Dipsea Trail: Muir Woods to Stinson Beach, Muir Woods National Monument - Dipsea Trailhead, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California
Dipsea Trail: Muir Woods to Stinson Beach - 9.5 miles
Muir Woods National Monument - Dipsea Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||9.5 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||135' - 115' (1,370' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||-20' net elevation loss (+2,730' total roundtrip elevaiton gain)|
Dipsea Trail: Muir Woods to Stinson Beach - 9.5 Miles Round-Trip
The Dipsea Trail stretches 7 miles from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach, tracing the Redwood Creek watershed from the slopes of Mt Tamalpais to the Pacific Ocean. The Dipsea crosses Redwood Creek in Muir Woods National Monument at the approximate midpoint of both the watershed and trail.
Artifacts found near the Dipsea Trail suggest that indigenous Coast Miwok people followed a similar route from inland areas to the ocean.
Redwood Creek flows year round, providing critical support to redwoods, maple, willow and alder. Live oak, buckeye and bay occupy higher, drier soil beds along its path.
High winter water levels provide Coho Salmon and Steelhead Trout safe passage upstream to their birthplace, where they spawn the next generation.
The following describes the west half of the Dipsea Trail from Muir Woods to Stinson Beach:
The Dipsea Trail crosses Redwood Creek and climbs nearly 370' in just .35 miles. It emerges from timber on a fire road and quickly departs, the first of many brief interludes on service roads. Follow signs and remain on the designated trail. The mixed forest clears on a steady climb with improving views of the greater landscape.
It crests at 1.5 miles (1,010'), then undulates through redwood and fir to the Ben Johnson Trail split (1.7 miles : 1,087'). Keep straight and remain on the Dipsea.
The trail presses steeply once more and merges with a service road (1.85 miles : 1,130'), veering off (right) soon after (1.95 miles : 1,175'). Steep grades continue past the TCC Trail (2.05 miles : 1,295'), then level abruptly in open space at the trail's highest point (2.1 miles : 1,365').
Views here are exceptional - on clear days you can see the San Francisco Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, Mt Tamalpais and Pacific Ocean.
The Dipsea Trail crosses a service road and bends west, a diverting stretch that curls just beneath a rounded open hill top. Coastal views improve as you progress on this lofty .7 mile stretch.
The trail edges into a uniform redwood grove on a sharp right hairpin turn (3.05 miles : 1,118'). It drops gently at first, then tightens suddenly on corkscrewed stairs.
A fast descent on these steep, oft-slippery stairs levels across Webb Creek to the first Steep Ravine Trail split (3.7 miles : 515').
From Webb Creek the Dipsea veers right past a dam facility, a second Steep Ravine Trail split (3.8 miles : 530') and across a service road (3.9 miles) where it emerges in open coastal hills over Stinson Beach.
The trail drops, rises and drops again through coastal hills highlighted by spring flowers and sweeping ocean views. Note the coastal chaparral and scrub around you, a biotic zone characterized by diminutive, hardy brush adapted to the coast's saline, intemperate environment. Look for deer, coyote, fox, bobcat and rabbit is this rich habitat.
The trail winds quickly through a band of gnarled live oak and arching laurel (4.6 miles) to its terminus on Highway 1 (4.75 miles : 115') near Stinson Beach. To reach the beach, continue .25 miles north on Highway 1 and enter through the designated portal.
- N37 53.483 W122 34.160 — Dipsea Trailhead at Muir Woods
- N37 53.620 W122 35.104 — 1.0 mile mark
- N37 53.889 W122 35.735 — 1.7 miles : Ben Johnson Trail junction
- N37 53.870 W122 36.017 — 2.05 miles : TCC Trail junction
- N37 53.545 W122 36.810 — 3.0 mile mark
- N37 53.509 W122 37.076 — 3.55 miles : Begin descent on stairs
- N37 53.508 W122 37.250 — 3.7 miles : Cross Webb Creek
- N37 53.569 W122 37.810 — 4.25 mile mark
- N37 53.794 W122 38.156 — 4.75 miles : Dipsea Trailhead on Highway 1
- The Dipsea Race is the 2nd oldest foot race in the US. The event took its name from the Dipsea Inn at the trail's terminus at Stinson Beach. Colorful names such as Suicide, Cardiac and the Hogsback have been given to sections of the trail to describe the race experience. Until 1971, the Dipsea Race was open only to men.
- Both Muir Woods and Stinson Beach are .25 miles away from the east and west trail access points, respectively. Both are worthwhile excursions if time allows.
- Mountain Lions are seldom seen but do inhabit this area. Avoid running alone, at dusk and dawn.
- Coastal Redwoods are the tallest living organisms on earth, and can live to be 2,000 years old. Redwoods grow best in moderate temperatures and need significant moisture to thrive. The Redwoods' success along the California coast is due in part to year round fog. This perennial fog condenses on the trees' needles, drips to the ground and provides moisture, even during the dry season.
Camping and Backpacking Information
- The Pantoll Campground is located on Panoramic Highway adjacent to the Pantoll Ranger Station. It has 16 campsites, each with a table, rock barbecue, food locker and space for a tent. Phones, faucets, firewood and flush toilets are nearby. There are no showers. Sites are first-come, first-served.
Steep Ravine Environmental Campground
- The Steep Ravine Environmental Campground is located on a coastal terrace off Highway 1, one mile south of Stinson Beach. It has nine rustic cabins and seven primitive campsites.
- Each cabin has a wood stove, picnic table, benches, sleeping platforms and outdoor bbq. The cabins do not have running water or electricity. Primitive toilets, faucets, and firewood are nearby. Primitive campsites are located a few hundred yards from the parking area. Each site has a table, fire pit, food locker and space for a tent. Primitive toilets and water faucets are nearby. There are no showers at Steep Ravine Campground.
Alice Eastwood Group Camp
- Alice Eastwood Group Camp is located off Panoramic Highway on Alice Eastwood Road. It has two campsites. Site A holds up to 50 people; Site B holds up to 25 people. Both sites have tables, flush toilets, water faucets with sinks, bbq grills and a large area for tents.
Frank Valley Group Horse Camp
- Frank Valley Group Horse Camp is located 1.5 miles West of Muir Woods National Monument on Muir Woods Road. It has 12 pipe corrals, water faucets, watering troughs, picnic tables, fire rings and a pit toilet. The minimum group size is 2 horses; the maximum size is 12 horses.
- To reserve a campground visit www.reserveamerica.com or call 800.444.7275. For specific camping and campground questions, call Pantoll Ranger Station at 415.388.2070.
- Backcountry camping is not permitted within Mt Tamalpais State Park.
- While no fishing is allowed at Muir Woods, it's an excellent place to view two different species: The Coho or Silver Salmon and Steelhead Trout. Adults can be seen in the winter as they make their way to Redwood Creek to spawn. Coho can be seen first in the creek from December - January, then Steelhead from January - March.
- The Coho will both begin and end their lives in Redwood Creek. The Steelhead, however, will race back out to sea after spawning in hopes of returning the next year.
Rules and Regulations
- Bikes are not permitted on the Dipsea Trail.
Directions to Trailhead
Muir Woods is located 11 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Take Highway 101 to the Highway 1 - Stinson Beach Exit. Follow signs to Muir Woods. Roads to the park are steep and winding with beautiful but distracting views. Pay attention to oncoming traffic. Vehicles over 35 feet long are prohibited. Parking spaces are limited and fill quickly on most days. There are no RV parking facilities.
Mt Tamalpais State Park
801 Panoramic Highway
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Muir Woods National Monument
Mill Valley, CA 94941-2696
Visitor Information Recorded Message: 415.388.2595
Information For Hearing Impaired (TTY): 415.556.2766
By Fax: 415.389.6957
The park is open from 8 am to sunset, including holidays.
Approximate closing times for the year:
-Sunday, January 25 -- 6 pm
-Sunday, March 8 -- 8 pm
-Sunday, September 20 --7 pm
-Sunday, October 11 -- 6 pm
-Sunday, November 1 -- 5 pm
Currently the Visitor Center closes at 7:30 pm. The Cafe/ Gift Shop close at 5:00 pm. The Park closes at 8:00 pm.