Our top 3 favorite Muir Woods Hikes!
There are several options for Muir Hikes – for all experience levels, this is our guide to the best 3 hikes that you have to take!
Background on Muir Woods
North of San Francisco, just past the Golden Gate Bridge, is Mount Tamalapais. This Northern California mountain is flanked by the Pacific Ocean to the west, San Francisco Bay to the east and the Marin Headlands to the south.
Here, hidden in a valley, is Muir Woods National Monument.
This ancient grove of redwoods contains some of the tallest trees in the world. So it’s the perfect place for a hike beneath the canopy of old growth coastal redwoods near San Francisco!
Optional Muir Woods Hike – Take a Tour!
Discovering 2,000 year old redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument is the highlight of many people visiting San Francisco. The problem is that over the past few years they have made hard to visit Muir Woods on your own. This includes having to book park spots ahead of time or taking a costly uber / shuttle up to Muir Woods.
If you plan ahead this can be okay, however, a tour guide can offer a much more robust experience.
Our “Famous” San Francisco and Muir Woods tour makes stops at Muir Woods and Sausalito for about an hour each.
Our A Day in the Bay Tour, with Muir Woods, Alcatraz, and San Francisco, stops for closer to an hour and a half in Sausalito and Muir Woods, to give you enough time to enjoy some sights and hiking.
Even our direct Muir Woods shuttle offers an hour to adventure around the redwoods of Muir Woods!
For the more adventurous, you can try the Bike the Golden Gate Bridge tour which includes a bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and a shuttle bus ride to Muir Woods!
If you’re on a San Francisco tour to Muir Woods, or just don’t have a lot of time to spend in the redwoods, you may be wondering what hikes you can take in a short amount of time. Happily, there are plenty of options for Muir Woods hikes that you can do in less than an hour!
No matter if you’re getting to Muir Woods from a San Francisco bus tour, a Muir Woods shuttle, a Muir Woods tour bus, or driving on your own and reserving a parking spot in advance, you’ll want to be sure to check out our three favorite trails for hiking Muir Woods in under an hour.
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All trails running through the Muir Woods redwoods forest (and some of the best Mt Tam hikes) begin along a wooden boardwalk.
After you pay the $15 Muir Woods entrance fee (anyone 15 or younger gets free Muir Woods admission!), head into the park along this trail and check in at the Muir Woods Visitor Center.
The first fork in the road will be at Bridge 1, at the very beginning on the main trail. All three trails, end back at Bridge 1.
Note: if you’re looking for a good Muir Woods Trail Map – you can find one here. It’s the official Muir Woods map of the US National Park Service, so you can rest assured that it’s accurate, and includes all the different Muir Woods trails you could tackle.
Muir Woods Hike #1: Bridge 3 Loop
About 45 minutes, no incline
If you’re looking for one of the most popular Muir Woods hiking trails to explore the San Francisco redwoods while on a Muir Woods tour – look no further than the Bridge 3 loop hike!
Most San Francisco tours that stop in Muir Woods, usually visit for about an hour, which makes this the most ideal trail for hiking Muir Woods without rushing.
The Bridge 3 Loop is perfect for anyone who:
- wants to explore for a decent amount of time
- does not want to trek up the mountain at all
- wants to save time for a bathroom break — or a cup of coffee or tea from the cafe
- does not plan on visiting the gift shop
How to hike Muir Woods Bridge 3 Loop:
After you’ve paid your Muir Woods fee, head along the wooden boardwalk for about 10 minutes until you see Bridge 3 running across the creek.
Once you’ve crossed Bridge 3, walk along the dirt path back to Bridge 1. Keep an eye out for the hollowed-out redwood along this trail — it’s a perfect photo op!
Muir Woods Hike #2: Bridge 2 Loop
About 20-30 minutes, no incline
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The shortest trail to hike in Muir Woods!
This gentle Muir Woods hike loops around the same dirt path as the Bridge Three, so be sure to keep an eye out for the hollowed-out redwood for photos!
The Bridge 2 Loop is perfect for anyone who:
- wants to do a bit of a Muir Woods hike, but also wants to see redwood products available at the gift store
- got caught waiting in line at the cafe for the Marin Melt (it’s an incredible grilled cheese sandwich made with bread from a local bakery and THREE different local kinds of cheese that was featured on Food Network’s “The Best Food I Ever Ate” – aka it’s one of the best foodie things to do in Muir Woods.)
- might have some mobility issues — this trail is flat, with the exception of roots along the short dirt path
- wants to take their time hiking in Muir Woods
- doesn’t want to deal with the ever changing Muir Woods weather (if it’s a particularly freezing day especially).
How to hike Muir Woods Bridge 2 Loop:
Bridge 2 is just a few minutes into the main trail.
Be sure to peek into the creek as you cross the bridge — sometimes there are Rainbow Trout! From there, you’ll take the dirt path that quickly loops back to Bridge 1, at the entrance of Muir Woods.
Muir Woods Hike #3: Bridge Four Loop
About 1 hour, incline up Mt. Tam
The longest and most adventurous trail to hike Muir Woods in an hour (and, in our opinion, one of the best hikes in Muir Woods in general).
We hesitantly suggest the Bridge Four Loop since it usually takes exactly an hour — if you’re hustling!
The Bridge Four Loop is perfect for anyone who:
- is ready for a serious hike — this trail goes up a bit of Mt. Tam
- wants the entire hour for a Muir Woods hike and to experience one of the best trails in Muir Woods
- doesn’t plan on stopping at gift shop or cafe
How to Hike Muir Woods Bridge 4 Loop:
From the main trail, cruise along the wooden path until you reach Bridge 4. Once you cross the bridge, you’ll head up the mountain.
The views climbing up look down into the redwood groves! The trail brings you back down on the same dirt trail that leads to Bridge 1.
Note: if you want to plan your own itinerary, or do a mixture of these hikes, don’t forget to take a look at the official Muir Woods hiking map for more ideas. You can find it here.
For instance, if you have more time than just an hour or two, although there isn’t a Muir Woods ocean view trail, you could expand your day to include one of the best Mt Tam hikes down to Stinson Beach for some coastal views.
You can find the larger Mount Tamalpais trail map here (which includes Muir Woods in its borders), as well as additional info about the state park.
Ready to plan your Muir Woods Hike? Our Muir Woods Tour from San Francisco is a great option!
Or, you can opt to just take our direct shuttle from San Francisco to Muir Woods without the full tour!