MUIR BEACH MAP SAN FRANCISCO

What’s Best: A large sandy cove, rugged overlooks, and a verdant valley combine for a complete coastal experience. Muir Beach is a locals’ favorite.

Parking: From Hwy. 101 north of Sausalito, take Hwy. 1-Shoreline Hwy. exit toward Stinson Beach. Keep left on Shoreline at Panoramic Hwy, and continue another 2 ml. to Muir Beach. Turn left on Sunset Way to beach parking. Park at far-left side of parking lot. Note: Additional parking in hike descriptions. Agency: Golden Gate National Recreation Area

From the parking area, head across the bridge and onto the sands of Muir Beach. You’ll cross Redwood Creek, adding its freshwater to the Pacific; from the bridge a wildlife path leads upstream away from the beach for about .25-mile. The broad sand crescent of Muir Beach is framed by blogend cliffs. You can also augment your beach walk with treks on bluff trails near the south end of the beach.

The Coyote Ridge loop takes you 900 feet up to an open ridge of the Marin Headlands. Cross the footbridge and take the Coastal Trail on your left. You jump up 400 feet over the first .5-mile. You’ll come to a fine view bluff at the top sometimes called the Matt Sagues Overlook, because he was hiking so fast up the grade he overlooked it. Keep to your left past this overlook, climbing an open sweep of the Coyote Ridge Trail. Stay left, heading inland, as a spur of the Coyote Ridge Trail heads right, toward Tennessee Valley. A short distance past this junction go left on the Middle Green Gulch Trail, which makes a curving descent to the green fields just west of Green Gulch Farm. Make a left at the bottom, following Redwood Creek .75-mile back to the beach trailhead.

For Pirates Cove, a two-thumbs-up coastal experience, head out up the Coastal Trail, as described above. The Coastal Trail veers right toward Pirates Cove from the overlook. About .5-mile along this scalloping trail that roughly contours 200 feet above a rocky shore you’ll see a spur trail dropping down the cove. The trail junction is at the low point between Muir Beach and Tennessee Valley; you could look down upon Tennessee Valley by continuing up to the next ridge south. The short, steep trail leads to the little rocky cove where pirates or anyone else would have trouble mooring.

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The Green Gulch Farm loop takes in a huge organic garden and Zen center that is a West Marin institution. Go left at the footbridge and keep left on the Green Gulch Trail. Make sure to keep left and not go up Middle Green Gulch. The expansive gardens are a tranquil stroll for everyone, and a must-see for those interested in horticulture acres of herbs, veggies, and flowers flourish among arbors under huge shade trees. Part of the San Francisco Zen Center, Green Gulch provides produce for the Greens Restaurant at Fort Mason, TH12, and also offers instructional programs, both spiritual and horticultural. From the lower end of the gardens, you’ll see Lower Green Gulch Trail, which follows the creek back to Muir Beach. Note: You can drive to Green Gulch and just walk among the gardens. Go south on Highway 1 from Muir Beach.

The Muir Beach Overlook is a five-star short walk out a promontory above a wild seascape. Parking: Drive one mile north on Highway 1 from its junction with Muir Woods Road, which is just north of the road leading into Muir Beach. Turn left at a GGNRA sign and drive in a short distance to a parking lot. A series of steps lead out to a railed viewing area of the rugged coast between Stinson and Muir beaches. More Stuff: From the parking lot, the Owl

Trail descends along a coastal knoll to Slide Ranch, about 1 mile distant. The ranch promotes earth study and environmental preservation.

Bike: The Coyote Ridge loop is a keeper for fit cyclists but you must ride in the opposite direction from that described in the hiking section, since Middle Green Gulch Trail is only open to bikes going uphill. Turn left at the trailhead across the bridge. Middle Green Gulch Trail begins its 800-foot climb to the ridge after you ride about .75-mile inland.

The Coyote Ridge Trail can also be accessed at a primo trailhead that is a long drive from Muir Beach. You start out at an elevation of nearly 600 feet, from the end of Marin Drive in Tam Valley. Take Highway 1 west from its intersection with Almonte Boulevard. Turn left on Maple Street and then turn right on Marin Drive, following its curving course to the top. From a gate, take a right-bearing trail that connects with the Miwok Trail, where you bear right again and connect with the northern end of Coyote Ridge. The Coyote Ridge Trail forks high above the coast on its southern end with the right fork going to Muir Beach and the left to Tennessee Valley.

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