The Easiest Muir Woods Half Day Hiking Itinerary (2024)

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Want to know the easiest Muir Woods half day hiking itinerary? We’ve got you covered with everything we know from our visit here!

Did you know that just 10 miles outside of San Francisco is a National Monument with miles of hiking trails?

Muir Woods National Monument is the perfect place to go for an outdoorsy day to get away from the city.

We’re going to share with you everything you need to know before you visit.

You can see our full experience at Muir Woods in this video on our YouTube Channel.

Muir Woods National Monument Trail Loop

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The Easiest Muir Woods Half Day Hiking Itinerary

The first thing you need to know about visiting Muir Woods is that you have to plan ahead.

Reservations are required for parking and you can get all of those details at GoMuirWoods.com.

Muir Woods Loop Trail

➡ Muir Woods Reservations and Parking

You’ll want to save a screenshot of your parking voucher since there is no cell phone or internet service inside the park.

The most recent fees for parking reservations, as of 2024 are:

  • $9.50 Standard Vehicle
  • $30.00 Medium Vehicle
  • $45.00 Large Vehicle

We brought a Compact SUV (Ford Escape) and paid $9 for the standard vehicle fee, which has gone up 50 cents since we visited.

I’m not sure how large a vehicle has to be to be considered medium or large.

My best guess would be that if your vehicle cannot fit in a regular sized parking spot, you’ll probably have to pay the upcharge.

Park hours change based on the season and you’ll be able to see them when you go to make your reservation since you’ll have to pick an arrival time.

The Visitor Center opens at 8 am daily and will stay open until 30 minutes before the park closes.

The cafe recently underwent a remodel and is open now from 9 am to one hour before the park closes.

The Trading Post, where you can get souvenirs and gear, follows the same hours.

Muir Woods National Monument Entrance

➡ Muir Woods Shuttles

Another option, if you’re visiting on the weekend is the shuttle service.

The shuttles only operate from mid-March through October on the weekends and holidays and require reservations as well.

From June through August there are some select weekdays that the shuttle will be operating as well.

Bikes and pets are not allowed, but the shuttles can accommodate 2 wheelchairs each.

Service animals are allowed by law.

The shuttle picks up at an off-site location: 100 Shoreline Hwy, Mill Valley, CA 94941.

When you make a shuttle reservation, you’ll have to choose a specific departure time.

Parking at the shuttle pick up is free.

The shuttle reservation will cost $3.75 per person 16+ and is free for anyone 15 and younger.

The last shuttles of the day leaving the park fill up pretty quickly, so try to plan to leave a little earlier.

Muir Woods National Monument plants

➡ Muir Woods Entrance Fee

In addition to the parking reservation, there is also an entrance fee for Muir Woods.

You can pay in advance at the website listed above.

If you have the National Park Annual Pass, that will cover your admission fee.

There are a handful of other passes that cover the admission fee too, so check the website above before you go!

Currently, the park entrance fee is $15 per person ages 16+ and free for any person 15 years old and younger.

➡ Getting To Muir Woods From San Francisco

From the city, you’ll drive north on Highway 101, across the Golden Gate Bridge.

By the way, when you drive South back across the Golden Gate Bridge, there is a toll.

It gets mailed to you and I want to say it’s maybe $5 or so each time you pass through the toll going southbound on the Golden Gate Bridge.

From the Golden Gate Bridge, the entrance to Muir Woods is about an 11 mile drive.

But it will take about 20-25 minutes because it’s a long, winding road.

It may even take a little longer if there is traffic in town or a backup getting parked.

When you choose your parking reservation, you choose a 30 minute window, so keep that in mind when planning your itinerary!

If all the planning sounds like too much work on vacation, you can always book a tour instead!

This small group half day tour takes you to Muir Woods and into Sausalito, the town just outside of the park.

? Click Here To Book Your Muir Woods And Sausalito Half Day Small Group Tour Today!

Muir Woods Easy Hiking Trails

Once you get to Muir Woods, there is one trail leading in and you can take it out and back, or loop around.

Along the way, there are multiple trails that veer off in different directions, but they all meet back up onto this main trail.

The image below might help illustrate this better.

Muir Woods National Monument San Francisco - map of hiking trails

The dark gray area is Muir Woods National Monument.

So ignore everything outside of the dark gray.

Inside the dark gray, you’ll see a black square that says Muir Woods Visitor Center.

This is where you’ll start and end your day.

This is where the parking lot is, where you pay your entrance fee, and there’s a cafe and gift shop.

From there, you can see a loop of black dots outlined in white.

That trail is the main trail that you can take out and back, or loop around.

As you can see, there are several trails that go off from this main trail.

The top of the photo cuts out those trails, but they all circle back to this main trail eventually.

plaque at Muir Woods National Monument

If you’re with kids, not super active, or just looking to spend an hour or two, just take the main loop trail.

If you’ve got more time, you’re looking for a challenge, or just want to try something new, try some of these other trails as you come across them.

fallen tree at Muir Woods National Monument

Everything is very well marked on the trail with maps and signage, so it would be hard to get lost!

That’s all there is to it!

sun peeking through the trail at Muir Woods National Monument

Make sure to watch the YouTube video at the top of this post to get a better idea of the layout and what you’ll see and experience while you’re exploring Muir Woods.


Where to Stay in San Francisco

On our recent visit, we spent 7 nights at Club Quarters San Francisco, which is located in the financial district.

You can see a full walk-through of our King Room in this video on our YouTube Channel.

You can get a complete look at our experience at this hotel by clicking through the link above.

Click Here To Book Your Stay At Club Quarters San Francisco Today!


More Fun Things To Do In And Around San Francisco

San Francisco and it’s surrounding areas have plenty to do for all interests.

These are our most recommended things to do.

Alcatraz Island Night Time Prison Tour

The Alcatraz Island night tour is iconic.

It’s honestly the best way to see and experience the prison.

You’ll have a self guided tour through common areas of the prison, ranger talks with experts on Alcatraz, and you’ll get to see some areas generally closed to the public.

Alcatraz Island

The Walt Disney Family Museum

Did you even know there’s a Disney museum in San Francisco?

It’s in a beautiful area of The Presidio with the most picture perfect views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The museum goes through Walt Disney’s childhood, animation years, Disneyland years, his family life, and his lasting legacy.

The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco

Best Attractions To Visit In San Francisco

For an all-inclusive list of all of San Francisco’s best attractions, this blog post covers it all.

San Francisco in December

Best Weekend Trips From San Francisco

Whether you’re looking for a 2, 4, or 7 hour drive to get out of the city for the weekends, there are nearly endless destinations for a weekend getaway.

Carmel-By-The-Sea

Napa v Sonoma: Which Is Better To Visit?

Sonoma and Napa make for a wonderful wine tasting trip.

They have castles, a historic downtown, and other beautifully designed wineries.

Ledson Winery in Sonoma

Best Things To Do In Calistoga

Believe it or not, there is more than just wine tasting in Calistoga!

The historic downtown area has shops and restaurants and there’s even more to do outside of town.

pizza restaurant in historic downtown Calistoga

Napa Valley Wine Tasting Day Trip

Napa has some wonderful wineries and some of the most high profile wineries.

It’s also nearby Yountville, which is home to The French Laundry, the number one restaurant in America.

Welcome To Napa Valley Sign

California’s Great America Theme Park

Great America is about an hour south of San Francisco in Santa Clara.

It’s part of the Cedar Fair family of amusement parks like Cedar Point, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Kings Island.

California's Great America Theme Park in December

Where To Eat In And Around San Francisco

San Francisco has world-class food from their clam chowder, Chinese food in Chinatown, and some of the best Italian food on Columbus Ave.

The Complete San Francisco Food and Drink Guide

We tried all the best (and hidden gem) restaurants in San Francisco and these are our favorites that we consider a must when visiting San Francisco.

Mona Lisa in San Francisco - plate of Bolognese

Best Restaurants In San Francisco With A View

Want to have a nice view of the Golden Gate Bridge while enjoying brunch?

Or how about rooftop views of the city?

These are all the best restaurants where you can enjoy an amazing view.

Fisherman's Wharf at Pier 39 in San Francisco

Conclusion: The Easiest Muir Woods Half Day Hiking Itinerary

Taking a day trip out to Muir Woods National Monument for the easiest half day hike is such a great way to get out of the city for awhile.

The walking trail is short enough for just about anybody to be able to enjoy without it feeling like a strenuous hike!

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Muir Woods National Monument San Francisco California