The hubs wanted to shoot the sunrise last weekend and picked China Camp Village as our spot! Love it when he makes the plans and I can just be along for the ride! China Camp State Park is about an hour away from us and we wanted to be at the historic shrimp-fishing village for sunrise. That in itself is a big feat since the hubs normally does not like being up that early on a Saturday. It was so worth it! As we were heading south on the 101 it started off dark, then became lighter, pinker, and as we pulled into the park it was bright pink and purple!
We parked just outside the entrance to China Camp Village, paid our fees, and walked down to the shore just in time to watch the sun rise over the hills across the bay. We stood and enjoyed the view, we figured out our spots to take pictures, and absorbed the quiet peacefulness only the early morning can bring. Have I mentioned my obsession of the ocean? It brings peace to my entire soul. The hubs and I were the only ones there to experience the sun rising. This is normally a busy park and proved us correct just a couple hours later.
After enjoying the sunrise we headed back to the car to get our backpacks on and head out for the hike around China Camp State Park. From the parking lot at China Camp Village we followed the short trail along North San Pedro Road and crossed over to the Shoreline trailhead. Careful crossing! Cars zoom around the corners, wild turkeys roam the trails and deer like to block your path!
The views of the bay and Rat Rock Island are great from this trail. The elevation gain is minimal and it gives you time to meet the locals hanging out on the trails. A couple of deer were on our path munching on leaves and really didn’t care that we wanted to pass them. Being near the road still we didn’t want to startle them and have them run out toward cars so we patiently walked slow inch by inch until they went uphill and off the trail. This is their home and we are just guests!
Winding around and through the trees we crossed over the driveway to the ranger’s residence and realized we both needed a hiking pass. Thank goodness there was a kiosk so we could buy a second one for us just in case we got stopped by the deer and were asked for our hiking pass (it’s only $3/person and goes toward a good cause!). From here you go from sea level up switchbacks to Oak Ridge Trail. When you reach the top of this and before the McNears Fire Trail you will see a small path leading to the left. Take it! Amazing views of the bay, the Richmond Bridge and the city beyond are right there!
There was some sort of race going on at the park so we opted for an alternate route so we wouldn’t be in the way of the runners. We followed the Oak Ridge trail up to the Ridge Fire Trail. This is where there is some elevation gain. Watch your step as you climb up the steep part! The ground gave way and I went down on my knee that I had injured a couple weeks prior falling on the sidewalk in downtown Sonoma. Seriously, I only fall when I am sober! This one tweaked my knee and ankle a little but I kept climbing. Slowly, but I kept going. It wouldn’t be a hike without me falling at some point!
When you reach the top of the hill, turn around and enjoy the views of the path you were just on. We paused to say hello to a young buck that was chowing on one of the trees then headed back downhill along the gentle switchbacks. We ended up on the same trail as the runners and stayed to one side as we watched them jog by us. When we reached the Shoreline Trail again we opted to cross the road and walk out to Turtle Back Hill. Cars were lined along the road waiting for their runners to come back to them before the king tides swept them away. We followed San Pedro Road back to our car since there were still runners on the trails. It was nice walking along the bay. You get to notice all the animals in and out of the water and unfortunately all of the trash that gets stuck along the shoreline.
I love these early morning hikes! We are done before the majority of people are hitting the trails and we get to beat the traffic both ways! There are a few sets of trails to explore there and one day I would like to check out the campground so we can see both the sunrise and sunset along the bay.
Parking= $5 plus a hiking/biking permit per person $3, flushing toilets at most of the parking spots or portable potties, 50% sun, 7.2 miles, approx 700 ft elevation gain, no dogs, lots of mountain bikers.
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