From Downtown San Fran to Muir Woods on Public Transport?
February 15, 2014 2:46 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible/practical to get from downtown San Francisco (near the corner of 2nd and Howard street) to Muir Woods on public transportation? Details inside.

I have a few days to explore San Francisco coming up this month. I'll be on my own, using public transportation. I dearly, dearly want to go walk in Muir Woods but don't know how practical this would be if getting there on public transportation. I did find that I could "officially" get there or get close, but I would have to walk a bit to get to the entrance of the park and I don't know how busy the roads are around there. Is it doable? I'm a good walker and can walk eleven miles or so in an afternoon.

Bonus points: I also plan to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge during my stay, any advice or tips I should know?

Any other good walks you can recommend in the area?
posted by WalkerWestridge to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure quite what you mean when you say that you found you could 'officially' get to Muir Woods, so I apologise if this is what you found. There is a (perhaps out-of-date--it says 2011) leaflet (PDF) on getting to Muir Woods without a car.
posted by hoyland at 2:52 PM on February 15, 2014

Response by poster: Ah yes, that's what I found (sorry I should have linked it myself).
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:56 PM on February 15, 2014

Is there some reason you don't want to go with a tour company? I booked a bus day tour last year and I think it was pretty reasonable (but maybe $50 isn't reasonable to you). I seem to remember trails near the Muir Woods, but much of the drive north of Sausalito was on narrow and twisty roads. I can't imagine there is an easy walking trail running parallel. Probably some hiking required and it would be a long way.
posted by parkerjackson at 2:57 PM on February 15, 2014

Yes, Muir Woods Road would be precarious to walk. Luckily you can connect to the Dipsea trail right about where the bus drops off, and the trail goes into and through the park. It's a very pretty hike if a little tough going at times.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:01 PM on February 15, 2014

My recommendation would be to take the ferry to Sausalito, and then do this.
posted by aubilenon at 3:09 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Use the 511 trip planner. Looks like you need to change buses a couple of times, but it's possible.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:21 PM on February 15, 2014

Is there some reason you don't want to go with a tour company?

I would guess a tour company is going to give you enough time to walk the main paved trail and visit the gift shop, so if you want to do one of the longer hikes, you are out of luck.

Bonus points: I also plan to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge during my stay, any advice or tips I should know?

If the parking is full at the visitor center on the SF side, park down at Fort Point and walk up the pretty well marked trails. It adds some distance but Fort Point is pretty neat and has great views of the bridge. Kinda hard to actually find Fort Point though, even with a GPS.
posted by smackfu at 3:27 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also plan to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge during my stay, any advice or tips I should know?

Whoops didn't notice this my first time through.

One tip is that the bridge is actually quite long. If you at all like biking though it's great for that. In fact, one alternative possibility is:

Rent a bike, ride a few blocks down to embarcadero, follow the coast (bike lanes, no cross traffic) up to golden gate bridge (there's two steep hills on this route, but they're both short enough that walking up them is totally reasonable), bike across the bridge, and down to Sausalito, lock your bike there, eat breakfast or brunch or lunch there, take the bus to Muir Woods, walk around amongst the redwoods a bunch, and then ride the ferry back to San Francisco.

Now I want to do that!
posted by aubilenon at 3:49 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

There is a Muir Woods shuttle (Marin Transit Rte 66) but it isnn't running until the end of March. As I recall it is accessible via public transit but you'd have to change buses a couple times. Verify against Google Transit (sometimes the Google algorithm works better.)
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:51 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Muir Woods without a car would be a major headache, to be honest. You should walk from the Embarcadero up the Telegraph Hill staircases to Coit Tower, then over to North Beach and down to Union Square through Chinatown. You can also take the N up to Cole Valley, walk from Haight Ashbury all the way through Golden Gate Park to the beach, then grab coffee or a coconut at Trouble and take the N back. SF is only 6x6 miles so it only takes a maximum of 2.5 hours to walk anywhere.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 4:25 PM on February 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

For anyone coming in later, you can take a ferry from San Francisco to Sausalito and then walk to where the Muir Woods shuttle picks up. However, this is only good from late Spring to late fall, as the shuttle doesn't run in winter.

OP - Is renting a car for a day not an option?
posted by cnc at 5:24 PM on February 15, 2014

Best answer: Could you rent a ZipCar for the day?
posted by radioamy at 6:14 PM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Bonus points: I also plan to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge during my stay, any advice or tips I should know?

It will be loud and to be honest, rather unpleasant. I walked across the Golden Gate Bridge last summer as part of my week in SF and had romantic ideas of what crossing the bridge would be like. However, the side/walking lane is right up against the six lanes of car traffic with very little buffer and you will feel like you are walking next to a highway (which you are) the whole time. I in fact put in earplugs, probably inadvisedly, to finish my walk across the bridge because I didn't find it restful at all.

That said, you should still do it because there are beautiful views of the city and the bay, but from a sheer bridge-crossing experience it's quite possibly the least pleasant bridge I've ever walked across.
posted by andrewesque at 9:51 PM on February 15, 2014

Okay, I researched this a LOT for my own winter SF trip. The short answer: it's dead easy in the summer and fall, when the special shuttle goes there, and it's convoluted and time-consuming otherwise (I mapped from Sausalito like aubilenon but couldn't tell about the nature of that last mile of walking -- elevation change, etc. -- it could be quite demanding, although it sounds like you could handle a steep mile).

Almost all tour companies give you a ridiculously short amount of actual time there and are fixed duration rather than hop-on-hop-off. (Most take 4-5 hrs of your time to give you 70 to 90 mins in the woods, often including a "gift shop visit.")

There is one hop-on-hop-off tour that departs from downtown (2800 Leavenworth St), but multiple yelp & ta reviews mentioned bizarre racist rants by the tour guide, so I discounted that one. There is a solo tour leader who takes small groups around for more money than typical tour prices (online reviews are good).
posted by kalapierson at 12:10 AM on February 17, 2014

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