Mill Valley, California, is nestled in the midst of Marin County’s loveliest areas, and minutes away from some of the best hiking trails in the many beautiful parks and preserves that surround it. Discover exciting hikes through wild and windy seashores, sweeping ocean panoramas, lovely chaparral grasslands, sheltered forests and ancient Redwood groves, flowery hillsides, past creeks, lakes and pretty waterfalls, visiting historical sites, and climbs both easy and challenging to majestic mountain tops affording stunning views of the vistas around the Bay Area. There are hiking trails near Mill Valley to suit your interests, capability and time that will bring you closer to the marvels that make Northern California such a lovely place.
Whichever hike you may choose, always be prepared, and keep certain precautions in mind so that your hikes are fun and safe. Check up the weather forecast for the area you aim to visit; if there is going to be thick fog or rain, it won’t be much fun. Most early morning fogs, however, burn off in the sun by mid-day or afternoon. Wear adequate, layered clothing as temperatures change rapidly, and take a windbreaker as many spots are exposed to cold winds. Carry water, sunscreen, binoculars, camera and maps or guide books, and take along some food for longer hikes. Watch out for other traffic on the roads and multiuse trails, as the area is popular, and crowded, especially on weekends. It is a good idea to try to schedule your hike, if possible, for a weekday, when things are quieter. Muir Woods National Monument is one of the loveliest areas to hike near Mill Valley.
Muir Woods National Monument
This lovely preserve of ancient groves of California’s most unique living thing – the giant Redwood – is literally next door to Mill Valley, making it easy to go and sample its winding trails, many of which lead into Mount Tamalpais State Park and to the Peak, with its incomparable scenery and stunning views. These can be narrow and steep, so should be navigated with caution. Bicycles, pets and food are not permitted.
The Muir Woods and Tourist Club Loop, starting in Mill Valley, just a few miles from the city, is a way to avoid the crowds, making an entry from the backdoor, looping through the forest and going on to Mount Tamalpais and its marvelous views, in a moderately difficult, 4.5 mile hike taking a half-day, with a chance to stop for a breather and a drink at the Tourist Club before returning.
Muir Woods National Monument Exploration starts at Mill Valley, 1.7 miles from the city, takes you within Muir Woods on a moderately difficult, 6.0 mile hike that takes 1-3 hours and gives you a chance to see the endangered Coho salmon that live in the Redwood-sheltered creeks.
Get away from the crowds by going to Muir Woods via the Bootjack Trail. Starting at Mill Valley, 3.2 miles from Mill Valley town, a 2 mile trail takes you into the Woods, then a 6 mile loop, including a rapid 800 ft elevation gain in 1.3 miles. The moderately difficult, 8.9 mile hike takes 1-3 hours to complete.