Mountain Home-Muir Woods Loop,
Mount Tamalpais State Park/Muir Woods National Monument,
California State Parks/National Park Service,
Marin County
In brief:
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 steep.

Exposure
:
Mostly shaded.

Trail traffic
:
Moderate-heavy.

Trail surfaces
:
Dirt trails and a paved fire road.

Hiking time:
3 hours.

Season
:
Good anytime.

Getting there
:
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:
http://www.transitandtrails.org/trailheads/413

GPS coordinates* for trailhead:
Latitude 3754'36.72"N
Longitude
12234'37.96"W
(* 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.

Trailhead details:
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.

Rules:
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:
CSP's Mount Tamalpais page.
NPS's Muir Woods page.
Pantoll Ranger Station 415-388-2070
Muir Woods Visitor Center 415-388-2595/2596

Map/book choices:
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.
Map 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 hike.



Go to Bay Area Hiker Home page


The 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. TrailheadWith 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.Camp Eastwood Road  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 recommended above.
     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 evergreen trees.
     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 Trail.Troop 80 Trail
     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. Turn 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).View from Troop 80 Trail 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.Bootjack 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.Maples leaves on Bootjack Trail 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). Kent TreeBy 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.Lost Trail
      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.Ocean View Trail emerges into grassland
     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 4.7 miles
Last hiked: Thursday, October 2, 2003