Head off for the DipSea and Coast View Trails in Mt. Tam State Park. Wander through the upper reaches of redwoods in Muir Woods. Take multiple bridges across Redwood Creek. Enjoy open vistas on a stretch of trail between Stinson Beach and Muir Beach at 1,000+ feet above the Pacific Coast. This trail has a bit of everything in only a handful of miles.
Our trail starts out at 450 ft elevation on Highway 1 just north of Muir Beach. We head up a little spur from the highway to the junction of the Coastal View trail and the Heather Cut-off, where we take the Heather Cut-Off trail - a short trail covering about only 0.3 miles as the crow flies with 1.2 miles of switchbacked trail - with 24 Switchbacks and a couple S-turns, bringing us nearly down to sea-level.
This will take us to the Redwood Creek Trail (a portion of which we take on the Dias Ridge hike), heading approx 1.5 miles up Redwood Creek (north east) nearly to the entrance to Muir Woods. The trail ends at the 'start' of Deer Park Fire Road. Deer Park Fire Road brings us to the DipSea Trail, where together they make up part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail system. Over a stretch, this trail provides a steady, 2 mile, 1,100 foot ascent along the south-west border of Muir Woods.
Nearly at the crest of the DipSea trail, we branch right as we first drop 120 feet in to the back reaches of Muir Woods along the Ben Johnson trail, then left for a 550 foot climb up the Stapleveldt trail bringing us up to the Pantoll Ranger Station and Campground (1,499 foot elevation) where we will break for lunch.
After lunch, leaving Pantoll Station, we initially head south along the Old Mine Trail. A short half mile will take us to the Coast View trail where we will wander along some 1,200 feet above the Pacific Coast for a few miles, with the Pacific Coast Highway far below. If the weather is storm free, winter usually provides clear fog-free days, so be prepared for spectacular coastal views. The trail slowly drops down over the course of about 2.5 miles, slowly approaching the coast and our starting point at highway 1.
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After the hike, you might consider dropping in at the Pelican Inn for a glass of wine or a draught of cold beer – though parking may be very very tight for the lot of us. If things are dry, we will be able to sit on their lawn, where we will be able to pass around any post hike snacks while we enjoy our libations. One may need to park at the Muir Beach parking lot and stroll the quarter mile back to the Pelican.
Directions to the Pantoll Ranger Station:
From Hwy 101 take the Mill Valley/Stinson Beach/Hwy 1 exit and continue straight for one mile to a stoplight at Shoreline Hwy (Hwy 1). Turn left on Shoreline and head to Muir Beach - but do not stop at Muir Beach. About 1/4 mile up from Muir Beach and the Pelican Inn, you will see Muir Woods Road. Set your odometer here, and drive 1.5 miles further up Highway 1. On this, you will drive up a steep grade, and should notice Muir Beach Overlook (bathrooms here, but this IS NOT the trailhead). Still on Highway 1, at the 1.5 mile mark from Muir Woods Road, you will see a large dirt pull-out on the left side of the road (there is an emergency call box there). This is parking for our trailhead.
PLEASE CARPOOL. Be prepared to drive, though we hope to squeeze into as few cars as possible. If you are lucky enough to be a rider, make sure you have a least $5-$8 for your driver depending on number of carpoolers in your car and how far you've come.
We combine enjoyment of the trail with respect for everyone’s time. A steady pace and we just keep going! Please note that if you are a fast hiker you may end up waiting a bit depending on the mix of the crowd. If you are slow you will find that as soon as you are in close visual sight we continue on. This is how we respect everyone's time. Also we do ask that if you are having a hard time keeping up with the group that you focus your efforts on keeping pace and doing the best you can do.
Give yourself time to find the trail head so that you arrive prior to the scheduled time. That is the time we head out on the trail. It would be disappointing to miss having you on the hike due to late arrival.
Wear comfortable hiking shoes with good rugged soles that are well broken in.
Duration: 4+ hours
Facilities: at Pantoll Ranger Station about 2/3 of the way along the hike
Bring plenty of water. More than one bottle is usually a good idea
Bring trail snacks and a sack lunch
No dogs allowed
Dress in layers. It can be Warm!! It can be Foggy, Windy and Cold!!
Bring your smile and great attitude!
See you on the trail!