California poppies in spring at start of Turtle Back Nature Trail by Sheila Coll

Things To Do

Park highlights & tips

Plan the Perfect Trip

Here are some tips and highlights to help you plan your visit to the park. On this page you’ll find information about must-see features, the local weather and environmental conditions, park amenities and the park map.

Camping
Hiking & Biking
Park Map
Camping
Hiking & Biking
Park Map

Park Highlights

View of China Camp Village and Beach by Martin Lowenstein
Explore

China Camp Village

Visit our historic shrimping village and beach area on the edge of San Pablo Bay. The village is the perfect place to bring friends and family for a fun day trip. Visit our museum to learn more about China Camp’s fascinating history. Stop by our historic cafe on weekends for snacks and cold drinks. The site features first-come, first-served picnic areas with tables, drinking water, bathrooms, and an outdoor shower. Contact us to reserve this space.

Sign at entrance to Turtle Back Nature Trail by Harriot Manley
Go for a walk

Turtle Back Nature Trail

Often considered the heart of China Camp State Park, Turtle Back Nature Trail lets visitors experience both our vibrant tidal marshland and our lush oak woodland.

This ADA-accessible, family-friendly trail makes an easy 3/4-mile loop that’s designed to accommodate wheelchairs. It works well for strollers too. The scenic trail includes fun educational panels which offer tactile features for the visually impaired. To enhance your walk, listen to our free Turtle Back Interpretive Audio Tour. Please, no bikes or pets (except service animals) are allowed.

Plan Your Trip

China Camp Village pier by Steve Ziman
Know before you go
Weather

China Camp’s climate is coastal-temperate. Winter temperatures generally range from the mid-40s to high-50s. Winter storms can range from brief showers to heavy downpours. Summer temperatures usually range from the low-70s to low-90s during the day, while nights can cool off into the low-50s when marine fog sweeps in. The park has an average of more than 200 fog-free days per year. Summer afternoons are often blustery. Best weather often comes in the fall, with pleasantly warm days and refreshingly cool evenings.

Low tide exposiing mudflats at China Camp State Park by Harriot Manley
Know before you go
Tidal conditions

China Camp overlooks San Pablo Bay, the northern lobe of the San Francisco Bay. While the water can be chilly for much of the year, the temperature can warm nicely in late summer and fall (low 70s are common), providing some of the most comfortable and protected water sport conditions in the SF Bay region.

While China Camp ranks as a fantastic location for swimming, paddling, and other nonmotorized water sports, the park’s waterfront is strongly affected by tides. At low tide, large areas that look inviting can turn into mud flats in a matter of hours. Also, strong tidal pulls can be a challenge.

To avoid getting stranded in the mud, or getting caught in a tidal current, plan your aquatic adventure during a high tide, or during slack tides (halfway between high and low tide) when the tide is coming in.

Raised boardwalk along Turtle Back Nature Trail by Harriot Manley
Getting here
Driving directions

The park is located four miles east of San Rafael on the shore of San Pablo Bay. From Highway 101, take North San Pedro Road heading east for 5 miles until it enters the park. Contact us for more detailed information.

Picnickers enjoying China Camp Beach by Harriot Manley
Be prepared
Local amenities

Forget something? Check our list of local markets and other businesses where you can pick up supplies, rent equipment, get fishing equipment, and more.

Photos: Sheila Coll, Martin lowenstein, harriot ManleY