support structures remain. An exhibit near the boat dock provides some context into the history of the area and successes, trails and tribulations faced by the residents who settled here and made a living from the sea.

Photos
The more inland segments of trail provide ample tree cover for relief from the Sun. (Photo by Austin Explorer)
Turtle Back Hill is to the left and Jake's Island is closer to the center. Though the island looks land locked, it's surrounded by Marsh that can be impassible at times. (Photo by Austin Explorer)