The quiet shoreline of Muir Beach is set among centuries-old redwoods on a remote stretch of Northern California coast. You'll feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of nearby San Francisco.
At the entrance to Muir Woods, follow a two-mile winding road through eucalyptus trees and drive down a country road to the free unpaved parking lot. From there, cross a bridge and walk along a path through creek habitat to the beach.
Although Stinson Beach is a more popular beach, Muir is tucked in a small, intimate cove surrounded by hills, and the surrounding trails reward you with stunning vistas of lush valleys and ocean bluffs. It's designated as a dog beach, so there are pets about, but most dogs you encounter are well-behaved.
You might be fortunate enough to see whales (in season) or dolphins as you walk the windy trail. Be sure to bring a light jacket and gloves. And you’ll have tons of Kodak moments here with the stunning scenery – so don’t forget the camera.
Once you’ve parked the car at the lot you have your choice of two paths: the Coastal Trail or the trail to Muir Beach. The Coastal Trail is a favorite hike in Marin, and ascends to the top of a rugged bluff (left) where you can see both Muir Beach and Redwood Creek.
Farther up the trail you’ll see Pirates Cove and perhaps seals basking there. All along the trail you’ll find stunning coastline views. If it's a clear day you can even see Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco.
After an early morning hike at Muir Beach on Sundays, drive to the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center where you can indulge in a lunch ($10/person donation requested) with meditation instruction, lecture and tea. If you’re traveling from San Francisco, take Highway 101 across the Golden Gate Bridge and merge onto Highway 1 north toward Mill Valley/Stinson Beach. Follow the signs to Muir Beach and stay on Highway 1 (Shoreline Highway). At Muir Beach, turn left onto Pacific Way to reach its parking lot.
There's also free parking for customers at the Pelican Inn if you stop in for a drink or food or stay overnight.
If you're heading to the Bay Area, Muir Beach is definitely worth a detour. Best time to go is during the week (to avoid crowds) in July or August when it’s sunny.