Muir Woods National Monument contains 6 miles of trails, offering a 1/2 hour loop, a 1 hour loop, and a 1 1/2 hour loop, as well as longer hikes on trails that extend into surrounding Mount Tamalpais State Park. You can click to see a map of Muir Woods and its Vicinity.
Millions of hikers travel to Mill Valley’s backyard to admire views of thousands of old-growth coast redwoods, the tallest living things in the world. But with cold weather coming, and lots of adventurous limit pushers, the Sierra Club has some advice to prepare yourself for the sometimes unpredictable conditions.
According to a recent Sierra Club newsletter, here is a list of five dangerous hiking mistakes often made by beginners or seasoned hikers looking to save time, stating even the most trail-hardened can be caught unprepared.
1. Underestimating the trail: This one is more common among beginners but can have disastrous consequences for anyone. Be honest with yourself. Think about how often you hit the gym and choose a trail that is realistic for your party's ability level. There's no shame in starting out easy and working your way up to more difficult hikes, but there may be a bit of embarrassment in turning around when you hit a wall on the first hill. So do your research: Many national park websites include handy guides to their trails that provide length, elevation, and difficulty ratings, and there are more hiking handbooks available for all skill levels than can be named in this blog post.
2. Failing to prepare: Being unprepared is one of the most common missteps made by hikers of all skill levels. For example, this time of year, heading out for a day hike with only a light jacket and a headlamp could be fine provided everything goes well. However, if you twist your ankle and are out overnight, that could be a miserable mistake. Gather the 10 essentials, anticipate changes in weather or emergencies that might delay your trip, and pack accordingly.
3. Going alone: While a solo hike in itself isn't automatically dangerous. The most common mistake made by experienced hikers is taking off alone without notifying anyone. Be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back. Many experienced hikers recommend investing in or renting a personal locator beacon (PLB), which can help rescuers locate you in an emergency. But remember, just because you're easier to find doesn't necessarily mean you're safer.
4. Traveling off-trail: Even if you have hiked these woods a thousand times, are a licensed cartographer, and were born on this very trail, a hiking trip is one time when it might be best to take the road more-traveled. Though many hikers safely practice off-trail hiking, most acknowledge the added dangers that come with it, as well as the specific preparation required to stray from the beaten path. Unless you're prepared to hike off-trail, it can be a pretty reliable way to get lost or injured (or both).
5. Abandoning the plan: While turning back before you reach the end of the trail can be frustrating, it beats having to make camp unexpectedly. Hikers set turnaround times for a reason, and you don't want to be caught unprepared as the sun goes down. Keep an eye on your watch, and determine when you'll need to begin heading back to safely reach your car or campsite.
What do you never leave home without when you head out?