While it is true that our National Parks are closed to hiking and backpacking while the Federal closure is in effect, state, regional, county, and city parks are not. Unfortunately, many people are confused about what is open and what is not. This confusion has caused a drop in attendance at California’s parks regardless of who owns and operates them.
John Koeberer, CEO of California Parks Company, which operates concessions in both national and state parks says, "It's the national parks that have been affected by the federal shutdown, but at Angel Island, a state park, we've seen a big drop in visits."
In the Bay Area there are a huge number of parks that are open and unaffected by the shutdown; why not make your way to one of our jewels?
Angel Island State Park—ferries are running; park is open. Hike around the island, visit the Immigration Museum, picnic on the beach. General info and ferry info, click here. To reserve campsites, go here.
Mount Tamalpais State Park (Marin County). Hike on the 50 miles of trails; climb to the peak of Mount Tamalpais at 2,571 feet. Hiking trails and link to reserve campsites, click here.
Samuel P. Taylor State Park (Marin County) is open to hikers and camping as usual. Hike or camp under the towering coastal redwoods. You can even find info on being a camp host.
Henry Coe State Park (Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties). Coe Park is the largest state park in northern California. The terrain of the park is rugged, varied and beautiful, with lofty ridges and steep canyons. The park is open year-round. There is day hiking, but considering the distance, better suited for a night or two of camping or lodging nearby in Morgan Hill. Click here for camping reservations.
Robert Lewis Stevenson State Park (Napa County). Spring and fall are the best times to hike the rugged, 5-mile trail to the top of Mt. St. Helena (4,343-ft.) for tremendous views of the Bay Area, even the Sierra Nevada, on clear days. However, if does snow on occasion so check the weather forecast. Carry water and sturdy shoes. Wear layers to avoid chill.
State Parks further afield—Mendocino Headlands, Van Damme, Russian Gulch, and MacKerricher Beach in Mendocino County are all state parks and open. (Note: due to state budget cuts, the last three have had some services curtailed. Call the Mendocino district at 707-937-5804, Mon-Fri. 8 a.m. -5 p.m., for details.)
Further State Park info: State of California Parks and Recreation, click here.
On a Regional Level:
East Bay Regional Parks has a calendar crammed with activities as diverse as standup paddling, bird watching, pumpkin festivals, and boating. You’ll find something for people of all abilities and ages at their site. Activity Schedule: Please click here.
Solano Land Trust (Solano County Parks) has a full calendar of events including hikes, photography workshops, and volunteer workdays. Please go here to view.
TRAC (Trails for Richmond Action Committee) focuses on activities happening on the Bay Trail in the vicinity of Richmond. On their current calendar you’ll find listings of hikes, bike rides, kayak tours, and community festivals and pancake breakfasts. Go here to view.
On the Bay Area Ridge Trail you’ll find activities for the whole family. Over 340 miles of the Ridge Trail are open to hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians. Click here for ridge trail info.
Sad as the shutdown is, it is comforting to know that there are a vast number of places where we are free to get out and explore our own backyard—maybe even the wilderness—to recreate and to restore mind, body, and spirit.
Susan "backpack45" Alcorn