With nearly one million annual visitors, Muir Woods National Monument can feel like a tourist zoo at times, particularly on weekends. Fortunately, there's a little known back-door entrance, that offers a pleasant hike with coastal views, ridges, and redwood stands via the Deer Park Fire Rd. that is a guaranteed way to avoid the crowds.
Following the ridge along Muir Woods National Monument's southern edge, the Deer Park Fire Rd. traverses through stands of California bay laurel (Umbellularia californica) and an open meadow dominated by greenleaf manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula). Eventually, with roughly 800 ft. in elevation gain, the views on a clear day overlooking the Pacific Ocean are enough to entice any visitor.
As the trail levels out and you enter the coast redwood forest (Sequoia sempervirens) you'll have crossed into the protected Muir Woods National Monument. A little ways further turn right onto the Ben Johnson Trail which begins your descent down to Redwood Creek amongst increasingly larger redwoods and impressive Douglas firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii).
In total, the loop through Muir Woods and along the Deer Park Fire Rd. is roughly 4.3 miles and is one of our recommended routes for visiting this national treasure.
Note: Mountain bikes and horses are permitted on Deer Park Fire Rd., but may not use any other trails in Muir Woods National Monument.