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Kirby Cove Camp

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Kirby Cove Camp is a campground and scenic area managed by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) in the Marin Headlands, California. It is located at sea level below Conzelman Road, which leads from the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge up and along the Marin Headlands overlooking the Golden Gate strait that leads into San Francisco Bay. A road behind a locked gate leads to Kirby Cove from just beyond Battery Spencer, the first set of bunkers encountered from Highway 101 at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.


Kirby Cove Camp is located on the north shore of the Golden Gate, in a sheltered cove. It features a small beach with rocky bluffs on either side. A coastal defense site, Battery Kirby, separates the campground from the beach. Much of the cove is forested by non-native eucalyptus, pine, and Monterey cypress. The forest and steep slopes around the cove provide some shelter from the often harsh winds of the Golden Gate. The cove is noted[] for its isolated feel adjacent to the large, urban setting of San Francisco.

Camping and hiking

Campsite 1 is located on a bluff above the eastern end of Kirby Cove Beach. Campsites 2, 3, and 4 are located away from the water, nestled within groves of trees. To view the Golden Gate, its towering bridge, the City of San Francisco and Land's End, one can walk to the bluff above the beach in front of the batteries and sit at a picnic table.

To access the area for hiking or occasional day-use, hikers and campers must hike past the locked gate and go down the mile-long road to the campsites and Battery Kirby.

Reservations must be made for Kirby Cove Camp for either overnight camping or day use. Limits are placed on the duration of stay and the amount of yearly use to open this opportunity for as many as possible.

Battery Kirby history

Kirby Cove – Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Location Golden Gate, California
Coordinates Coordinates:

Construction began in 1898 to place a maritime artillery battery in the valley just above a small beach close to the entrance to San Francisco Bay. As the plan was approved and construction began, the defensive battery was named "Gravelly Beach Battery", using the common name of the truly gravelly beach at the site. The battery was subsequently renamed Battery Kirby in honor of 1st Lieutenant Edmund Kirby, 1st U.S. Artillery. Lt. Kirby headed a Civil War volunteer battalion and was promoted to bridgadier general on the day that he died in combat at the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 28, 1863. The name then was extended to first the valley in which the battery was built, subsequently to the present National Park Service campground administrated by the GGNRA.

Battery Kirby saw service from 1898 to March 30, 1934, when it was placed in an abandoned status as obsolete.

Historical Information:

  • Kirby Battery was equipped with two 12-inch shell B.L.R. (breech-loading rifle) Rifles Model 1895 nos. 12 and 16
  • The artillery pieces were manufactured at the Watervliet Arsenal in Watervliet, New York – near Albany
  • Upon de-commissioning of the battery, the guns were sent to Ft. Mills, Corregidor, Subic Bay, Manila, Philippines in 1933(#12)and 1941(#16)

Originally, very few trees grew in the windswept and steep valley at Kirby Cove. Today's present forest was planted over the years as Battery Kirby was developed and occupied. It is dominated by cypress, eucalyptus and pine trees.

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Bommy Cha
13 May 2015
Amazing hidden gem. Beautiful backdrop of the golden gate bridge.
Uncle Fishbits
15 April 2012
World class camping out your back door.
Miles Ng
13 August 2016
Hidden Gem. You'll do a bit of hiking but it's totally worth it!!!! ????????????
Brenna Marketello
18 April 2016
Beautiful beach spot.
Gregory Trevor Rice
24 November 2015
Campers get a gate code to drive down, but cart gear last few hundred feet. Bring ear plugs for the fog horns, and keep anything scented or food-related in the bear box. Raccoons are bold and crafty.
23 March 2014
great view after kinda long walk..
Arsenio Santos
22 July 2013
Bring good hiking shoes.
Jose Capo
24 December 2010
Watch out for bears!
Benjamin Roodman
20 September 2010
The raccoons here are unstoppable.
Robert Molina
8 April 2017
Exelente vista hermozo lugar
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Kirby Cove Road, Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA

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