Kirby Cove is located just north of the Golden Gate Bridge close to downtown San Francisco, at historic Battery Kirby. Visitors are awarded breathtaking views of San Francisco, its famous Golden Gate Bridge and the rugged Pacific Coast of northern California.
Hiking, picnicking and taking in the beautiful views from Kirby Cove are among the park's most popular activities. Visitors also enjoy exploring Battery Kirby, a historic army battery in use from 1898-1934. The Point Bonita Lighthouse and Nike Missile Site SF-88 are also close by.
Kirby Cove offers five overnight camping sites and one day-use picnic site, all reached via driving on a steep access road. The day-use site is available as an accessible picnic site for persons with a disability or otherwise limited physical mobility. Sites 2 and 5 are available as accessible campsites for persons with a disability or otherwise limited physical mobility. If sites 2 or 5 are already reserved and you are looking for an accessible campsite, please contact the Marin Headlands Visitor Center (415) 331-1540 for assistance.
Kirby Cove offers a pristine coarse-sand beach with spectacular views - when it's not foggy- of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and northern San Francisco, including the historic Presidio. The cove is nestled at the foot of the craggy Marin Headlands just west of the Golden Gate Bridge. A steep, mile-long trail to the cove begins at the parking area above Battery Spencer on Conzelman Road. The path descends through a stately grove of Monterrey pine and cypress and Blue Gum eucalyptus. Coastal sage and colorful Lupine dot the hillsides. Temperatures are mild year-round. Expect lows from 50-55 degrees and highs from 60-65. Fog is prevalent in the summer months from May-Sept. It is best to bring clothing that can be layered. Lightweight summer clothes are rarely comfortable to wear at Kirby Cove.
The San Francisco Bay Area has no shortage of fun and interesting things to do and see. Awe-inspiring Muir Woods National Monument, with its old-growth coastal redwood forest and numerous hiking trails, is just a 20-minute drive from Kirby Cove. Mount Tamalpais State Park, with hiking and sweeping views of the Bay Area, is another 10 minutes past Muir Woods.
Downtown San Francisco offers a myriad of restaurants, shops, museums and tourist attractions. Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz Island and Chinatown are popular destinations. Visitors love riding San Francisco's world famous cable cars up and down the city's hilly streets.
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Kirby is a unique and unforgettable experience. Make sure you’re on top of the reservation window on recreation.gov, because there are only 5 super popular spots. Site 001 is the most popular for the views, but any of the sites are good, and most work well with groups of up to 10 people, and 2-3 medium size tents. Tent pads are provided, so try and avoid bribing your 15-person tent cabin.
Plan ahead: 1- if the fog roles in, prep for an all-night symphony of fog horns. Bring ear plugs. 2- the raccoons are vicious and fearless. Store all food and ANYTHING with a scent in the bear box. If you plan to leave your cooler outside of the bear box make sure it has a lock or secure latch. 3- you get a gate code and parking pass to drive down, but have to walk your gear the last 500-1,000 ft. to your site. Wheel barrows are provided, but packing a bit on the lighter side is best. 4- No water is available, so make sure to bring enough for drinking, cooking, washing up, and putting the fire out.
Fun: Relax and let the Insta-gold views fill up your like quota, but expect to be joined by plenty of day trippers making the long hike down to the beach. Expect it to empty back out again around dinner time. Spend your day on the beach or exploring the rest of the Marin Headlands. Check out the Nike Missile site, Point Bonita Lighthouse, Rodeo Beach, and the endless miles of hiking and biking trails.
Aoit a half mile hike or less to the camp sites, a locked gate at the entrance and only five sites. If you can get a spot, camp here. It's worth every bit of time. The camp has it's own beach and is right by an old missile sight you can check out. Highly recommended.
Kirby Cove is a campground different than I have ever experienced before. You’re clearly very close to everything (i.e. San Francisco), while feeling like you are away from everything at the same time.
The campground is located in the spectacular Golden Gate National Recreation Area and down a 1-mile dirt road from Hwy. 1. You’ll get a gate code when you make a reservation so you can access the road.
All sites are walk-in, so depending on which site you get you might want to bring a cart of backpack to haul your gear to your site. We camped in site #1, which was awesome, but also the furthest from the parking lot at about 800 feet each way.
The views from site #1 are spectacular. You’ve got front row seats to the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco to your south. The site is located on a bluff just above the Kirby Cove beach.
Battery Kirby is right there at the campground and interesting to explore. Active from 1898 to 1934 the battery in quite interesting to walk through, despite the vandals that have clearly spent a lot of time there. Aside from the battery there isn’t a lot to do at the campground and we spent half a day picking up garbage at the beach.
There is however a ton of wonderful hiking in other parts of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, but you will need to drive to access the other trailheads.
Before camping here we were warned about the fog horn going off all night, but we didn’t hear it once during the night, so maybe we got lucky.
Very easy to get to from San Francisco. We had amazing views of the bridge and the city and were lucky enough to have a clear day (which is rare in SF!). We biked across the Golden Gate bridge and back. We hung out on the beach and had amazing views of the Golden Gate bridge from there. We had a great time in this area and would definitely recommend.
You can't find a better spot to see the Golden Gate bridge and the SF city skyline! The weather is almost always chilly in the evening and night so be prepared with jackets and GOOD sleeping bags. Honestly you could get away with a 0 degree bag here, which is so un common in Marin!
Be sure to walk the GG Bridge while you are here, even with the amount of people always present it is worth it. During the night go up to the look out point just south of the 101 exit before the golden gate. It is the closest and best location to view the GG Bridge at night with all its lovely lighting!
Absolutely beautiful site under a canopy of trees and protected from stiff winds. Three minute walk to the beach with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. You will pass Battery Kirby on the way to the beach. There are only five sites at this campground so you will be secluded. Carry in water and firewood.