Activities

Enjoy our trails, beach, and water

Hike, Bike, & Ride

China Camp offers visitors 15 miles of multi-use trails, accessing tidal wetlands, lush forests, and grassy wide meadows. Here’s a sampling of some of our most popular routes. For more details, see our park brochure and map.

Pets

Note that pets are not allowed on any trails in the park. Pets are allowed, on 6-foot leash only, picnic areas, at the beach at China Camp Village, on paved roads, and in Back Ranch Campground (open to camping guests only). Learn more about park rules and regulations.

e-Bikes

Also note that only Class I (pedal-assist) e-bikes are allowed on China Camp’s trails, with a maximum speed of 15 mph (5 mph on blind corners and when passing other trail users).

PARK HOURS

Trails, parking lots, picnic areas, and day-use areas are open 8 am to sunset. The park is open year-round.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

Additional information can be found here.


Turtle Back Nature Trail
LENGTH: 3/4-MILE
rating: EASY

This hiker-only loop circles an oak-studded knoll surrounded by vibrant salt-marsh habitat, home to two federally endangered species: the tiny salt marsh harvest mouse and Ridgway’s rail, a medium-size shorebird with a distinctive clapping call. The mostly flat, ADA-designated trail is wheelchair-accessible, and features large educational signs, as well as tactile features and an audio tour for the visually impaired. Click here for the downloadable audio tour.

Springtime along Miwok Meadows fire road portion of Shoreline Trail by Harriot ManleyShoreline/Bayview Loop Trail
Length: 6.9 Miles
Rating: Moderate

This China Camp classic makes a wonderful option for an all-day hike or satisfying mountain-bike ride, with lush forests, peaceful meadows, and peekaboo views of the bay. From Shoreline Trail at either end of the park, climb via switchbacks and gentle grades to meet Bay View Trail, then drop back down to Shoreline to finish the loop.

Man on gravel bike on Bay Hills Road in Barbier City Park on border of China Camp by Harriot ManleyBay View Trail/Bay Hills Trail/Back Ranch Fire Trail
length: 5.6 Miles
rating: Strenuous

Hike, pedal, or ride to the top of San Pedro Mountain for great views of Mount Tamalpais and the Coast Range as it rolls north through Marin County, Mount Diablo to the south and east, then Napa and Sonoma to the northeast. Start at Shoreline Trail near Back Ranch Meadows kiosk, then climb Bay View Trail to Echo Trail. Next, join paved Bay Hills Road (road is closed to public use so no traffic) to climb to the roughly 1,052-foot summit of San Pedro Mountain. Finish with a challenging descent on Ridge and Back Ranch Fire Roads to Shoreline Trail and your starting point.

Multi-Use Trail Etiquette

With so many different types of visitors enjoying the trails at China Camp, it’s essential that everyone–hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians–adhere to the following rules to keep everyone safe. Here’s the general rule:

Hikers have the right of way to bikers.
Hikers and bikers must yield to equestrIans.

Here are other safety guidelines:

Only use signed, designated trails. Unauthorized social trails are illegal, damage sensitive habitat, degrade the San Francisco Bay watershed, and pose serious safety risks. See park map for designated trails.

Be courteous. All users of the trails in China Camp, including hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, and equestrians, should be respectful of other users regardless of their mode, speed, or level of skill.

Watch your speed. While it’s good to check your speed throughout the park (maximum 15 mph), be especially careful and reduce your speed (5 mph max) around blind curves or switchbacks.

Don’t block the trail. Be aware of other users from either direction and make room as needed. Whenever possible, if you need to take a break, find a wider section of trail. In general, hug the uphill side of the the trail to let others pass.

Pass on the left. Let others know you plan to pass, and only when it is safe to do so on the left. If the trail user in front of you seems unsure or unstable, be extra careful. (Mountain bikers should dismount and walk.)

Use a bike bell. Alert others that they’re coming with a friendly ding or two. At the very least, call out “On your left,” and pass on that side.

Respect private property. Some trails pass out of the state park and into private land. Respect all “No trespassing” signs and the be respectful when traveling through adjacent neighborhoods.

For more tips, see CA State Park’s Trail Etiquette and Safety guidelines.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

Additional information can be found here.

Paddle Sports & Swimming

Kayaker approaches Bullhead Flat launch site while another kayaker cheers by Harriot Manley

Locals who know a good thing often head to China Camp with kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddle-boards strapped to the top of their cars. No wonder: the park gives easy access to often-calm, protected waters with plenty of wildlife and an interesting shoreline.

As for swimming, China Camp is a secret sweet spot for distance swimmers, particularly in late summer and fall when bay waters warm to surprisingly comfortable temperatures (74 degrees F./22 degrees C. is average). And kids love splashing in the shallows no matter what time of year it is.

TIPS FOR SAFE PADDLING & SWIMMING
Launch in a designated site

China Camp State Park has two designated launch sites: China Camp Village and Bullhead Flat. Please use one of these locations for safest access, and to avoid damaging sensitive wetland habitat. NO MOTORIZED WATERCRAFT OF ANY KIND. Both of these day-use areas offer ample parking, flush toilets, running water, and picnic tables. China Camp Village also offers a sandy beach and private changing rooms, as well as cold outdoor showers for rinsing. Fee for parking is $5 per vehicle and can be paid onsite with cash or credit card.

Watch the tide

The bay waters fronting China Camp State Park are strongly affected by tides. Be sure to read local tide charts before you head to the park, or else your launch site might be a mudflat when you arrive.

Also be aware that strong tidal currents can make for challenging swimming and paddling; aim for slack tides, halfway between high tide (known as “flood tide”) and low tide (or “ebb tide”). Another tip: stay closer to the shore to avoid the strongest pull.

Life preservers are strongly recommended.

Additional information on boating and water safety, rules, and regulations can be found here. Note that mooring to the dock at China Camp Village is not allowed.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

Additional information can be found here.

Fishing

Fisherman casting off Weber Point at China Camp by Harriot ManleyFishing from the pier at China Camp Village is allowed with some restrictions. Hours are usually weekends 8 a.m. to sunset. No license is required for fishing from the pier.

Fishing in other areas of the park requires a valid California State Fishing license from CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. Popular fishing areas include China Camp’s scenic points, as well as Five Pines Point (near Bullhead Flat) and Fisherman Point (north of Buckeye Point).

Please remove all fishing lines, lures, and other items, including bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, and other garbage.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

Additional information can be found here.

Partnerships and Resources

Since 2012, Friends of China Camp has worked tirelessly to make our state park a friendly and open environment for the entire community. Our goal is to not only manage the park’s resources and protect its sensitive environments, but also to promote recreational opportunities for all, including hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, equestrians, cyclists, and all others who come to enjoy the natural and historic beauty of China Camp.

Here are some of the local supporters who have helped us in this goal.

Park Map
Annual Pass
Park Rules
Park Map
Annual Pass
Park Rules
Photos: harriot manley