Shoreline Trail, China Camp State Park, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California

Shoreline Trail - 6.5 miles

China Camp State Park

Looking north from the Shoreline Trail across San Pablo Bay

Looking north from the Shoreline Trail across San Pablo Bay

Round-Trip Length: 6.5 miles
Start-End Elevation: 40' - 15'' (100' max elevation)
Elevation Change: -35' net elevation gain (+1,370' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: Yes
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Shoreline Trail - 6.5 Miles Round-Trip

China Camp State Park is located on the shores of San Pablo Bay in Marin County. It protects some of the most intact salt marshes and wetlands in the San Francisco Bay estuary, along with diverse oak woodlands, grasslands and even three small redwood groves. 15 miles of multi-use trails can be linked for routes of varying distance and difficulty.

Trail Map I Photo Gallery

Coyote in Miwok Meadows - China Camp SPThe Shoreline Trail runs 3.25 miles from Back Ranch Meadows Campground through coastal hills and along the shore to China Camp Ranger Station at Bullhead Flat. It features great views and wildlife that includes turkey, coyote, bobcat and a variety of shorebirds and water fowl:

Cross the bridge from Back Ranch Meadows and turn left on the Shoreline Trail, which leads away from the campground and undulates across coastal hills with expanding views of San Pablo Bay.

It passes the Turtle Back Nature Trail (0.4 miles : 37') and continues south through rolling hills toward Miwok Meadows, a long coastal marshland with pools that attract waterfowl and wildlife.

The trail works around the marshland, bends back north (1.0 miles : 66') and lets out into the Miwok Meadows picnic area (1.2 miles : 38').

Follow the road .3 miles back to the Shoreline Trail (1.5 miles : 10'), which parallels the Park's main road with great views of San Pablo Bay (2.5 miles : 91'). It gradually descends to its terminus at the China Camp Ranger Station (3.25 miles : 15'). 

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N38 00.362 W122 29.677 — 0.0 miles: Back Ranch Meadows Campground (40')
  • N38 00.432 W122 29.434 — 0.4 miles: Turtle Back Trail Split (37')
  • N38 00.061 W122 29.326 — 1.0 miles: Cross bridge - head north (66')
  • N38 00.125 W122 29.195 — 1.2 miles: Arrive Miwok Meadows picnic area (38')
  • N38 00.335 W122 29.080 — 1.5 miles: Turn right onto Shoreline Trail (10')
  • N38 00.208 W122 28.747 — 2.0 miles: Hiking through forest (95')
  • N38 00.325 W122 28.462 — 2.5 miles: Trail rides the hillside - good views (91')
  • N38 00.163 W122 28.222 — 3.0 miles: Trail re-enters dark forest (81')
  • N38 00.177 W122 28.108 — 3.15 miles: Bear left towards Ranger Station (60')
  • N38 00.162 W122 28.059 — 3.25 miles: China Camp Ranger Station (10')

Worth Noting

  • Wild turkeys can often be seen feeding in the Miwok Meadows area in early morning.

  • The California clapper rail and the salt marsh harvest mouse are endangered species that live in the marsh areas of the park.

  • A Chinese shrimp-fishing village existed on this site in the 1880s. About 500 people, originally from Canton, China, lived in the village. During its busiest time, there were three general stores, a marine supply store and even a barber shop.

  • During its heyday in the 1880s, over 90% of the shrimp netted were dried and shipped to China or Chinese communities throughout the USA.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Back Ranch Meadows Campground reservations can be made all year-round by calling Reserve America at 1-800-444-PARK (7275).

All campsites at Back Ranch Meadows campground are HIKE-IN SITES for tent-camping only. Visitors must handcarry all equipment from the parking lot to the campsites. Campsites range from 50-300 yards from the parking lot. Eight persons maximum are allowed in each site. Check in time is 2pm or later and check out is Noon.

En-route camping is available for RV's with a grey water holding tank for one night only. No dump station or hook-ups are available. Enroute Camping is limited to space availability. Check in for enroute camping is 6pm and check out is 9am.

There is no backcountry camping in the park.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is not permitted in China Camp State Park.

Rules and Regulations

  • There's a $3 day use fee (per person) to enter and park in Back Ranch Meadows.
  • All trails close at sunset - no backcountry camping allowed. Fires are only permitted in campground BBQ areas.
  • Dogs are not permitted on any trail, but are permitted in developed areas and campgrounds.
  • Collecting artifacts is illegal and will result in stiff penalties.

Directions to Trailhead

From San Francisco - drive 11 miles north on HIghway 101 to the San Pedro Road Exit.

From the exit, head east (right) for 3.3 miles through residential neighborhoods to the Back Ranch Meadows Campground and entry kiosk. Turn right into the campground, pay the day use fee then drive to the day-use parking area. 

The gates are closed from sunset to sunrise.

Contact Information

China Camp State Park 
101 Peacock Gap Trail
San Rafael, CA 94901

Ranger Office: 415.456.0766

Business Office: 415.488.5161

Trip Reports

There are no trip reports on this trail.


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