Here’s a little magic trick called the great Muir Woods disappearing act: Walk through the main gate of Muir Woods. Encounter loads of people. Keep walking down the paved trail for a few minutes, then—here’s the “secret”—take a right on the Ocean View Trail. Shazam! The crowds are gone! And you’re hiking through a canopy of gorgeous redwoods. For an easy 4-mile loop, keep hiking up the Ocean View Trail to Panoramic Trail. Take in the ocean view before heading down to the woods again, towards the Tourist Club—the Bay Area’s closest thing to an alpine hut, where open decks and cold beers inspire a break. When you’re ready, the Sun Trail continues south from the Tourist Club, to the Dipsea Trail. Get a taste of this famous endurance trail-running path as it dips and winds back to Muir Woods. Ta-dah!
Walk through the Muir Woods entrance ($5 per person), pick up a map, and continue along the main trail on the right side of Redwood Creek. After .2 mile, turn right on the Ocean View Trail. At the junction with Lost Trail, stay right and keep going uphill. After 1.8 miles reach the Panoramic Trail (not marked) paralleling Panoramic Hwy. and go right. In 5 to 10 minutes, make a right down the Redwood Trail (currently there is no sign; look for railroad ties lying perpendicular to the trail. If you pass an old rusty car on the trail, you’ve gone too far.) Reach the Tourist Club. The Sun Trail starts south of the club. In .5 mile you’ll reach Muir Woods Rd. Cross it, and turn right down the Dipsea Trail. The trail isn’t maintained in one section and you’re required to straddle over a large drainage pipe. Reach the Muir Woods parking lot in .75 mile. No dogs.