Muir Beach and Overlook

  • Particularly good for families
  • Hiking
  • Beach Wheelchair
  • Picnic


  • Picnic
  • Accessible Restrooms
  • Accessible Parking
  • Particularly good for families
  • Hiking
  • Beach Wheelchair


Highway 1, Muir Beach, CA,
San Francisco Bay Area
Info: (415) 388-2596
Off leash
Currently dogs are allowed off leash (under voice control) on the beach and on leash on the trails. Best to call in advance to confirm.
Last Reviewed:
December 2013
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Redwood Creek tumbles down from the slopes of Mt. Tamalpais through Muir Woods, reaching the Pacific Ocean at Muir Beach. Although the creek's watershed is tiny––less than nine square miles--it harbors incredible biological diversity, including endangered coho salmon and California red-legged frogs. The National Park Service has done extensive restoration work designed to return the creek and its floodplain at Muir Beach to a more natural condition--work that has also improved accessibility. As a result, this little gem of a beach is even more of a delight to visit.

Before setting out from the parking lot, be sure to check out the tactile model (with Braille labels) of the Redwood Creek watershed that's near the restroom building. Then take the bridge across Redwood Creek to a wide dirt-and-gravel trail that soon forks. The trail to the right leads to the beach; the last few yards take you across sand on a mat that's lined by rope guides. The trail can be busy, particularly on weekends, and there is no place on the mat to pull aside and enjoy the view. To fully enjoy the beach, reserve a beach wheelchair in advance.

At the foot of the bridge If you go left instead of right towards the beach you will reach a rock drainage swale in about 300 feet that will be impassable to most wheelchair users. Alternatively you can hike a section of that trail if you approach it from the entrance road. You can also hike to Green Gulch Zen Center about a half-mile away. See trail description below.

For a panoramic vista and a chance to watch migrating whales (December–April), head north from Muir Beach one mile up Highway 1 to Muir Beach Overlook, a former Army observation post. Stairs make the boardwalk out to the westernmost point inaccessible, but views from the lot are almost as good.

Trails and Pathways

Coastal Trail, Middle Green Gulch
Time to Complete:
45 minutes
Trailhead Location:
Start of beach entrance road (Pacific Way)
Trail Length:
Under one mile total
Typical Width:
4 ft. & above
Typical Grade:
Mostly gentle
Typical Terrain:
Moderately Firm
Trail Overview:

This segment of the California Coastal Trail—extending from Muir Beach to the Coyote Ridge Trail—was formerly used as a ranch and military road. As part of the larger Redwood Creek Restoration Project, the segment was transformed into a sustainable, multi-use trail. Adjacent habitat areas also have been restored with native vegetation.

Exit the parking lot and travel on the road (cars go slow here) until you reach a service road on your right. Follow it a few hundred feet to an opening where there are stables. Off to your left is Middle Green Gulch Trail which passes through the gardens of the Zen Center on the way to the Zen Center. The main trail is flat and wide but paths through the garden are too narrow for wheelchairs. Continuing on the Coast Trail past the stables the trail begins a gentle climb with views of the marsh below. Birdsong was plentiful/ In less than a quarter-mile you'll reach a junction; to the right you'll encounter the same rocky drainage swale that earlier prevented passage coming from Muir Beach. The Coastal trail on the left continues to climb steeply along the ridgeline. In my motorized chair I had no problem with the steep incline but I decided to turn back after a few hundred yards because I realized that the loose gravel wouldn't give me good traction going back down the steep descent. The peacefulness on this trail was appealing but the return travel undid any calm I was feeling. 

Accessibility Notes: Sections of the trail are very steep. The service road will likely be impassable after rains.


The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Accessible Parking:
Yes – designated accessible parking, van accessible, firm, level or slope no greater than 2%;

Van accessible spaces are near the restrooms at the parking lots for both Muir Beach and Muir Beach Overlook

Accessible Restroom:
Yes – At Muir Beach and Overlook. No sinks.

Beach Wheelchair:
Yes – A beach wheelchair (not self-operated) is available to loan for free. Advance arrangements are necessary as you will need an access code for the locker where they are stored and cell reception at the beach may be limited. Reserve by calling the accessibility program manager at 415-561-4958. Beach chairs can only be used while visiting Muir Beach and cannot be taken away from the park to use elsewhere.

Accessible Picnic Table:
Yes – firm & stable path to tables, firm & stable surface, 27" or greater knee clearance; Just west of the parking lot at Muir Beach

Additional Information:

Every autumn thousands of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) embark on a once-in-a-lifetime migration to the California coast. Wintering monarchs can sometimes be found decorating Monterey pines in the small grove at Muir Beach.

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