We’re going to let you in on a little secret…one of our favorite secret spots, China Camp, is slated to be closed if enough funds are not raised by July 1. While this news is enough to bum anyone out (especially those of us who grew up frequenting such a hidden gem), the good news is that there’s still time to do something about this closure.

China Camp boasts many secluded beaches and hiking trails in this salt marsh with an oak habitat crawling with deer, coyote, squirrels, and even wild turkeys. Best of all? This bay hideaway is only a short drive away from the Bay Area. So what are you waiting for? Go up to visit China Camp and teach your kiddos the importance of giving back by making a donation to prevent the closure of this enclave of adventure and fun.

How to get here: From Highway 101, take the San Rafael exit east on Second Street. Second Street merges with Third Street, which turns into Point San Pedro Road. Follow it until you reach China Camp State Park.

What to bring: For fun in the sun, bring along sunscreen, sunhats, sunglasses, shovels and pails for building sandcastles, a change of clothes, swimsuits, beach towels, and plenty of water.

What to do: Tremendous efforts are under way to save China Camp from being closed this summer. Check out the calendar of events to see how you can help. Step back in time at this former Chinese shrimp-fishing village. The China Camp Village visitor’s center is a small museum that includes exhibits of what life was like for the fishermen in the late 1800’s. The long beach provides a relaxing and mellow spot to park it while the kiddos splash in the bay or play in the sand. Picnic tables are also available should you prefer a more elegant arrangement.

McNear’s Beach is part of a regional park that includes a fishing pier, swimming pool, volleyball and tennis courts, and a snack bar. With its many picnic areas and small yet safe beach, this is a terrific spot for an impromptu party or BBQ with friends. Pool access is $5 each. The parking fee is $8 during the week and $10 on weekends.

Take a gorgeous stroll along Loch Lomond Marina. Park at the end of the marina parking lot and you can walk out on the levy past the dog-walkers and fishermen with views of San Pablo Bay. Bring Fido along on a leash or find a quiet spot to breathe in the fresh sea air while your little ones climb the rocky shore. You might even spot some baby ducklings in the wetland preserve.

Where to eat: Pick up picnic supplies at Andy’s Local Market. It has a terrific deli with an abundant selection of take-away sandwiches (try the grilled Reuben), salads, and deliciously gooey pizza (the Loch Lomond with prosciutto is fabu!). The Quan Brothers Snack Shop (serving bottled sodas, ice cream, and a limited selection of sandwiches) at China Camp is usually open on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s a fun hang-out and you can chat with the last remaining resident Frank Quan.

Don’t miss: Hiking and biking on the trail in Miwok Meadows and the Turtle Back Nature Trail (perfect for little ones) that makes a short loop. Camping is also available on Friday and Saturday nights at Back Ranch Campground. Sign up in advance to reserve a spot on busy holiday weekends.

Junior Ranger Programs at China Camp State Park (geared for children 7-12 years old, but all ages are welcome) Hours: 3:30pm – 4:30pm
For more information, call Ranger Rejas at 415-456-0766 or e-mail crejas@parks.ca.gov
05/26/2012 Native Americans
06/30/2012 Weather and Climate

Online: friendsofchinacamp.org

— Nicki Richesin

If you would like to prevent the closure of China Camp State Park, you can make a donation or become a Friend of China Camp to help save this stunning and unique resource. 

photo credit: originallittlehellraiser via flickr & oliver pasco via flickr