4.7 mile loop through Mount Tamalpais State Park and Muir Woods.
Distance, category, and difficulty:
This 4.7 mile loop hike is moderately easy, with about 1100
feet in elevation change. Trailhead elevation is around 925 feet. The featured
hike's high point is around 1050 feet, and the hike drops to about 200 feet,
then climbs back to the trailhead. The descending/ascending trails are moderately
Dirt trails and a paved fire road.
From US 101 in Marin County, exit CA 1/Stinson Beach. Drive north on Shoreline
Highway about 1 mile to the junction with Almonte. Turn left to stay on
Shoreline/CA 1 and drive about 2.5 miles to the junction with Panoramic.
Turn right onto Panoramic and drive about 1 mile to the junction with Muir
Woods Road; continue straight (right lane) to stay on Panoramic. Continue
about 1.5 miles more, then turn left into the parking lot across the street
from the Mountain Home Inn.
Get driving or public transit directions from Transit and Trails:
GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
(* based on Google Earth
data, shown as degrees, minutes, seconds)
Gas, food, and lodging:
Nearest gas is in Mill Valley -- stop on the way to the trailhead at one
of the gas stations at Tam Junction, the intersection of Shoreline/CA 1
and Almonte. Tam Junction also hosts a number of restaurants and a supermarket.
Mountain Home Inn is directly across the street from the trailhead, and
is an option for an after-hike lunch, or an overnight stay. No camping in
Muir Woods; Mt. Tam State Park's Pantoll campground has walk in sites.
Parking for 26 cars. Two pits toilets. No entrance or parking
fees. Drinking fountain and pay phone in lot. Maps are available at the
Pantoll Ranger Station, about 3.5 miles further uphill on Panoramic. No
designated handicapped parking, and trails are not wheelchair accessible.
West Marin Stagecoach
offers public transportation to this trailhead.
Some trails are multi-use, but most are hiking only. Horses are permitted
on some trails. Dogs are not permitted on this hike: they are not allowed
in Muir Woods or in the State Park.
The Official Story:
Mount Tamalpais page.
NPS's Muir Woods page.
Pantoll Ranger Station 415-388-2070
Muir Woods Visitor Center 415-388-2595/2596
This hike is
described and mapped in 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: San Francisco,
by Jane Huber (yup, that's me, the creator of this website). Order
this book from Amazon.com.
from NPS (download Muir Woods trail map pdf).
Download the park
map pdf from CSP's website.
Dave Baselt's Muir Woods map is an excellent guide to Muir
Woods and surrounding parklands (order
from Redwood Hikes). It even includes the numbers of steps on such segments
as Lost Trail.
Olmsted Brothers map, A Rambler's Guide to the Trails of Mount
Tamalpais and the Marin Headlands (order
this map from Amazon.com), is a classic.
Mount Tam Trail Map, published by Tom Harrison Maps (order
from Tom Harrison Maps), is comparable to the Olmsted map.
The map and text in Barry Spitz's Tamalpais Trails (order
this book from Amazon.com) is helpful.
There's a useful map and trail descriptions in Don and Kay Martin's
Hiking Marin (order
this book from Amazon.com).
Troop 80/Bootjack/Lost Trail loop
in a nutshell -- a printable, text-only guide to the featured hike.
View photos from the featured
Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page
Mountain Home Trailhead is one of the back doors to Muir Woods, as
well as one of the easiest trailheads to reach on Mount Tam. With
space for 26 cars, you will probably have your choice of parking spots,
at least until around noon, when the lot fills up. From this trailhead
you can create a variety of loop hikes. To trek through the lovely
chaparral of the Tam's south slope, cross the street and head uphill on
Gravity Car Grade, or Hogback Trail. Gravity Car Grade meets up with
Old Railroad Grade, which climbs to Ridgecrest Boulevard between the Middle
and East Peaks. Or combine any of these three trails: Troop
80 Trail, Matt Davis Trail, and Old Stage Road. Matt Davis Trail
is narrow and follows the contour of the slope from Hogback Trail to Bootjack
Trail (it continues all the way to Stinson Beach). Old Stage Road
is broad and offers great views to the east and south. Troop
80 Trail is described in this featured hike. Note about maps: For
this featured hike, the map from NPS is sufficient, but it only shows
trails south of Panoramic, so if you intend to hike any
of the other suggested loops, you will need one of the commercial maps
Although Muir Woods is busy with
tourist once Memorial Day rolls around, I enjoy this hike in the late
spring, when the creeks still have enough water for falls, and chamise,
bush poppy, and chaparral pea contribute beautiful blossoms and sweet
smells at this time of year. Winter hikes can be challenging, for storms
often toss down huge trees along Bootjack Trail, and rain-slicked
rocks are not fun to descend upon. Blushing big leaf maples are breathtaking
in autumn, and although it's often hot, most of this hike takes place
under shade of
For this featured hike, walk to the north
end of the parking lot and look for a small trail on the left side
of the road (there's a brown Mount Tam parks sign which is tough to
see unless you're across the street). Turn left onto the Trestle
Walk down the stairs, and after about 65
feet, Trestle Trail ends at Camp Eastwood Road. Turn right onto this
paved road which accesses Camp Alice Eastwood, a group camping spot
managed by Mount Tamalpais State Park. The road descends though broom
(a nonnative pest plant), chamise, coyote brush, California bay, Douglas
fir, yerba santa, sticky monkeyflower, toyon, manzanita, ceanothus, silk-tassel,
and redwood. In spring, look for the bright yellow flowers of bush
poppy, and the purple blossoms of chaparral pea. By August the sole wildflower is buckwheat. The trail dips under shade of tall redwoods and Douglas fir, and makes a sharp turn left before
crossing Fern Creek. At 0.44 mile, Troop 80 Trail begins on the right.
According to Gerald Olmsted's notes on
the Trails of Mount Tamalpais... map, Troop 80 Trail was built
in 1931 by the Ingleside San Francisco Boy Scout Troop and later spruced
up by the TCC (Tamalpais Conservation Club). It's a small, intimate,
hiking-only trail with the disadvantage of running along Panoramic Highway,
so it can be noisy. With the trail's many switchbacks, climbing is
minimal. Young, densely-packed redwoods shut out most of the sunlight
as the trail winds through the trees like a skier on a slalom course. Tanoak
and Douglas fir are also present. Occasionally Troop 80
Trail breaks out of the woods to pass through dense clumps of chaparral,
affording views of the tree-covered hillsides to the south and west. Keep
an eye out for huckleberries and manzanita berries in summer. Creambush,
hazelnut, chamise, toyon, pitcher sage, chaparral pea, honeysuckle, coffeeberry,
and chinquapin occupy the shaded understory and sunny patches along the
trail. At 0.8 mile, Sierra Trail crosses Troop 80 Trail at a signed junction
just before a bridge. Continue straight on Troop 80 Trail.
The trail crosses over creeks and damp
seeps via several bridges and elevated walkways. An old pipe sticks
up through the dirt at spots. Portions of Troop 80 Trail cut through
Marin Municipal Water District land, but there's no real difference in
trail quality. At 1.78 miles, a signed junction offers a choice between
the Troop 80 Spur Trail to Van Wyck Meadow (straight), or Troop 80 Trail to Bootjack (up
the stairs to the right). Continue straight.
False lupine grows in thick clusters on
the left side of the trail, blooming in spring. At 1.86 miles you'll enter
Van Wyck Meadow, dominated by a huge rock and the whimsical sign, "Population
3 Stellar Jays." Trees at the west edge of the meadow provides
shade and a nice rest spot. Walk to the meadow's southeast corner and
begin a descent on signed Bootjack Trail.
Steep steps bring the hiking-only
trail close to a creek rushing or trickling (depending on the season)
down the mountain. Douglas fir, redwood, and tanoak heavily shade
the narrow trail. Bootjack Trail accompanies the creek for a while, beginning
a sharp descent into the Muir Woods. The trail does have a
few level stretches, but for the most part the rocky trail
demands all your attention; a moment of daydreaming could easily cause
a stumble or fall. Further down the trail, maples drop their golden leaves
in autumn, thimbleberry bushes line the creek in summer, and a variety
of ferns flourish on the shady slopes. Look for starflower and trilliums
in spring. The trail squeezes through some trees and ducks under others. After
curving to the left Bootjack Trail drops dramatically to a bridge at the
crossing of Rattlesnake Creek. This bridge uses a huge rock as a
support in the middle. As you get closer to the valley floor redwoods
begin to dominate the sides of Bootjack Trail, and the surface becomes
padded with fallen needles. You'll pass a signed spur trail to Camp
Eastwood Road on the left. Suddenly the creek slows to a gentle pace,
and the trail flattens. If your knees and quadriceps stop quivering,
tell them the
descent is over (just don't let your other leg muscles overhear the ascent
you have in store for them). By now you'll likely notice an increase in
trail traffic, and as you cross from the State Park into Muir Woods, tourists
are common. I always notice that, even from a few feet away, everyone
smells so clean (or perfumed) compared to me! Bootjack Trail ends
at the paved Muir Woods Trail, at 3.1 miles. Stay to the left.
The wide trail winds through massive redwoods.
Pass the signed junction to Camp Eastwood Road, and then turn left
onto Fern Creek Trail at 3.2 miles.
If you ever get roped into
playing summer tour guide at Muir Woods, consider putting Fern Creek
Trail on your agenda. It's flat, runs along Fern Creek, and captures
a bit of the quiet majesty of Muir Woods without the wall-to-wall traffic
on the main trail. Like all trails inside Muir Woods, this
one is hiking-only. One redwood on the left has an unusual amount of burls.
At 3.7 miles Lost
Trail begins on the right side of the trail. Turn right and head
up the stairs.
Stairs are the key word here. Lots and
lots of stairs. Only 1/2 mile long, this hiking-only trail seems a
manageable climb until you reach what I call "the grand staircase," section. Until
then, a few steps here and there, no big deal, but when you start up the
staircase (you'll know it when you reach it), the monumental climb hits
you full force. Thankfully tree cover, courtesy of redwoods, and then
further up the hill, California bay and live oaks, keeps you cool. You
might also see California nutmeg, an evergreen easily confused with redwood.
According to Barry Spitz's Tamalpais Trails, there are almost 250
steps, and it seems like more than that (I counted 260ish, but don't trust
my oxygen-deprived brain). At 4.2 miles, Lost Trail finally runs
out of steps and ends at a signed junction with Ocean View Trail. Turn
left unto Ocean View Trail.
Narrow Ocean View Trail continues climbing,
although at a more sedate pace than Lost Trail. Before long you'll
leave the tree cover and come out into grassland. The trail switchbacks
around a boulder and cuts through broom, blackberry brambles, coyote brush, and chamise,
as well as a few nonnative acacia. Ocean View Trail ends at a signed junction
with Panorama Trail at 4.5 miles. Stay to the left as a spur trail
cuts up to the road.
The narrow trail levelly winds through
grassland. There are nice, sweeping views west and north. At 4.67 miles,
Panorama Trail ends at Camp Eastwood Road. To get back to the parking
lot and trailhead, you can either walk down Camp Eastwood Road to the
Trestle Trail and take that back to the lot, or simply walk on the left
side of Panoramic Highway for 0.07 mile back to the lot.
Total distance: about
Last hiked: Thursday, October 2, 2003