The best way to experience San Francisco is by hiking it. Get outdoors with local author and hiking expert Jane Huber, with the full-color edition of 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: San Francisco. A perfect blend of popular trails and hidden gems, the selected hikes transport you to scenic overlooks, wildlife hot spots, and historical settings that renew your spirit and recharge your body.
Take in the beautiful beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore. Explore the redwood canyons of Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Hike to the top of Mount Davidson. Enjoy the spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Batteries to Bluffs Trail. This guide offers stroller-friendly jaunts for the entire family, challenging treks for adventurous hikers, and everything in between. With Jane as your guide, you’ll learn about the area and experience nature through 60 of the city’s best hikes.
Each hike description features key at-a-glance information on distance, difficulty, scenery, traffic, hiking time, and more, so you can quickly and easily learn about each trail. Detailed directions, GPS-based trail maps, and elevation profiles help to ensure that you know where you are and where you’re going. Tips on nearby activities further enhance your enjoyment of every outing. Whether you’re a local looking for new places to explore or a visitor to the area, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: San Francisco provides plenty of options for a couple hours or a full day of adventure, all within about an hour from San Francisco and the surrounding communities.
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POINT REYES NATIONAL SEASHORE: Muddy Hollow
- Distance & Configuration: 7.4-mile loop with other options (see Nearby Activities, page 63)
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Scenery: Coastal scrub and ocean views
- Exposure: Full sun except for a few pockets of shade
- Trail Traffic: Light
- Trail Surface: Dirt fire roads and trails
- Hiking Time: 3 hours
- Driving Distance: 39 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza
- Access: Daily, sunrise–midnight. Muddy in winter; otherwise wonderful year-round. No fee.
- Wheelchair Access: Not recommended for wheelchairs
- Maps: Pick up the free official Point Reyes trail map at the Bear Valley Visitor Center, or download it at nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/upload/map_trailsnorth.pdf.
- Facilities: None at this trailhead
- Contact: 415-464-5100; nps.gov/pore
- Location: Inverness, CA
- Comments: No dogs allowed
THE AREA AROUND Muddy Hollow offers exceptional wildlife-viewing. You may see tule elk, as some of the herd from Tomales Point have been relocated to this part of the seashore. Songbirds and hawks are common, and rabbits (and rabbit fur) may be glimpsed throughout the coastal scrub. Foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and even mountain lions also roam these lands. Berry enthusiasts hiking in summer may find themselves in purple-stained-finger heaven. Blackberry brambles sprawl across hillsides, thimbleberries hide in the shade on Estero Trail, and salmonberriesrare in the Bay Arealine Muddy Hollow Trail.
Most Point Reyes visitors know that Limantour Road leads to the hostel and is a quick route to a gorgeous beach. A number of the seashore’s lesser-known and most primitive trailheads are reached from the Limantour area as well, like this loop from Muddy Hollow.
From the parking area at the trailhead, start in front of the trail markers at the junction of Muddy Hollow Road and Muddy Hollow Trail. Walk north on Muddy Hollow Road (toward Bayview Trail), which is open to equestrians and hikers only. After a few steps on the wide trail, you’ll cross a creek then step into coastal scrub. At 0.1 mile Bayview Trail heads uphill to the right at a signed junction. Continue straight on Muddy Hollow Road. Some cypresses, bush lupines, ceanothus, and Bishop pines grow near the junction; coyote brush is the dominant trailside plant. Muddy Hollow Road climbs gently, with a forest of Bishop pines continuing to march across the hillsides burned in the Mount Vision fire of 1995. Look right for a rocky outcrop on the side of the hill. At 0.9 mile Muddy Hollow Road meets Bucklin Trail at a signed junction. Continue straight/left on Muddy Hollow Road.
The trail bends right and begins to descend gently through coastal scrub. This segment replaces the old fire road, shifting traffic away from Glenbrook Creek’s damp upper basin, instead traveling across hillsides to the north of the old section. This is a very quiet part of the park. You are likely to see wildflowers blooming in every month of the year, from ceanothus in winter to monkeyflower in autumn. Muddy Hollow Road (here a narrow path) crosses a bridge and begins an easy climb through grassland and pine. The trail crests and then meets Glenbrook Trail at a signed junction at 2.3 miles. Turn left on Glenbrook.
The trail, closed to cyclists, climbs easily through coyote brush and pines. You might see pussy ears, clover, iris, California buttercup, and blue-eyed grass in spring. As Glenbrook levels out and heads south toward the ocean, on a clear day look back to the north for views of Mount Vision, and east to recap the hike so far. Glenbrook is straight and the trail surface is grassy. Hawks and harriers swoop overhead, searching for cottontails. I’d say from the amount of rabbit fur along the trail, the hunters are frequently successful. At 3.0 miles Glenbrook Trail ends at a signed junction with Estero Trail. Remain straight, now on Estero Trail.
From here it’s a lonely near-4-mile stretch to the next trail junction. Estero continues, descending slightly. Limantour Estero is visible to the right. You might hear sea lions or harbor seals beached on Limantour Spit. Ignore any side paths as Estero turns left, away from the ocean, and heads back north. Estero Trail descends gently, passes a few eucalyptus trees, and then turns and crosses Glenbrook Creek on a bridge. Meandering through an enchanting little pocket of alder, thimbleberry, nettle, and salmonberry, look for huge cow parsnips towering over 5 feet, while miner’s lettuce and candy flower nestle close to the damp ground. After passing through the pocket of green near the creek, Estero Trail, now shrunken to a narrow path, steps back out into coastal scrub. Spring flowers include iris, blue-eyed grass, paintbrush, lupine, and checkerbloomwatch out for poison oak here. Elk are now common in this part of Point Reyes, and you may see them (usually in herds) or at least their scat. On an October hike I startled a herd that were munching at the edge of the marsh. They ran off in a hurry, with aquatic plants streaming from their heads like green wigs. The trail bends left (the old trail segment that went south to Muddy Hollow is fenced off and closed) and begins to climb along the slope of a long hill. Bishop pines line the trail, but grassland still dominates here. (But for how long? The trees grow fast!) Irises are gorgeous in spring, and in summer you may see a variety of butterflies, including buckeyes, checkerspots, and mylitta crescents. Estero Trail keeps climbing, but the grade is easy, and before long you’ll be cresting the hill. A bench on the left offers great views past sloping grassland and coastal scrub north to Chimney Rock. Now the sandy path descends, bisecting a crowded Bishop pine forest. If these young trees thin themselves, a new understory may fill in, including huckleberry and salal. Once through the forest, the trail drops into Muddy Hollow and ends at 7.0 miles. Turn left onto Muddy Hollow Trail. The wide alder-lined fire road offers an easy return to the trailheadit’s just 0.4 mile back to the parking lot.
Lonely Muddy Hollow is the starting point for a number of loop hikes. You can trek up Bucklin Trail and return via Drakes View Trail, a 7-mile loop. For a 9-mile loop, string together Bayview, Laguna, and Coast Trails, finishing up on the gravel road past the hostel and down to Muddy Hollow. Or extend the featured hike by remaining on Muddy Hollow Road at the junction with Glenbrook. Turn left on White Gate Road, left on Estero, and then right at the junction with Glenbrook, and continue the featured hike.
GPS Trailhead Coordinates N38° 02.884' W122° 52.157'
Directions From the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza, drive north on US 101 about 10 miles, and take Exit 450B, Sir Francis Drake Boulevard/San Anselmo. Stay left toward San Anselmo and drive west about 20 miles on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the junction with CA 1. Turn right and drive 0.1 mile, then turn left onto Bear Valley Road. Drive 1.8 miles, then turn left onto Limantour Road. Continue about 6 miles, then turn right onto the signed road accessing Muddy Hollow. Drive 0.2 mile to the parking lot at the end of the road.
Table of ContentsOverview Map
60 Hikes by Category
North Bay (Including Marin, Napa, and Sonoma Counties)
- Angel Island State Park
- China Camp State Park
- Jack London State Historic Park
- Marin Headlands
- Mount Burdell Open Space Preserve
- Mount Tamalpais: Cataract Falls–Potrero Meadows Loop
- Mount Tamalpais: Matt Davis–Steep Ravine Loop
- Mount Tamalpais: Mountain Home–Muir Woods Loop
- Mount Tamalpais: Phoenix Lake
- Point Reyes National Seashore: Muddy Hollow
- Point Reyes National Seashore: Tomales Point
- Ring Mountain Open Space Preserve
- Samuel P. Taylor State Park
- Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
- Tolay Lake Regional Park
- Tomales Bay State Park
- Trione-Annadel State Park
East Bay (Including Alameda and Contra Costa Counties)
- Anthony Chabot Regional Park
- Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve
- Briones Regional Park
- Coyote Hills Regional Park
- Fernandez Ranch
- Garin Regional Park
- Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve
- Las Trampas Wilderness Regional Preserve
- Mission Peak Regional Preserve
- Morgan Territory Regional Preserve
- Mount Diablo State Park: Donner Canyon Waterfall Loop
- Mount Diablo State Park: Mary Bowerman Trail
- Mount Diablo State Park: Mitchell Canyon–Eagle Peak Loop
- Redwood Regional Park
- Round Valley Regional Preserve
- Sunol Regional Wilderness
- Tilden Regional Park
- Vargas Plateau Regional Park
Peninsula and South Bay (Including San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz Counties)
- Almaden Quicksilver County Park
- Ano Nuevo State Park
- Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Waterfall Loop
- Castle Rock State Park
- Devil’s Slide Trail
- Edgewood County Park and Natural Preserve
- Joseph D. Grant County Park
- Monte Bello Open Space Preserve
- Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve
- Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve
- Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve
- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
- San Bruno Mountain State & County Park
- San Pedro Valley County Park
- Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve
- Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve
- Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve
- Sweeney Ridge
- Uvas Canyon County Park
- Windy Hill Open Space Preserve
City of San Francisco
- Golden Gate Park: Stow Lake
- Lands End: Coastal Trail
- Mount Davidson
- Mount Sutro Open Space Reserve
- The Presidio: Batteries to Bluffs Trail
Appendix A: Hiking Clubs and Information Sources
Appendix B: Places to Buy Maps
Appendix C: Hiking Stores
About the Author