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Muir Woods is a popular day trip from San Francisco and for good reason. It is a nature lover’s dream with its giant Redwood trees and lush hiking trails! You can spot interesting trees, vegetation, and even the occasional deer! This article will tell you all you need to know about Muir Woods, from reservations to hiking!
Muir Woods National Monument, located in Marin County, California and is a federally protected forested park. The park is named after conservationist John Muir, who established several national parks and nature reserves in the United States.
The park covers 554 acres and is home to some of the oldest and tallest trees in the world! The coastal redwoods are among the tallest trees in the world, with some reaching heights of over 350 feet. These trees can live for over 1,000 years, and many of the trees in Muir Woods are over 600 years old!
When to Visit and is it Worth it?
Muir woods is worth visiting for anyone who loves nature and is an excellent escape from the bustle of the city. Containing trails of varying difficulties, it is perfect for everyone, from families who want a casual stroll to serious hikers. The peaceful atmosphere and stunning scenery transport you to a different world. The park is well-maintained and easy to navigate, and the redwoods will leave you in awe.
You can visit Muir Woods year-round, but I recommend going in the Spring or Summer when the weather is warm. However, Summer crowds can get crazy, so plan your trip early in the morning! Do not discount the Fall or Winter either. Being one of the warmer cities in the US, you can get lucky with a good weather day even in the Winter! I went in January and did not regret it at all.
Muir Woods reservations are simple! Head to the main website and choose the date and time you want to visit. The entrance ticket to the park does not need to be bought in advance, but the parking or shuttle reservation does.
The park is open 365 days a year but may close due to inclement weather. The park hours vary depending on the time of year, but hours are usually from 8:00 AM to approximately 30 minutes before sunset.
Note: It may feel tempting to have a car service such as Uber take you to Muir Woods so you can avoid the parking reservation, but this is a bad idea because there is no cell reception at the park. You could get there but could not book the ride service to take you back.
Parking and Shuttle Information
Muir Woods has minimal parking, so reservations are required. I recommend booking at least a week in advance! It would be best to arrive within your 30-minute reservation window, or you will be denied entry. They are very strict on this! The parking reservation is $9.00 per most vehicles (with a higher cost for larger vehicles), and the entrance fee to the park is $15 per person.
An alternative to taking a car is booking the Muir Woods round-trip shuttle service for $3.50 per adult, with children younger than 15 riding for free. It runs from around 9 AM to 6 PM from Larkspur Landing, also known as the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, to Muir Woods.
The shuttle generally only runs on weekends and holidays, except during the summer months when it runs every day. You must select a shuttle reservation time for your arrival at Muir Woods. However, there are no reservations for departing shuttles. It is first come first serve. Seating is limited and fills up quickly, so I do not recommend leaving on the last shuttle of the day.
Muir Woods Hiking
Muir Woods has multiple hiking trails for every fitness and skill level. Don’t forget to pack these essentials before your trip! Here are my favorite Muir Woods routes in order of difficulty:
Easy: Muir Woods Main Trail
The Muir Woods Main Trail, or the Redwood Creek Trail, starts at the Visitor’s Center and follows the pavement and boardwalk into the woods. This trail is where you will see most visitors going.
It is an excellent option for those wanting to experience the beauty of the redwood forest without too much strenuous hiking. The trail is relatively flat, easy, and accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.
There are four bridges on this trail. You can shorten or lengthen your stroll by choosing which bridge to turn around from and head back. I recommend crossing bridge three, where you will see Bohemian Grove. This loop should take about an hour in total.
Moderate: The Canopy View Trail Loop
Located to the right after passing the gift shop, the Canopy View Trail Loop is a 3.5-mile loop trail in Muir Woods that allows visitors to explore the forest canopy. It takes approximately 2 hours to complete and has breathtaking views. The route is accessible to visitors of all ages and skill levels but is more complex than the main trail.
You head 1.5 miles along on the trail until you reach the Lost Trail on your left. However, instead of turning onto the Lost Trail, continue until you reach the lookout. This Canopy View platform is the trail’s highlight, offering stunning views of the surrounding forest and the valley below!
Afterward, you can return to the Lost Trail and take it down to the main trail and the Visitor’s Center. This loop is my favorite hike in Muir Woods and the one I recommend to all my friends.
Hard: Dipsea Trail
If you have a lot of time, I recommend taking the Dipsea trail. The Dipsea Trail is a more challenging hike, but the views are worth it! It is a 10-mile out-and-back trek that takes approximately 6 hours to complete.
Starting at the Muir Woods Visitor Center, follow the path up through the forest. Use the visitor’s map to guide you towards Dipsea. You will encounter stairs, streams, and lush forest vegetation as you make your way through this gorgeous trail.
The climb can be muddy and quite steep in some parts, but you should be okay with good hiking boots and a moderate fitness level. Make sure to pack lots of food and water! Keep following the signs toward Stinson Beach. Eventually, you will see gorgeous Pacific views while smelling the salty sea air. From there, you can stay at the beach and eat lunch before heading back on the trail.
Overall, Muir Woods is a fun getaway from the hustle of San Francisco, and it offers beautiful nature views to people of all fitness levels. Now you have everything you need to know about Muir Woods reservations and hiking for your next adventure!