Kayaking Crissy Field to Sausalito

GPS Track for this route.

This trip was initially planned as an overnighter.  As such, we loaded all of our camping gear and such into the holds of our kayaks.  The plan was to paddle to a beach in the Marin Headlands located at N37 49.403 W122 31.485, and hike up the trail to the Bicentennial Campground in the headlands.  This campground is very small (four “sites”) and it is free to camp there.  You do need to make reservations.  Peter scouted out the beach landings for us ahead of time, and the only problem seemed to be the short (quarter mile) hike from the beach to the camp – he reported that the trail (shown on some maps) was steep and perhaps non-existent.  We were ready for the challenge, and we set off from Crissy Field.  The 14 foot swell started to become evident as we were heading under the Golden Gate Bridge.  The swells were fairly steep, but still a ways from breaking.  Some of the steeper swells were a little unnerving even in our large double kayak.  This was going to be a short paddle, so we decided to scout out all of the beaches as we headed towards the beach closest to the campground.  Some of the beaches had fairly small waves, and were land-able.  Nevertheless, the beach where we planned to land had very large waves.  The frequency of very large waves was quite high (in fact, I didn’t see any small ones as we waited).  We decided that the landing / takeoff would be beyond our abilities to accomplish safely, and we decided to head back.  If you are thinking about doing this same trip, I’d suggest skipping it.  Besides the risk of landing on these relatively exposed beaches, there isn’t really a good place to leave your boat overnight.  The beaches are completely submerged during high tide, and anyone going under the Golden Gate will be able to see your boat sitting there.  Given all of these factors, this is not a good place for a kayak camping trip.  If, perhaps, there was a dock and a decent trail near this beach, I think it would be a wonderful kayak camping location!  Something to think about.

Launch at Crissy Field

Launch at Crissy Field

Heading out to the Golden Gate Bridge in Kayak

Heading out to the Golden Gate Bridge in Kayak

Kirby Cove as viewed from the water in Kayak

Kirby Cove as viewed from the water in Kayak

Kirby Cove as viewed from the water in Kayak

Kirby Cove as viewed from the water in Kayak.  Notice the depth of the wave troughs.

Kirby Cove as viewed from the water in Kayak.  We considered landing here, but the swell was far too large.  You could make a landing here, but the conditions need to be right.

Kirby Cove as viewed from the water in Kayak. We considered landing here, but the swell was far too large. You could make a landing here, but the conditions need to be right.

Beach Launch at Sea Trek Kayaks.

Beach Launch at Sea Trek Kayaks.

View of San Francisco from the Main Channel

View of San Francisco from the Main Channel

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1 Response

  1. Hops says:

    I totally get this. While on a kayak tour in the San Juan Islands it was not that easy to just find a place to camp. The tides are a challenge for many reasons: 1) if the tide is out at departure you are often having to attempt to pulled the boat out to water through a lot of deep muck. 2) the tides often come up and cover the entire beach, so camping on the beach is not a possibility. My passion turned to freshwater trips.