Kirby Cove – San Francisco’s Hidden Gem
Shhhh… this is a secret spot. Keep it between us.
Just a few miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge – there’s a hidden cove at the bottom of the headlands with an epic panorama view of the GGB and San Francisco. It’s name… Kirby Cove.
Kirby Cove lies in a small cove at the bottom of the hill with beach access and is made up of 5 campsites and 1 day use site. So secluded, so close to the city, such a great view… This has become one of my favorite places to spend the day BBQing and hanging out with friends.
Why you should book Kirby Cove:
My trick is to book the day-use site to gain gate access (i.e. the ability to drive down to the cove) and enjoy a picnic with friends. The day-use site is a little easier to get your hands on compared to a campsite and can accommodate up to 35 people but does have parking restrictions to only 4 vehicles (you’ll get a bonus if you can figure out how to fit 35 ppl in 4 cars). Campsites accommodate 10 people & 3 vehicles (each).
All campsites and day-use have access to pit toilets, barbecue pits, picnic tables, fire rings & the beach (note: there’s no potable water). There are usually wheel barrows at the parking area to haul gear – if you don’t see any go browse the area as people tend to forget to bring them back from sites for others to use.
The campground can go from sunny to foggy in a matter of seconds so pack layers! Also be prepared for wind & rain in the spring. I’ve been in both April & July and the weather was surprisingly similar both times… foggy (womp womp womp). You’re already used to this if you’re a San Francisco native. So if you can nab a reservation for the indian summer that will be incredible – but it’s beautiful no matter the season and no matter what mother nature decides to throw at you. Living in San Francisco I’ve come to find the sound of fog horns like a white noise machine to put me to sleep…not all feel the same, so pack ear plugs if you’re camping overnight.
How to book Kirby Cove:
- Open: April 1 – November 30
- Booking window opens 3 months in advance (to the day). Mark your calendar and book in June for the SF Indian summer. i.e. login at the crack of dawn on June 17th to book Sept 17th. I believe the reservation site goes live at 7am everyday.
- Maximum number of nights you can book: 3
- If you’re trying to book a weekend plan to book Thurs – Sat night for better odds of nabbing a spot (nabbing the popular weekend nights by booking your first night on the Thursday for 3 nights). Keep in mind this is probably what other’s are doing too.
- Reservations can be made at www.recreation.gov
- Booking Fee: $25/night campground or $35/day for group day-use site.
- Check for cancellations…you might get lucky.
- When you book a site you will receive an email with details with the gate code, parking passes & details for campsite area.