Day Trip Inspiration: Muir Woods with Kids - 510 Families
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Day Trip Inspiration: Muir Woods with Kids

Muir Woods National Monument is likely on your bucket list of outdoor destinations. And with good reason! It’s an ideal day trip destination, especially with kids. Located about 45 minutes from Berkeley, your family can spend some time exploring the majestic redwoods of the Bay Area’s own National Park site.

Child walking through redwood forest trail
Muir Woods is a treasure | Photo: Maureen Burke

Visiting Muir Woods with Kids

Muir Woods is absolutely stunning. It’s filled with towering redwoods that are hundreds of years old, a lovely creek, a lush forest floor, diverse wildlife, and a few miles of trails. Best of all, Muir Woods was designed to appeal to visitors of all hiking abilities.

The primary trail is called the Redwood Creek Trail. It’s made of a hard surface — boardwalk and pavement — that makes it super stroller friendly. The trail is clear and easy to follow, so you don’t have to fret about little ones wandering into the forest. The Redwood Creek Trail is essentially a loop, with several bridges or turn-around points. You can walk anywhere from half a mile to 2 miles on this trail, or 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your speed. Most people tend to walk the loop in a counter-clockwise direction, but you can go in any direction.

Child and parent hiking in redwoods
Explore the hiking trails at Muir Woods | Photo: Maureen Burke

Additional trails shoot off from the Redwood Creek trail. These paths have more distance and elevation gain. Most include stairs and aren’t stroller friendly. However, if you’re visiting with older children or using a child carrier, I highly recommend exploring the trails beyond the boardwalk. You’ll view the park from a new vantage point and experience a deeper appreciation for the woods as a whole. All the trails are clearly labeled and provide some details on what to expect, including elevation gain, total distance, estimated time, and a map view.
Pro tip: Take a picture of the map on these signs before you begin to hike because the free map provided at check-in isn’t overly detailed.

Earn a Junior Ranger Badge at Muir Woods

The National Park Service’s Junior Ranger program is wonderful for kids and motivates them to complete a hike. It’s simple to participate: Find a ranger to get a booklet, explore the park, and work on the prompts in the book. Then, return your completed book to the ranger and receive a badge.

Child getting junior ranger badge at National Park
The Junior Ranger Program is free for kids 4+ | Photo: Maureen Burke

The rangers at Muir Woods are usually located in the open space before the ticket booth and visitor center. It’s free to participate. The program is meant for kids 4 and older, but my kids participated even when they were considered “too young”. The booklets provide children with opportunities to draw pictures of their experiences and reflect on the walk. You’ll also learn some cool facts about the woods.

Plan Your Visit: Parking and Getting to Muir Woods

Muir Woods requires a parking reservation if you’re arriving by vehicle. Spaces can be reserved in advance at GoMuirWoods.com or by calling 1-800-410-2419. Parking rates start at $9 for a standard vehicle. You can select from a 30-minute arrival time window. Time slots do sell out. It’s best to reserve at least a week in advance. Be sure to print out your reservation or save a screenshot on your phone in advance because there is no cell phone or wifi service at the park (or for that matter, along the drive into the park after you pass through Mill Valley).

The drive into Muir Woods is down a steep, winding road. If you’d rather have someone else do the driving, reserve a seat on the Muir Woods Shuttle. A round-trip ticket aboard the shuttle is $3.50 per adult (16 years and older) and free for children (15 years and younger). Tickets are timed for a specific departure from Larkspur Landing, which offers free on-site parking, or Sausalito. At this time, the shuttle is only running on weekends.

Don’t plan to use a ride-sharing service like Uber because you won’t be able to schedule a departing ride since the park has no cell phone or wifi access.

Child inside tree
Don’t miss the chance to step inside a redwood tree! | Photo: Maureen Burke

Entrance Fees and Hours

The cost to enter Muir Woods is:

  • $15.00 per Adult (16 years of age and older)
  • Free for Children (15 years of age and under)

Fourth Graders and their families can visit all National Parks, including Muir Woods, for free! Read more details > Cash and credit cards are accepted. Apple Pay doesn’t work because there is no cell phone or wifi service. Entrance fees may be purchased in advance with your parking/shuttle reservation at GoMuirWoods.com or upon arrival to the park. An America the Beautiful Pass can also be used to admit the pass holder and up to three other adults entry. There are also free entrance days every year to all National Park Service sites. Learn more >

The park is open from 8 am to about sunset. Parking closes around the same time at the park. Plan accordingly if you’re planning to spend time hiking beyond the Redwood Creek Trail.

Related: 5 National Parks To Visit With Bay Area Kids Before They Grow Up >>

Muir Woods Junior Ranger Book
Take your time when exploring the woods | Photo: Maureen Burke

Things to Keep in Mind

Muir Woods is in an area that becomes remote quickly. Let me say it again: There is no cell phone or wifi access in or near the park. Plan accordingly.

Picnicking isn’t recommended on the trails. We’ve had a couple of snacks while walking the boardwalk, but overall people don’t eat on the trails. Plan to eat a packed lunch at your car or in the open space just outside the visitor center. The Muir Woods cafe is currently closed for renovations. I was told it’s expected to be open in mid-May 2023. You can pick up light snacks, drinks, and a couple of sandwiches in the gift shop. There are a few tables and benches outside the gift shop and cafe area.

The park can close unexpectedly due to downed trees from wind, rain, or other inclement weather. Check the park’s website to read up on current conditions before planning your trip and driving to the park.

If you’re an experienced hiking family, it’s possible to avoid the parking/shuttle reservations all together and hike into Muir Woods. Many of the Mount Tamalpais State Park trails join Muir Woods trails. Check all the trail maps to plan your route. You’ll still need to pay park entrance fees.

Bikes aren’t allowed inside Muir Woods. Pets aren’t permitted either.

If you’re looking for a meal along the drive between Muir Woods and the East Bay, consider spotting at The Junction Beer Garden, Super Duper Burgers, or one of the restaurants at Larkspur Landing.

Weather at Muir Woods can range dramatically. It’s often cool and foggy in the morning. Bring layers and good walking shoes. Plus, plenty of snacks and water.

More tips: For $1.99 you can get a step-by-step guide to navigating Muir Woods and the Marin Headlands >

Enjoy your visit to Muir Woods. It’s truly a magical place that’s a blast to experience with kids.

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