Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
3,123.00 ft (951.89 m)
Trail type
13.50 mi (21.73 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

It might be unplanned but after this hike, it will seem like the route has as many stairs as it could possibly have while still making sense. It will take you from Mill Valley up the (in)famous Dipsea Trail, then it will deposit you in Muir Woods National Monument. Going on foot has one tremendous advantage; you can get it without reservations, as opposed to driving. From there, you’ll start climbing the slopes of Mount Tamailpais that rises up to 2,579 feet above its surrounding and 2,370 feet above where you started. The way down is fun and fast as it uses some of the steeper trails that can be found in the area. This adventure also makes for an excellent trail run.

Start at the Old Mill Park and make your way up Cascade Way. This is where the Dipsea Trail (and the fun) begins; three sets of long, steep staircases on Cascade Way, Marion Avenue, and Hazel Avenue. Go up until you think you can’t anymore, then go up some more. From the top of the third staircase, follow the trail as it runs along Sequoia Valley Road, then head down Walsh Drive. At the end of the street, Dipsea Trail connects you to Bayview Drive at the end of which you’ll simply cross the Panoramic Highway to find the trail starting its descent on the other side.

Follow the tail all the way down into the valley. There will be a few stairs here and there. When you arritve at a parking lot, cross it and head to the right on Fern Creek Way to enter Muir Woods. You need to pay for entrance if you don’t have the National Parks Pass. There are bathrooms there and several water fountains. Follow the Fern Creek Trail (or really any other trail along the Redwood Creek) until you arrive at the Bootjack Trail. Get on the Bootjack Trail and follow it as it climbs up from the valley. You’ll get to enjoy several cascades and waterfalls as you follow Bootjcak Creek. There will be stairs, more than you might expect, so get ready for that.

Follow the Bootjack Trail through Van Wyck Meadow and to the Bootjack Day Use area. There are more bathrooms and a water fountain. From there, the trail keeps going and so will you through the Bootjack Campground and up to the Stage Coach Fire Road. When you reach the road, turn right and enjoy the very gradient ascent that will feel more like it’s flat after what you’ve just gone through.

The fire road will take you to the West Point Inn where you’ll get on the Railroad Grade Fire Road. This one will take you almost all the way to the top. When the fire road ends at a paved road, turn right and follow the paved trail until you reach bathrooms and picnic tables. From there, find a plank walk; it will take you to the top of the mountain.

Once you’ve enjoyed the views, return to the bathrooms, then follow the paved trail about halfway down to where the Fern Creek Trail starts on the left. Get on it and enjoy this single-track descent which brings even more steps. When you reach Railroad Grade Fire Road, turn left and follow it until it turns sharp left onto Hoo-Koo-E-Koo Fire Road.

Stay on Hoo-Koo-E-Koo Fire Road until it intercepts Temelpa Trail, then turn right onto said trail. Follow it until it reaches Summit Avenue, then follow the road until Tamalpais Avenue  appears. Get on it and go down through the steep labyrinth-like streets of Mill Valley.

At the end of Tamalpais Avenue, where it re-joins Summit Avenue, the last set of stairs of the hike awaits you. After you descend the staircase, go down Bernard Street, then turn right onto Throckmorton Avenue. Follow it until you reach the Old Mill Park and the end of your journey.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Lots of shade. Gorgeous views. Bypasses reservation requirements for Muir Woods. Connects many iconic Marin hikes into one.


The stairs can get challenging after a little while. The peak gets busy on the weekends and holidays.

Trailhead Elevation

46.00 ft (14.02 m)

Highest point

2,578.00 ft (785.77 m)


Historically significant
Flushing toilets
Vault toilet
Potable water
Big vistas
Bird watching
Old-growth forest

Typically multi-day


Permit required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


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