It was a heart-sinking sight after a wildfire erupted on the Bay Area's Angel Island State Park on Sunday, October 12, lighting it up in bright orange streams. The park reopened to visitors on Monday, and though areas that were burned and most hiking trails are currently off-limits, this is a great time to visit, with fewer crowds, nice fall weather, and almost half the island untouched by the fire.
Autumn biking is always brilliant on Angel Island, and a pedal around the park is especially poignant now. Bring your two-wheeler or rent one at Ayala Cove ($10/hour or $35/day). The 5-mile, mostly paved Perimeter Road (some patches are a bit gravelly) roams from the cove past sweet-scented eucalyptus forests and historic military buildings that were saved from the fires. Rolling toward the southern part of the island, you'll catch the unmistakable smell left from the blaze; you'll see the fire-scorched moonscape just past Battery Ledyard as far as Fort McDowell. This two-wheel perimeter survey offers some of the bay's most spectacular viewpoints; you can even score a rare double-bridge sighting of the Golden Gate and Bay bridges in full form. And it shows nature at its rawest: beauty, fragility, and resilience. Full circle.