Angel Island State Park: Hiking the Perimeter Trail

Angel Island State Park is located only 30 minutes via boat from the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco. Yet, many people who live and visit the San Francisco area have never been. I went for the first time in late 2018, and it was an incredible island with tons of hiking trails and history to explore. I already can’t wait to go back again, and here is all the information on the main hike there, the Perimeter Trail.


  • Multiple hiking trails
  • Camping can be reserved online
  • $20 round trip for the ferry per person
  • Be sure to note ferry times so that you do not miss your boat back
  • This information is from my visit in 2018
  • Read more of my favorite San Francisco spots here


Here is a video of my time on the island.

Getting There

The ferry to the island can be found at Sausalito, Tiburon and San Francisco. We were in San Francisco, so we took the ferry from Pier 41, which is right next to the popular tourist area of Pier 39. You can buy tickets from the kiosk there and then board 10 minutes before your boat is scheduled to leave.

The Ferry

The ferry ride was one of the best parts of exploring the island as it is a 30 – 45 minute ride that gives you a great view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance if it is clear.

There are two decks and an interior so you can explore and get lots of pictures. The boat may stop at Sausalito or Tiburon on the way there or back, but it never stays too long.

The Island

Once you get to the island, you will be greeted by a ranger who will answer any questions and point out trails on the island map.

There is also a cafe here if you want a drink or some food.

During select days you can rent bikes or take a tram tour, but it does depend on the day as we planned to rent bikes when we got there, but the bike rental was closed.

If you can rent bikes, then the Perimeter Trail would be a great trail to bike on as it is paved the entire way.


There are two main trails here, the Sunset Trail and the Perimeter Trail. The Sunset Trail takes you to the summit of Mt Livermore, and it is steeper but provides excellent 360-degree views of the area and even San Francisco if it is clear.

The Perimeter Trail is 5 miles round trip, and it goes in a circular path around the outskirts of the island with many points of interest along the way. Here are some of the things you will see on the Perimeter Trail.

Immigration Station

The Immigration Station is one of the primary destinations on the island, and it is about 1.3 miles from where the boat drops you off. Many people come just to visit this spot, and it has a lot of unique history.

The island processed almost a million immigrants, and it was known as the Ellis Island of the West Coast.

There is a small museum there that shows what life was like on the island for immigrants, and it costs $5, so bring cash if you want to see it.

Fort McDowell

The other main point of interest that is another .3 miles from the Immigration Station is Fort McDowell. This area has the remains of the old military fort that was here, and it still has a half dozen or so buildings in different states of disregard.

You can’t go in most of them, but there are a few that you can still walk around and explore. I enjoyed walking around here and seeing the old decaying buildings, and I want to come back here just to see this spot again and spend more time exploring it.

Battery Ledyard

As you make your way around the backside of the island, you will eventually reach Battery Ledyard, which is a pretty unique battery to see on the edge of the island and with a great view out over the water.

Camp Reynolds

Lastly, the trail will take you by Camp Reynolds or the West Garrison, which was the main area for the enlisted men to live while on the island.


I also wanted to note that there are a lot of deer on the island. As we hiked the Perimeter Trail, we saw six deer at different places along the trail. It was fun to be able to see them up close like this, especially so close to San Francisco.


Lastly, if you want to spend more time on the island, camping is available. I haven’t done it myself, but I am sure it would be fun to spend a night on Angel Island.

Let me know what I left off that you like doing on Angel Island, and if you haven’t been, be sure to check it out.

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