The Muir Woods National Monument is a must-see destination on any visit to the San Francisco Bay Area. Home to one of the world's last remaining coastal redwood forests, this protected nature reserve allows travelers to hike, relax, or picnic among these giant Northern California trees for an incredible experience only minutes from the city. The Muir Woods forest forms part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which includes nearby outdoor attractions including Stinson Beach—the park's only lifeguarded beach—and Fort Baker, offering great views of the Golden Gate Bridge from Marin County.
At the park entrance are a gift shop, cafe, and visitors center—follow the raised boardwalk from there, and you'll find yourself at the crossroads of the park's easy and popular hiking trails. Most tours of Muir Woods depart from San Francisco and last between four hours and eight hours, depending on the activities included. Because Muir Woods is north of San Francisco, just across the Golden Gate Bridge, many tours combine a visit here with a Sausalito tour, a San Francisco city tour, a bay cruise, a trip to Alcatraz, or a half- or full-day visit to Napa Valley wine country.
Things to Know Before You Go
- If you're not prepared to look for a parking spot (availability is extremely limited), book a bus tour or a private tour that includes San Francisco hotel pickup and roundtrip transportation.
- Walking tours and bike tours are among the most popular ways to see the area.
- The park has many accessible features, with boardwalk platforms throughout.
- Even the easiest hikes can stir up an appetite—stave off the hunger by booking a tour that offers a gourmet lunch in Sonoma County.
How To Get to Muir Woods
Muir Woods is located just 12 miles (19 km) north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge, making it an easy day trip from the city. It's possible to arrive by public transit, but the easiest way is by organized tour. If coming by car, drive north on Highway 101 and continue north on a short drive along Highway 1 (Shoreline Highway). Then take the Panoramic Highway, a right-hand fork. Continue about one mile (1.5 km) to Four Corners, where you'll turn left onto Muir Woods Road.
When to Get There
Muir Woods is open from 8am to sunset during summer and closes at 5pm in winter. The site can become quite crowded, especially on weekends, so try to come midweek, early in the morning, or late in the afternoon to beat the crowds. Even at busy times, a short hike will get you out of the densest crowds and onto trails with giant redwoods and stunning vistas.