The Owl Trail, Marin’s swooping seashore tramp, offers bonuses in winter: the chance to see the moody waves of the Pacific during unsettled weather, the opportunity to spy migrating gray whales offshore, and sightings of the trail’s namesake, great horned owls.
It’s just a 2-mile (round-trip) trek, but it’s not for those with a fear of heights. The trail parallels Highway 1 between the Muir Beach Overlook (spectacular for sunset viewing) and Slide Ranch.
Bring binoculars if you’ve got them, and keep an eye out for swooshes on the Pacific, signaling spouting whales. Or just enjoy the drama of the sea. Slide Ranch, a nonprofit teaching farm, is a crossroads destination on the trail.
BONUS BEER: The Pelican Inn seems like it’s been plucked from the Cornish coast and dropped intact right into Muir Beach. The picturesque place is full of old English charm, serving up bangers and mash and some tasty Olde World bread pudding. There’s usually a roaring fire in at least one of the inn’s three fireplaces to help stave off the maritime chill. Stay until dusk, and you’ll be treated to a chorus of bullfrogs tuning up. And if you just can’t bear to leave, there are seven rustic rooms for overnighting.
The Owl Trail starts from an unmarked trailhead at the north end of Muir Beach Overlook parking lot. Take this north for 1 mile all the way to Slide Ranch, and return the way you came. No dogs.