The Sun Trail
Loop hike including the Dipsea, Redwood, and Ocean View Trails
Length 4.5 miles Climbing 930 feet
This popular loop hike ascends to a ridge to the east of Muir Woods. The Sun Trail, carved into a steep grassy hillside, offers scenic vistas of Muir Woods and Mt. Tamalpais.
Click here to see the trailhead location in Google Maps.
The trail begins on the right-hand side of a driveway just across Muir Woods Road from the overflow parking lot. A series of steps climb through a mixed hardwood forest. The trail breaks out of the woods when it crosses Muir Woods Road and ascends by a long series of steps to reach the Sun Trail.
The vertiginous Sun Trail follows the contours of the grass-covered hills above Muir Woods. The trail is narrow and there's a steep 1000-foot drop-off to your left. There are some great views of the valley below and Mt. Tamalpais rising above, but don't get too distracted by the views as a misstep would be fatal. This is perhaps the most memorable part of the hike.
The Sun Trail re-enters the woods and then ends at a driveway that leads to the Tourist Club. This private club, which has locations throughout Germany, offers a snack bar and overnight accommodations to its members. Anyone can become a member, and in exchange for maintaining the buildings and working on trails, can stay at any Tourist Club free of charge. The chalet-style buildings are quite attractive and have a series of decks with superb views of the redwood-covered valley below. The good news is that for a few hours each weekend, non-members can stop here, buy a beer, and relax on the lower deck. The food is limited so most people bring their own lunch.
Passing behind the Tourist Club, the trail continues to climb through the woods before emerging into the grasslands again. Watch for poison oak in the woods.
Take the Ocean View Trail back down to Muir Woods. Much of this trail is not particularly interesting. The trail enters a logged region with very small redwoods; at the Muir Woods boundary the redwoods get larger, but the really scenic redwoods don't begin until just before the end of the trail.
It's also possible to turn onto the Lost Trail. This trail makes a much steeper descent by a long series of steps into Fern Canyon. Again, the last little bit of the trail is nice but the rest is not all that interesting.
© 2006 David Baselt