Experience the bigger picture and see and appreciate the diverse biosphere surrounding Mount Tamalpais. The Muir Woods National Monument is a world renowned gem tucked down along the Redwood Creek.
Muir Woods is a National Monument that charges $15 to access (unless you have a NP Annual Pass), even if you are on foot (additional charges for parking at the Muir Woods Parking area, which is where this loop has you start). Do this loop counterclockwise to avoid this issue (you'll be coming in the back of the park and exiting at the visitor center). Parking is available at turn-offs along the Panoramic Hwy, that'll allow you to access the trail without paying.
This part of California can be poison oak country. Be sure to know what to look for. Poison Oak can be quite irritating to those who are allergic.
Amble among the giants of old and experience the cool air associated with a redwood stand. The first portion of this journey takes visitors along the Redwood Creek Trail
. This stretch will have you constantly stepping back to try to crane your head upward in an effort take in the views of the beautiful Redwoods that line the path. Fortunately for you, the trail and boardwalk below your feet are wide and flat enough that you can do this without worrying about tripping.
Once you get on to the Fern Creek Trail
you'll leave the most heavily traveled area. This gradual rise follows the Fern Creek and, as its name suggests, is full of beautiful ferns. You'll notice how the trees, shrubs and landscape change quickly as you leave the valley floor. Once you reach the Lost Trail
take a little break, as a serious climb is about to begin.
There will be numerous places where the slope is steep, but do your best to stop and look down from time to time. The redwoods will disappear and above, the landscape will start to clear. Chaparral, meadows and mountain tops will appear. Once you get to the Canopy View Trail
go left until you join up with the Panoramic Trail
. Here you'll parallel the Panoramic Highway heading south.
Soon you'll come to the Redwood Trail
, take the right. As you continue on into the woods you'll arrive at the Tourist Club. This is a private hiking club and they host special events during the year that are open to the public. Be sure to look into this ahead of time, as the programming is informative and enjoyable. Passing through the Tourist Club property you'll come out to the Sun Trail
Th along the ridge line follows the contours of Mt. Tamalpais and eventually you'll cross the street that leads down to the Muir Woods National Monument. Look for the Dipsea Trail
and head right. This will take you back into the overflow parking lot of the parking area where you began your journey. As a fun aside, the Dipsea Trail
is the namesake of the world famous Dipsea Run, the oldest annually held running event in the United States.
Muir Woods National Monument is the only old growth redwood forest located in close proximity to such a large urban area in the world, and is named after famous naturalist, explorer, and Sierra Club founder, John Muir.