Almost since the moment we all moved into Brohaus, there has been talk about taking a trip together. We dreamed of renting a castle, spending days on a houseboat, going to the beach, traveling together. After years of dreaming and vague plans, we never actually went on an offsite. In the spring of last year, I decided to do something about it.
Kirby Cove is one of the highest demand campgrounds in the country. It is situated in a small, private cove slightly northwest of the Golden Gate Bridge on the Marin County side. There, you’ll find an old fort called Battery Kirby and a beach offering sweeping views of the bridge and San Francisco. Within, there are 4 campsites and a day use site that are available by reservation only. Reservations open up 3 months in advance at 7am PST and are usually gone within a minute or two.
I woke up a few days at 6:45am, but the reservations were going extremely fast. I was almost going to automate the process, but fortunately I didn’t need to and landed a reservation for a Sunday night to Monday morning reservation.
Fast forward three months. When the day finally came around, we packed up a few cars with all our camping essentials and started the drive north.
Before setting up camp, we stopped for lunch at Le Garage, an affordable brunch spot offering quick and relatable French cuisine. It’s situated along the bay by the Liberty Ship Marina. The views are refreshing, the service is quick, there is plenty of (valet) parking and the food is top notch. If you are in the area, definitely stop by.
Given the large size of our group, we waited a while for our tables to get ready. As anyone would when they are about to go camping and get away from it all, we all pulled out our phones.
Some of us perused the menu.
A few of us worked on our dating profiles.
When the food came out, we were happy. My omelette was cooked perfectly and topped with the largest caper I have ever seen. The frites were perfect, crispy on the outside and a little mushy on the inside.
After we finished up lunch and packed back into our cars, we were off again, this time to Kirby Cove!
The drive there was an amusing experience. We were all in a line about to take a left into Kirby Cove road. On the opposite side of the road was a long train of tourists waiting to park at the lot for Battery Spencer. I noticed that if a lady driving a minivan were to just back up a foot or so, we would be able to squeeze our cars past and down towards to Kirby Cove gate.
I made eye contact with her, rolled my window down and asked if she could reverse a little so that we could get through. She must have been frustrated with the slow moving line she was in, and I could see it. After I spoke a few words, her eyes immediately lit up and she shouted back something along the lines of, “You’re going to have to drive all the way to the back of the line, mister!” I then calmly responded that we weren’t trying to cut in line and that we were actually trying to access a road to her right that goes down into the cove.
She looked down at the road to confirm that there was in fact a road leading down. Bewildered, she turned back and started slowly inching her car backwards. We waved thanks and continued driving down towards Kirby Cove.
Kirby Cove is only accessible by car to people who have permits (because of the extremely limited parking space). Hence, all campers and day users must display a printed permit for that day on their windshield and must use a combination to unlock the gate on Kirby Road. Here I am unlocking the gate.
After we got everyone through, we locked the gate back up and continued down the rest of the 1 mile dirt road towards the parking lot.
In true Bay Area fashion, we brought an electric car with us.
Even though we had made it all the way down the cove, there were still a few hundred yards between the parking lot and our camp spot. We had reserved space number one, arguably the best site, but also one of the furthest from the lot. As you can see below, there was plenty of dragging gear from our cars to the site.
Fortunately, the NPS made some wheelbarrows available for use. They made the job of transporting our items ten times easier.
Once we had everything at the site, we immediately started pitching our tents.
We brought the tent that we purchased for Burning Man and a smaller tent that JJ has.
This is one of the reasons that space one is the best. Just look at the view. Can you imagining waking up to this?
Below is an unedited panorama from the next morning. Scroll or swipe left and right to view it. Unfortunately, that morning was pretty foggy and SF was not visible.
Then came the exploring. In the picture below, the shaded area to the left is where our campsite is. The pathway in the center leads to Battery Kirby to the right. Battery Kirby, the namesake of the cove, was in use from the late 1800s to right around the time of World War II.
I guess boys will be boys. We climbed and explored all over the battery.
None of us knew that Eric was a parkour master. Look at those moves, and those shades.
Some of us were a little less talented in the parkour department. ^^
Drew, however, may actually be a monkey.
One of my favorite parts is a tunnel that leads to…
You guessed it, the ocean! We spent some time soaking in the views and the sound of the gentle waves on the beach.
Then we discovered the swing. Any of you who have been to Kirby Cove know the swing. It’s a rope that is tied to an old tree on one end and a small plank on the other. You may take a few tries to get enough speed and quickly plant your bottom on the plank, but once you get a hang of it, it’s a blast.
The feeling of nearly being launched into the ocean was both terrifying and liberating. Some of us counted the swing as our favorite part of the whole trip.
As the fire raged on, we sat around in a circle talking, took solitary walks to the beach, looked at the stars and even scared away a raccoon looking to get a free meal. I stopped taking photos at this point because I was so immersed in the experience. If you want to know more, you’ll have to ask one of us in person.
We are a bunch of goofballs and we did what goofballs do best. Mark got attacked by a rusted support.
Drew demonstrated proper tsunami evacuation form.
Mark got hungry and resorted to eating wooden signs.
We got to use our pocket knives to empty some water before leaving.
All trips need a jumping shot. I’m going to have to apologize at this point. It was my first time taking my (then new) camera with me and I didn’t properly set the shutter speed for this. The photos came out a little blurry, but nevertheless great.
We had an amazing experience. We may just want to make it a yearly thing. Kirby cove is everything we could hope for in a camp ground and the location for an offsite. You should go there and blog about your experience. Send me a link!