China Camp LbNA # 9868
|Placed Date||Aug 2 2004|
|Location||San Rafael, CA|
|Found By||winged gypsy|
|Last Found||Oct 4 2009|
**** Box #1 is missing!! Box #2 log if full.
I will replace both and update this site soon.
Top of Turtle Back – Letterbox #1
Come on out to China Camp and discover the nature of this wonderful park on this short ¾ mile (1 mile when including the letterbox hunt) nature trail. The State park was created in 1977 and encompasses 1,512 acres of shore line, salt marsh, and mountain terrain. On this particular route you will see and learn about the shoreline area's flora and fauna. Turtle Back nature trail is where the tideland and the upland plants and animals meet.
DIRECTIONS TO TRAIL HEAD
To find the trail head: From US-101, (from the North or South) exit on the North San Pedro exit (you’ll see signs for China Camp State Park. Once you exit the freeway, the first stoplight will be Civic Center Drive to the left and San Pablo to the right. Set your trip odometer at this intersection to follow mileage navigation for parking. Follow N. San Pedro all the way out to the park. Just past the China Camp sign on your left, you’ll see a ranger’s kiosk on the right (at mile 2.8). If it is open (often it is not) you can pull in and purchase a map for a nominal amount. Note - a map is not necessary for this hunt. Otherwise, keep driving another 4-tenths of a mile (total mileage 3.1 from the start) to the TurtleBack Loop. It is on your left side –across the roadway from the first trail access on your right. It’s easiest to park on the right side and walk across the street to the trailhead. You’ll see a wooden fence and an information kiosk. The kiosk has a map. Take a moment to orientate yourself with Bullet Hill. It will be handy later in your final navigation to the letterbox.
The clues to finding this letterbox are simpler than they might sound… follow these landmarks: Start by going to the bunch grass immediately on your left. And then onto the salt marsh on your right. Next you’ll see pickle-weed on your right. Followed by poison oak on your left – keep your distance from that! Next you’ll see the California buckeye on your left. IMMEDIATELY after the Buckeye turn left up the hill – on a smaller goat trail. This is where the trail gets a little bit steep. Head to the very top of the hill and look for the triple trunk tree on the top of the hill. Note: the triple trunk is not visible until you get right up to the tree. A line-of-site clue is also available if you watch for the roadway off to your left. The tree will be on your right just after you pass the centerline of road as you look down the length of the strait-away below – behind Bullet Hill. In the center of the three trunks you’ll find a small letterbox. Note: the stamp is carved into a beveled eraser - so be sure to press on the beveled edge to get a good imprint. Since the natural pocket is small, be sure to throw some leaves and sticks on top when you are rehiding the box. Once you’ve stamped in and tucked the box back into the hollow – be sure to enjoy the view from the top of the hill. Depending on the tide level, you might see water flowing through the marsh sloughs. And if you’re lucky you can spot a white egret hunting for a meal. To go back to your car, head down the hill (the same way you came up) once you get back to the trail and the California buckeye, turn left and continue on the loop. Keep following the landmarks- ferns, California laurel, annual grasslands, coast live oak, manzanita & madrone, and finally the California black oak. After the California black oak, you’ll be just about back to the road. Cross the road and walk left about 2 tenths of a mile back to your car.
Shrimp Fishing Village – Letterbox #2
Come visit living history at China Camp! WA JEN HA LIO is what the Chinese community that populated this area in the early 1880s called their shrimp-fishing village. Thousands of inhabitants lived here and fished for bay shrimp off of Point San Pedro. Still standing today are many of the original buildings and the main pier. And, even one of the original residents (Frank Quan) still resides here today and continues the fishing tradition.
From the Turtle Back trail head, jump back in your car and continue heading south. In another two miles (or 5.1 miles from the start) you’ll see a left turn down into the China Camp fishing village. You can either park up on the road and walk down or drive on down and park in one of the two lots provided. Note: if you do park in the lot there is a 5-dollar parking fee. If you do park on the road above it is a bit of a steep walk up and back, but that part of the walk is paved. Either way, make your way down to the village – where you can explore the old buildings and a mini museum of this historic place. (Museum is open 10 to 5 daily).
If you continue on foot south beyond all the bay-side buildings you’ll find a dressing room to your right and an outdoor shower just beyond that. If you stand on the shower block – facing the shower-head and look approximately 45 degrees to your left you will see a giant eucalyptus tree. Just to the left of the tree is a large tree stump. Under that tree you will find a large hollow. The tree stump appears to be in use as a table for some maintenance projects, but hopefully the stump itself won’t be disturbed. Since the hollow is rather large, I’ve taped a stick to the box to serve as a handle. The handle of the stick is tucked just out-of-sight inside the hollow up under the right edge. Since the hollow is deep, I thought the stick would make it easier to retrieve the box. Just be sure to pull on it gently so that it doesn’t break away from the box and leave it stranded deep inside the hollow. Please return it to that same position when rehiding the box. The stamp is large so make sure you ink up well before stamping your logbook.
Some notes about China Camp. Park hours are 8 a.m. to sunset. All parking places off the main road require a fee. Unfortunately, dogs are strictly prohibited from all places within the park. There are great trails on the west side of the road if you have some extra time to hike. Be aware of cyclist on the roads and trails at all times. The cyclists that share the trails are usually very friendly!