ROAD CLOSED TO THRU TRAFFIC…go around those signs on Highway 1 north of Muir Beach and head up to the now deserted trail head for the Coastal View Trail! It was H O T last weekend and we decided to go coastal for our hike and found this lovely loop that goes from the coast up to skirt Muir Woods and down. Thinking there would be a nice ocean breeze to go along with our mostly exposed hike we went for it!
The ocean view from our parking spot along the road was beautiful! The water was so calm, there was no breeze and beautiful clear skies for days. While this was beautiful it made for a hot climb up to the Dipsea Trail. This first part is a fire road with a nice incline, not too steep and wide enough to jump to the side when the mountain bikers come flying down the hill. I can only imagine how fun this would be to go down on a bike! Since the road is closed to thru traffic we were the only people heading up from here and the wildlife were out enjoying the sunshine. Little lizards scattering as we walked by, baby bunnies chillin’ on the trail until they realized we were there, and a lovely deer grazing alongside the trail.
Shade finally hit around mile 2 but was short lived. We took a breather and enjoyed this great little pocket of trees lush with ferns underneath and poison oak along the trail. This nasty plant seems to be able to thrive anywhere! Not too far from here we started seeing a long trail of runners heading up the Dipsea Trail. Here we knew we were close to the intersection and a relief from the sun. Don’t forget to look east and enjoy the views of Mt Diablo!
The Dipsea Trail and Deer Park Fire Road run parallel to each other and crisscross several times. Since there were so many runners on the Dipsea Trail that day (not running at this point) we decided to take Deer Park Fire Road to stay out of their way. This is just as beautiful. Walking through the redwood forest is always so peaceful no matter how many people may be around. There’s just something about the feeling you get when you are hugged by these wise old giants.
After you enjoy your hike downhill in the shade, carefully cross the road and find the over grown Redwood Creek Trail. I hesitate to tell you to go this way because it is sooo over grown with grasses and who knows what else underneath but you aren’t on the tight winding Muir Woods Road. We took the trail, crossed a couple of bridges, waded through the tall grasses and followed the trail until we could easily reach the road again. I am sensitive to grasses and allergic so I came out with little red bumps everywhere and itchy red eyes. If you have those allergies, I would recommend carefully walking along the road (1.5 miles) to the Heather Cutoff and avoid the Redwood Creek trail.
The Heather Cutoff begins at the edge of a meadow. Look for the trail sign straight ahead and enjoy the flat ground for a bit! From here you hike up a very well maintained switchback trail. You are on the other side of the hill from the ocean so not much breeze here and very little shade. There were wildflowers all along the trail to enjoy and as you climb you start to gain some views of the valley below. Toward the top we were able to see our car and enjoy a slight ocean breeze. I was so excited! Once we hit the Coastal View Trail we picked up our pace and headed to the car to get some relief from the sunshine!
While you are up here, check out the Muir Beach Overlook. It’s a great spot for a picnic and views of the coastline!
As usual we used the directions found on Bay Area Hiker, no facilities, 75% full sun exposure, no parking fees but also very little parking on the turnout on the road, 8.2 miles, moderate level, 1,300 elevation gain/loss.
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