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Main Trail - Muir Woods NM, CA

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Guide 6 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > Bay Area
4.8 of 5 by 4
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 0.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 142 feet
Elevation Gain 66 feet
Accumulated Gain 66 feet
Avg Time One Way 0.5 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 1.12
Interest Historic & Perennial Creek
Backpack Connecting Only
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
1  2017-05-07
Main Trail - Hillside Trail Loop
11  2016-10-13 fricknaley
Author hippiepunkpirate
author avatar Guides 25
Routes 36
Photos 2,877
Trips 657 map ( 2,276 miles )
Age 33 Male Gender
Location Peoria, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Nov, May → 8 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:54am - 6:15pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Heart of the Muir Woods
by hippiepunkpirate


Muir Woods National Monument preserves one of last pristine stands of Coastal Redwood forest remaining along the Northern California Coast. The Monument itself was created in 1908 when the property was donated to the federal government by U.S. Congressman William Kent in order to prevent development of this special place. When declaring the Monument, President Theodore Roosevelt wanted to name it after William Kent. However, Kent insisted the park bear the name of famous American naturalist John Muir.


Muir Woods is a rather small park (but contains some BIG trees!). It's trail system officially contains 6 trails, but many connect with a larger trail system in the adjacent Mount Tamalpais State Park. The centerpiece of Muir Woods is the Main Trail, a flat boardwalk style trail winding through the park's most impressive groves, allowing easy access to approximately 1 million visitors per year. As such, this trail is often crowded on warm days, especially on weekends.

The trail is officially a 2 mile multi-loop, with the different legs separated by Redwood Creek and connected by a series of wooden footbridges that span the creek. Copious interpretive signage is provided along the trail, explaining about the unique ecosystem of the Coastal Redwood forest. A "self-guided" tour is available at the Visitor Center by purchasing a pamphlet for $1 and following along on the numbered signs along the trail. Along the trail, adjacent to the Gifford Pinchot tree (one of the largest Redwoods in the park), is an open area where park rangers can often be found giving talks for visitors. The two most impressive Redwood stands are the Bohemian Grove and the Cathedral Grove, both of which are well marked on trailside maps.

Connection Options: While a simple walk on the Main Trail is likely perfect for most park visitors (aka: non-hikers), an avid hiker visiting the park will likely have a thirst for MORE. The most popular extension off the Main Trail is to make the loop hike a hair more interesting a difficult with no extra distance by adding a jaunt on the Hillside Trail, a pleasant dirt footpath that parallels the main boardwalk a little ways up on the nearby slopes. Longer loops or out and back hikes can be achieved of almost any desired distance. The Dispea, Ocean View, Fern Creek, and Camp Eastwood Trails all split off from the Main Trail and connect with trails within the nearby Mount Tamalpais State Park. These spur trails also run through some nice stretches of Redwoods (giant Coastal Douglas Fir can also be found nearby). The Main Trail is of course the must do part of the park, but a fit hiker could be out in the Muir Woods all day exploring miles of pristine Pacific Coast trails.

Crowd Control: Muir Woods National Monument is one of the top tourism attractions in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as being a convenient local escape for city dwellers. Parking lots fill up early on sunny days, but overlow parking is available along the Muir Woods Road downhill from the park entrance. However, arriving mid-day on a busy day may result in a complete parking nightmare. It's recommended to go early (arriving 9am or earlier), or late (two hours before sundown) if parking may be a concern. Muir Woods NM closes at sundown every day.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2015-02-18 hippiepunkpirate

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Main Trail - Muir Woods NM
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Main Trail - Hillside Trail Loop
    As mentioned on the page description, parking was difficult. We lucked out and got a spot by the visitor center. Plenty of tourists, but even so, Muir Woods was beautiful to walk through. The main trail follows a small creek, with plenty of giant Redwood trees throughout the hike. It is truly awe-inspiring and I would love to hike through a more natural giant redwood area rather than boardwalks and well manicured large trails. I will have to go back when I'm in the area for a longer hike.
    Main Trail - Muir Woods NM
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    we did a bunch of the main trail, then went up the canopy view trail to panoramic. short stretch on that to the redwoods/sun trails (which are awesome) then back down on the dipsea. this is a very nice loop with combo of the old growth redwoods in the busy main part of the monument then higher elevation trails with big open views and waaaay less people :)
    Main Trail - Muir Woods NM
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Muir Woods - Main/Fern Creek/Ocean View Loop
    Left the womenfolk in San Francisco and headed up to the Muir Woods for gentlemen-only hike through the Redwoods. The crew was myself, Dustin, Devin, Marius, and Mike (first time hiker!) The NPS website wasn't kidding...parking fills up early on weekends. Arrived about 9:00am and all the lots were full, had to park about half a mile down Muir Woods Road. Took a look through the VC and then some of the guys grabbed a pastry from the snack bar before heading up the Main Trail. I've seen the Redwoods once before, a couple years ago driving through in Humbolt County. This was my first real up close and personal experience with them. They are effing tall. Beautiful trees. A ranger was giving a talk at the Pinchot Tree, so we stopped to listen for a couple minutes. Passed through the Cathedral Grove, it was heaven on earth. Hung a right on the Fern Creek Trail, leaving the boardwalk and passing onto a nice dirt singletrack. There were still other hikers about, but far less of them. Yet we were still mingling with the Redwoods. Passed the Kent Tree, named for William Kent (supposedly his favorite tree), a now deceased giant Coastal Doug Fir now laying on its side. Took a drink from Fern Creek, some of the best water I've ever tasted. The trail started climbing faster, and we climbed up into the Redwood canopy and then out of the Redwoods altogether. Passed a couple semi-confusing trail junctions but made it to our turn-around point at the Panoramic Highway featuring distant views of the Pacific Ocean! Had cell service and called my wife to make rendezvous plans for later. Returned via the "Ocean View Trail", which is sometimes signed "Canopy View Trail" (like I said...semi-confusing). Hung around the VC a while and enjoyed the pleasantries while waiting for the womenfolk to arrive. They never showed so Devin and I walked down the road until we got cell service. Turns out our WAGS were taking their time and hadn't left the city yet. They weren't going to find parking down here anyway so we got the rest of the guys and headed out, meeting the girls for lunch in Sausalito. Trip distance includes walking up and down the road.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From San Francisco, drive north over the Golden Gate Bridge (Hwy 101). Take Exit 445B onto Hwy 1 (signed Muir Woods). Turn left onto Shoreline Hwy (stays Hwy 1). Drive up the switchback ridden hill and turn right at Panoramic Hwy (signed Muir Woods). Turn left onto Muir Woods Rd (also signed Muir Woods). Park entrance with parking lots is just down the hill.
    page created by hippiepunkpirate on Feb 18 2015 1:16 pm
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