If you’re looking for a beautiful nature hike close to San Francisco, look no further than Muir Woods. This guide will give you everything you need to know. To have a great time hiking in Muir Woods, from the best time of year to go to what to bring with you.
For good reason, Muir Woods is one of the most popular national parks in the United States. The park is home to some of the tallest trees in the world. It’s a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, there’s a trail for you in Muir Woods.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your water bottle and your comfortable shoes and head on over to Muir Woods!
The Best Time to Hike in Muir Woods
The Busiest Times of the Year
During the busiest times to go hiking at Muir Woods, the most popular months for visitors are June through August. However, if you want to avoid the crowds, you’d be better off visiting during the spring and fall.
The Ideal Time to Go
While the climate in Muir Woods is generally mild year-around. The best times for hiking are usually in the spring or fall. Since then, there are less people, and the temperatures are cooler.
What to Bring on Your Hike in Muir Woods
Snacks and Water
Bringing water and snacks is a must on any hike. But especially when hike in Muir Woods where there are no water fountains or food options. At least 1 liter of water per person is recommended. And it’s always a good idea to have more than you think you’ll need. Pack some high-energy snacks like granola bars or trail mix to keep your energy up during the hike.
Wearing comfortable shoes is the key to enjoying any hike. Make sure to wear shoes that are broken in and provide good support. Hiking boots are not necessary but closed-toe shoes with good tread are essential. Avoid wearing sandals or flip-flops, as they will not provide enough support or protection from the elements.
Layering your clothing is always a good idea when hiking. As the weather can change quickly in woods like Muir Woods. Wear a base layer of light, breathable fabric to wick away sweat. Add a middle layer for warmth, such as a fleece jacket or long-sleeved shirt. Top it off with a waterproof outer layer in case of rain or windy conditions.
How to Get to Muir Woods
The Muir Woods National Monument is located just 12 miles north of San Francisco in Marin County, and is easily accessible by car. From the Golden Gate Bridge, take Highway 101 north for about 10 minutes, then exit onto Highway 1/Stinson Beach Road. Follow this road for about 2 miles until you reach the Muir Woods entrance. There is a large parking lot at the monument, but it can fill up quickly on weekends and holidays, so arrive early if possible.
By Public Transportation
Muir Woods is also accessible by public transportation from San Francisco. Take the Golden Gate Transit bus #70 or #71 from the Financial District to the Mill Valley stop, then transfer to the Muir Woods Shuttle ($3 round trip). The shuttle runs every 20–30 minutes on weekdays and every 30–60 minutes on weekends, and it takes about 15 minutes to reach Muir Woods.
The Different Trails in Muir Woods
The Sun Trail
This is the shortest of the main trails in Muir Woods, but it is also one of the steepest and most challenging. The trail climbs over 400 feet in just 1 mile up to a ridgeline at the top of Mt. Tamalpais. Although this trail does not lead to a lookout point, it offers great views from the ridgeline, including Mt. Tamalpais and San Francisco on a clear day.
The Sun Trail is not recommended for non-experienced hikers or even experienced hikers who find very steep hills difficult to climb. It takes experienced hikers only about 30–40 minutes to reach the top of Mt. Tamalpais and climbing back down can be a bit more challenging.
The Redwood Creek Trail
The Redwood Creek Trail is a 1-mile loop that takes about 45 minutes to complete. This trail is steeper than the Sun Trail, but it is still considered easy. The trail offers beautiful views of the creek and the redwoods. There are also several bridges along the way, which make for a fun hike for kids.
The Redwood Creek Trail is usually pretty crowded, especially during the summer months. This trail is best for hikers who want to get a quick workout during their visit to Muir Woods. A few points of interest along the Redwood Creek Trail include the “Mill” and the “Burnt Mill,” which are remnants from the lumber era. There is also a beautiful waterfall, known as Redwood Creek Falls, along this trail.
The Dipsea Trail
The Dipsea trail is a 7.4-mile-long loop that takes about 2.5 hours to complete. This trail is challenging but has some relatively flat sections as well. The trail climbs towards the peak of Mt. Tamalpais and offers amazing views from the top, with San Francisco in the distance on a clear day.
This trail can be accessed from either the Muir Woods Visitor Center or from the opposite side of Mt. Tamalpais at Tennessee Valley (see image). This Dipsea trail continues on from there and features many beautiful waterfalls, including Upper Tamalpais Falls.
The trail is best for hikers who want a full day in the forest. The steep inclines of this trail can be exhausting after a few miles, and non-experienced hikers would not be able to complete all of the loop without stopping many times to catch their breath.
It is the longest and most difficult trail in Muir Woods. This trail has steep sections and can be muddy after it rains, so it’s not recommended for beginners or young children. However, if you’re up for a challenge, the Dipsea Trail offers stunning views of Muir Woods and the Pacific Ocean from its highest point, Mount Tamalpais State Park.
If you’re looking to explore one of the most beautiful natural places in California, Muir Woods is a great option. This guide will teach you everything you need to know to make the most of your hike, including when to go, what to bring, and which trails to explore. With this information, you’ll be able to have a safe and enjoyable experience that will leave you wanting to come back for more.
This article contains affiliate links. If you buy through these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Check the disclaimer and learn more about us.
Arthur Lewis is a hardcore hiker, traveler, and adventure seeker. He is a blogger and writer for “Hiking Mystery,” and he lives in New York City with his pet dog, Chipi.
He is very fond of the outdoors and has visited many countries, including Iceland, Portugal, Brazil, and Costa Rica. He also loves to explore nature by means of hiking, cycling, and kayaking. He is an expert on travel, and he helps other people find the best way to travel by providing information about their options.