If you are looking for a day trip from San Francisco going hiking in Muir Woods is high on my list. With over 6 miles of hiking trails and located approximately 17 miles from San Francisco, it is the perfect destination when looking for an escape from the city.
Named a National Monument in 1908, Muir Woods is home to hundreds of plants and species. However, Muir Woods is most known for the Redwoods some of which are over 1000 years old. Towering over 200 feet it is definitely breathtaking to see the Redwoods in real life
Getting to Muir Woods from San Francisco
There are a few ways to get to Muir Woods from San Francisco however renting a car may be the best option. Please note as of January 2018 the National Park Service requires reservations for parking or anyone arriving via shuttle.
Parking at Muir Woods
If you are lucky enough to have a car and do not hit traffic you can get to Muir Woods in approximately 45 minutes. Just take the 101-N and you will be there in no time. Once you get there you have a few options for parking.
Muir Woods Shuttle
Marin Transit offers a Shuttle to Muir Woods seasonally from either Marin or Saulsalito. The shuttle runs on weekends and holidays year round and on weekdays between mid June and mid August. It is a good idea to check out the Marin Transit website for schedules.
If you are coming from San Francisco you have a few options.
Take the Saulsalito Ferry ($12.50) to the Shuttle. (Approximate Travel Time 1 hour 45 minutes).
Take the 30 or 70 bus to the Marin City Hub where you can catch the Shuttle to Muir Woods. (Approximate Travel Time 1 hour and 45 minutes depending on schedules).
Muir Woods Reservations.
Muir Woods now requires reservations if you are coming via car (parking) or shuttle. Reservations are available at GoMuirWoods.com.
Hiking in Muir Woods
There are about 6 miles of trails to Hike in Muir Woods. There are three options ranging from 1/2 an hour to an hour and a 1/2. There is also the ability to jump to extend your hike by jumping onto the trails that extend into Mount Tamalpais State Park. Below is a list of Day Hikes in Muir woods ranging in order from easy to Difficult. More info about hiking in Muir woods can be found on the National Park Service Website. Below are some of the day hikes that are recommended by the National Park Service.
Muir Woods Main Trail
There are three options for the Muir Woods Main Trail. All three variations of the Main Trail begin at the National Parks visitor center and follow the Redwood Creek
Main Trail: Bridge 2 and Back
Level of Difficulty: Easy. Approximate 1/2 Hour in Duration
This trail is along a board walk which makes it wheelchair accessible as well as stroller friendly. It’s a great way to take in the beauty of the Redwoods even if your are not a hiker.
Main Trail: Bridge 3 and Back
Level of Difficulty: Easy. Approximately 1 Hour in Duration
If you are looking for something a bit longer but still easy this is a great trail for you. At just an hour it is enough for you to enjoy the redwoods but you will be back in time for brunch. This is a great trail for families. This trail is also accessible.
Main Trail: Bridge 4 and Back on Hillside Trail
Level of Difficulty: Easy. Approximately 1 1/2 Hours in Duration
Starting at the visitor’s center and following the Redwood Creek continue until you get to Bridge 4. Once you cross the bridge make your way uphill and take a left to jump on the Hillside Trail. From here you will make it back down to Bridge 2. This hike can take up to 2 hours so make sure you have plenty of water and snacks.
Canopy View to Lost Creek to Fern Creek Loop
Level of Difficulty: Moderate. Approximately 2 Hours in Duration
Starting at the visitor’s center make you way into the woods and look for the Canopy View trail which is just after Founder’s Grove. You will climb approximately 1.3 miles to the Lost Trail turnoff. Make a left and make your back down through the forest. The Lost Trail ends at the Fern Creek Trail. Following the Fern Creek trail back down to the main trail.
Fern Creek to Camp Alice Eastwood Loop
Level of Difficulty: Moderate. Approximately 2 Hours in Duration
Look for the trail head for Fern Creek just past Cathedral Grove. Follow the creak for approximately 1/2 mile and take a left over the bridge. Start your climb towards Camp Alice Eastwood. Once you make it up to Camp Alice Eastwood be on the look out for the Plevin Trail which will lead you back to the main trail back down via the Camp Eastwood trail.
Ben Johnson, Return Via Dipsea Loop
Level of Difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous Approximately 3 Hours in Duration
Now we are starting to get into the more challenging hikes. However they are still very doable. This hike also affords great views so definitely well worth it.
From the Main Trail make your way to Bridge 4 and head uphill to the Ben Johnson Trail. You will now begun a steep climb through the redwoods. Turn left at the first junction and following the signs for Muir Woods. You will continue on the trail, crossing the Deer Park Fire Road until you get to the Dipsea Trail. Turn left onto the Dipsea Trail which will take you back to the Muir Woods.
Canopy View to Redwood to Sun Trail to Dipsea Loop
Level of Difficulty: Moderate Approximately 3 Hours in Duration
Starting at the main trail make your way to the Canopy View Trail. Head uphill for about 1.5 miles and turn right onto the Panoramic trail. Be on the lookout as you will only be on this trail for a short time. Keep an eye out for the Redwood Trail and make a right. Continue on the Redwood Trail until it becomes the Sun Trail. Once you reach the Dipsea Trail, turn right and cross Muir Woods Roads. Continue along the roadside trail back to Muir Woods.
Muir Woods to Muir Beach and back
Level of Difficulty: Easy Approximately 4 Hours in Duration
This is a longer hike but it is relatively easy. Unlike the other hikes the trailhead for this hike starts about a half a mile up Muir Woods Road. Make your way back out past the parking lots and up the road until you see the trail to your left. Follow along until you reach Hwy 1 and Muir Woods Road. Continue straight and make a right on to Pacific Way.
If you are looking for a weekend getaway on the west coast which combines a bit of city and hiking then check out our guide to Vancouver B.C.
Other Bay Area Hikes to Consider
If you are looking for some more hikes in the bay area here are some additional hikes to consider
Take a ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and make you way to the Marin Headlands. Spend a few hours and then make your way to Sausalito for food and drinks or make a day of it. The Marin Headlands is a part of the Golden Gate National Parks which gives you miles and miles of hiking trails. If you are not one for hiking drive up to Hawk Hill, park, make your way through the tunnel and you will be rewarded with amazing views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
If you are looking for a bit of a challenge then check out this hike. Located about 2 hours from San Francisco it is a bit further out than most of the other options listed here however it is worth the travel time. Known as the highest summit in the Bay area this is a great way to challenge yourself. If you are not up for the challenge though you can also drive to the summit.
Located in the San Francisco Bay, Angel Island is accessible via Ferry. Once you get to Angel Island take your pick of one of the many hiking trails available. Whether you are looking for history, a challenge or amazing views of the San Francisco this is a great day trip that is easily accessible from San Francisco.
Castle Rock State Park
Castle Rock is great for rock climbers. With 34 miles of trails, there is plenty to discover even for those that are not rock climbers. Put in the work and you will not be disappointed by the amazing views.
A Day trip From San Francisco: Hiking Muir Woods
There is no wonder why Muir Woods is one of the best places to visit in the US. Whether you choose to spend the entire day hiking Muir Woods or split your time between Muir Woods and the Marin Headlands there is plenty to see and do if you are looking for a break outside of the city. Have you been to Muir Woods or the Marin Headlands?
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