Dipsea Trail - Ben Johnson Trail - Hillside Trail Loop, Muir Woods National Monument - Dipsea Trailhead, San Francisco: Marin Headlands - Mt Tamalpais - Point Reyes, California

Dipsea Trail - Ben Johnson Trail - Hillside Trail Loop - 4.35 miles

Muir Woods National Monument - Dipsea Trailhead

Redwood Creek near the Dipsea Trailhead in Muir Woods

Redwood Creek near the Dipsea Trailhead in Muir Woods

Round-Trip Length: 4.35 miles
Start-End Elevation: 135' - 135 ' (1,105' max elevation)
Elevation Change: 970' net elevation gain (+1,070' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Dipsea Trail - Ben Johnson Trail - Hillside Trail Loop - 4.35 Miles Round-Trip

The Dipsea Trail, Ben Johnson Trail and Hillside Trail form an ecologically varied route along the salmon-spawning corridor of Redwood Creek, old growth redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument, and surrounding upland forests and open space.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The following description begins at the Dipsea Trailhead in Muir Woods and travels clockwise to the Ben Johnson and Hillside trails:

The Dipsea Trail crosses Redwood Creek and climbs nearly 370' in just .35 miles. It emerges from a cluttered understory on a fire road and quickly departs.

Timber thins on a steady climb with expanding views to a crest (1.5 miles : 1,010'), then undulates through redwood and fir to the Ben Johnson Trail split (1.7 miles : 1,087').

Turn right on the Ben Johnson Trail, which immediately crosses Deer Park Fire Road and drops on 12 switchbacks through uniform redwood to the Stapleveldt Trail split (2.1 miles : 912'). Keep right on the Ben Johnson Trail.

The Ben Johnson Trail drops gently through old growth redwoods to the Hillside Trail, which re-enters Muir Woods National Monument (3.17 miles : 269'). The Hillside Trail levels above the monument's Main Loop Trail with good perspective on the forest floor and canopy.

The Hillside Trail joins the Muir Woods Main Loop Trail (3.87 miles : 223'), which leads to the Muir Woods welcome plaza. Exit Muir Woods and follow the parking lot path beside Redwood Creek back to the Dipsea Trailhead to complete the loop (4.35 miles : 135').

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N37 53.483 W122 34.160 — 0.0 miles : Dipsea Trailhead
  • N37 53.620 W122 35.104 — 1.0 mile mark
  • N37 53.889 W122 35.735 — 1.7 miles : Ben Johnson Trail junction
  • N37 53.969 W122 35.747 — 2.10 miles: Stapleveldt Trail Junction
  • N37 54.002 W122 35.107 — 3.0 miles: Cross bridge over creek
  • N37 54.052 W122 34.912 — 3.17 miles: Hillside Trail Junction
  • N37 53.758 W122 34.530 — 3.87 miles: End Hillside Trail at Main Loop
  • N37 53.483 W122 34.160 — 4.35 miles: Back at Dipsea Trailhead

Worth Noting

  • Coastal Redwoods are the tallest living organisms on earth, and can live over 2,000 years. Redwoods grow best in moderate temperatures and need significant moisture to thrive. The Redwoods' success along the California coast is due in part to year round fog. This perennial fog condenses on the trees' needles, drips to the ground and provides moisture, even during the dry season.

  • The Dipsea Race is the 2nd oldest foot race in the US. The event took its name from the Dipsea Inn at the Dipsea Trail's terminus at Stinson Beach. Colorful names such as Suicide, Cardiac and the Hogsback have been given to sections of the trail to describe the race experience. Until 1971, the Dipsea Race was open only to men.

  • Mountain Lion are seldom seen but do inhabit this area. Avoid running alone, or at dusk and dawn. Look for deer and bobcat on the Ben Johnson Trail.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Camping is not permitted in Muir Woods National Monument, however there are several campgrounds in the surrounding Golden Gate National Recreation Area including the Marin Headlands and Mt. Tamalpais State Park.

Pantoll Campground

  • The Pantoll Campground is located on Panoramic Highway adjacent to the Pantoll Ranger Station. It has 16 campsites, each with a table, rock barbecue, food locker and space for a tent. Phones, faucets, firewood and flush toilets are nearby. There are no showers. Sites are first-come, first-served.

Steep Ravine Environmental Campground

  • The Steep Ravine Environmental Campground is located on a coastal terrace off Highway 1, one mile south of Stinson Beach. It has nine rustic cabins and seven primitive campsites. Each cabin has a wood stove, picnic table, benches, sleeping platforms and outdoor bbq.
  • The cabins do not have running water or electricity. Primitive toilets, faucets, and firewood are nearby. Primitive campsites are located a few hundred yards from the parking area. Each site has a table, fire pit, food locker and space for a tent. Primitive toilets and water faucets are nearby. There are no showers at Steep Ravine Campground.

Alice Eastwood Group Camp

  • Alice Eastwood Group Camp is located off Panoramic Highway on Alice Eastwood Road. It has two campsites. Site A holds up to 50 people; Site B holds up to 25 people. Both sites have tables, flush toilets, water faucets with sinks, bbq grills and a large area for tents.

Frank Valley Group Horse Camp

  • Frank Valley Group Horse Camp is located 1.5 miles West of Muir Woods National Monument on Muir Woods Road. It has 12 pipe corrals, water faucets, watering troughs, picnic tables, fire rings and a pit toilet. The minimum group size is 2 horses; the maximum size is 12 horses.
  • To reserve a campground visit www.reserveamerica.com or call 800.444.7275. For specific camping and campground questions, call Pantoll Ranger Station at 415.388.2070.

Fishing Information

  • While no fishing is allowed at Muir Woods, it's an excellent place to observe two different species: The Coho or Silver Salmon and Steelhead Trout. Adults can be seen in the winter as they make their way to Redwood Creek to spawn. Coho can be seen first in the creek from December - January, then Steelhead from January - March.

  • The Coho will both begin and end their lives in Redwood Creek. The Steelhead, however, will race back out to sea after spawning in hopes of returning the next year.

Rules and Regulations

  • Bikes are not permitted on the Dipsea Trail, or within Muir Woods National Monument

  • Smoking is prohibited within the Monument. Smoking is permitted in the parking area and entrance plaza.

  • Picnics are not allowed within the monument.

  • Take only memories and leave only footprints. Muir Woods National Monument is federally protected. Taking rocks, sticks or anything from the monument is strictly prohibited and a violation of federal law.

Directions to Trailhead

Muir Woods is located 11 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Take Highway 101 to the Highway 1/ Stinson Beach Exit. Follow the signs to Muir Woods. Roads to the park are steep and winding with beautiful but distracting views. Please pay attention to oncoming traffic. Vehicles over 35 feet long are prohibited. Parking space is very limited and fills quickly on most days. There are no RV parking facilities.

Contact Information

Muir Woods National Monument
Mill Valley, CA 94941-2696

Visitor Information Recorded Message: 415.388.2595
Headquarters: 415.388.2596
Information For Hearing Impaired (TTY): 415.556.2766
By Fax: 415.389.6957

The park is open from 8 am to sunset, including holidays. Approximate closing times for the year:

  • Sunday, January 25 -- 6 pm
  • Sunday, March 8 -- 8 pm
  • Sunday, September 20 --7 pm
  • Sunday, October 11 -- 6 pm
  • Sunday, November 1 -- 5 pm

Currently the Visitor Center closes at 7:30 pm. The Cafe/ Gift Shop close at 5:00 pm. The Park closes at 8:00 pm.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Fort Mason, B201
San Francisco, CA 94123

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