San Francisco to Point Reyes
From the bustling crowds of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco to the haunting redwood hush of Cathedral Grove in Muir Woods, Northern California offers a panoply of landscapes to explore. Our unique self-guided walking itinerary starts in the beguiling city of San Francisco—home to eclectic, artsy neighborhoods and raucous flocks of wild parrots—and takes you across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County’s quaint coastal region. While there, you can browse galleries and boutiques in historic Sausalito, marvel at the 100-mile view from atop Mount Tamalpais, and step back in time among the awe-inspiring redwoods of Muir Woods. To the north, Pacific splendor and rich marine life await at the Point Reyes National Seashore. Each stop along the itinerary delights, from seaside boutique hotels to charming English-style inns and mountaintop lodges, all serving up fresh and enticing California fare.
From our blog
Itinerary and Accommodations
Arrival in San Francisco. Optional Barbary Coast Trail; 4 miles, easy, 100-ft elevation gain, 300-ft elevation loss
Upon arrival at your boutique hotel ideally located near Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square, you can set off for today’s optional walk and weave your way through the city on a historical and cultural exploration. Including well-known highlights such as Chinatown and Union Square, the fascinating route also brings you through quieter neighborhoods and to hidden gems such as Maiden Lane and Telegraph Hill. You may shorten the walk as you wish, or, if you arrive later in the day, you may relax at your hotel or stroll along the waterfront, perhaps ride a historical cable car, or visit one of the local museums or art galleries. Complimentary bicycles are also available at the hotel. Adjacent to your hotel is the Maritime National Historic Park’s Visitor Center and Interactive Museum, which provides an excellent introduction to the history of San Francisco and its surroundings. World-class restaurants abound at your doorstep (advance reservation of approximately two months recommended), or you may dine at the hotel’s casual seafood restaurant in a Gold Rush Era ambiance.
San Francisco, California
A deluxe boutique hotel ideally located between Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. The century-old renovated brick building blends authentic timber and brick with a theme reminiscent of the neighborhood’s seafaring past: a working astronomer’s clock, whimsical décor inspired by ocean liners, and nautical print fabrics. The hotel’s EarthCare program demonstrates a strong commitment to sustainable practices while guests enjoy spacious rooms, a fitness center, spa services, and complimentary bicycles.
San Francisco to Sausalito; 8.5 miles, easy, 250-ft elevation gain and loss
From vibrant San Francisco to the charming, historical village of Sausalito, this full day of walking is rich in natural scenery and culture. Leaving your hotel on foot, you walk along the San Francisco waterfront, passing Ghirardelli Square (of chocolate fame), historical Fort Mason Park, and the Palace of Fine Arts before following Marina Street, with views of the Bay on one side and lovely San Francisco homes on the other, on the way to cross the majestic Golden Gate Bridge. At 1.7 miles long, this famous suspension bridge offers a pedestrian lane where you can linger over views of the city, bay, and Alcatraz and Angel islands. Leaving the bridge, a quiet road passes a former fort and museum before climbing slightly to a headland—a perfect place to enjoy your packed lunch. The final few miles of walking follow a road leading to the Sausalito waterfront promenade, lined with cafés and art galleries.
Built in 1885 as a private villa overlooking the Bay Area, and temporarily hosting military families during World War II, the mansion as well as 16 hillside cottages are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The elegant Casa Madrona offers spacious contemporary rooms with private balconies overlooking the harbor and heart of historical Sausalito. Amenities include a 3,000-square-foot spa and a fitness center. Dining options range from casual al fresco bistros to a Michelin-recognized restaurant (some requiring advance reservations).
Sausalito to Muir Beach; 5.5 miles, easy to moderate, 700-ft elevation gain and loss
A short mid-morning transfer takes you to the Tennessee Valley and a wide, well-maintained trail. In just under 2 miles of walking, you reach the lovely Tennessee Valley Cove—nestled between bluffs on either side, this small beach is perfect for a break. As part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, this protected region is home to over 1,200 plant and animal species and encompasses 59 miles of bay and ocean shoreline. A gradual climb rises to a coastal plateau offering spectacular views of the ocean and, on a clear day, the San Francisco skyline. The trail then hugs the coastline, with a short but steep descent into a lush gully before climbing back to the ridge. As you approach Muir Beach, with its beautiful cove (and one of the only swimmable beaches in the area) and hamlet, you are also walking in the foothills of Mount Tamalpais—its ridge is tomorrow’s destination.
Muir Beach, California
From a family of British innkeepers, Charles Felix drew his inspiration from Sir Francis Drake when creating this charming inn in 16th-century English West Country style in the quiet cove of Muir Beach. The seven-room hotel features antique furniture, a cozy salon with an inglenook fireplace, and covered garden patio. Typical English fare of locally sourced ingredients is served at a full country breakfast and for dinner, either al fresco or family-style at the dining room’s refectory table. Of course, fine ales are available at the lively pub.
Muir Beach to Muir Woods and Mount Tamalpais; 5.5 miles, moderate, 700-ft elevation gain and 1,100-ft elevation loss
Today’s walk combines open trails with sweeping panoramas and wooded paths as you leave the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and enter Mount Tamalpais State Park. You leave the inn with a short transfer to the trailhead and start a leisurely 15-minute walk to a stunning hilltop view before descending toward the Muir Woods. At the Muir Woods National Monument, you enter the cathedral-like setting of this ancient and magical redwood forest. The Muir Woods is the only old-growth coastal redwood forest in the Bay Area, and one of the last on the planet. John Muir described this area as “the best tree-lover’s monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world.” The trail snakes through fern and redwood canyons, following gullies and streams before reaching the canyon floor. A fairly steep ascent, often on stairs, brings you to the mountain ridgeline and your final destination, a magnificently situated mountaintop inn.
Mountain Home Inn
Mill Valley, California
Perched atop Mount Tamalpais, this historical inn was founded by a Swiss couple, and was once a stop along the “Crookedest Railroad in the World.” Eco-friendly restorations were inspired by the 1930s-era Grand National Park Hotels, featuring hardwood floors and redwood columns. Ten guest rooms with French doors or large windows open to stunning views. In the evening, a dinner of organic California cuisine is served either on the expansive deck or in front of the fireplace in the cozy dining room.
Transfer to Point Reyes National Seashore. Limantour Beach to Olema; 8 miles, moderate, 1,300-ft. elevation gain and 1,100-ft. elevation loss
After a scenic one-hour transfer along the ridge of Mount Tamalpais, you arrive at the Point Reyes Peninsula. This national seashore is known for its dramatic headlands, steep cliffs, white sand beaches, marine life, and tranquil bays. The walk begins along the coast at Limantour Beach, adjacent to an estuary and Drakes Bay, with intriguing tidal pools along the way. With luck, you may spot harbor seals bobbing offshore or, in the spring, gray whales guiding their calves along the shoreline. Leaving the beach, you enter coastal scrub and eventually traverse lush forest, slowly descending to the Bear Valley Visitor’s Center, where you may wish to learn more about the diverse ecosystems and cultural heritage of the park before continuing 15 minutes to your hotel. Dinner this evening is included at a favorite local restaurant.
Point Reyes Seashore Lodge
In the charming town of Olema and set in five acres of landscaped grounds and flower beds along the Olema Creek, this comfortable lodge is adjacent to the Point Reyes National Seashore. Spacious suites feature fireplaces and private balconies. Adirondack chairs in the garden and a well-stocked library and game room offer plenty of opportunities to relax.
Return to San Francisco
After breakfast, a transfer takes you back to San Francisco for onward travels.
Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a Country Walkers adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call Country Walkers at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.
J. Sailor, Florida, November 2013
It was wonderful!!! Logistics were awesome. Even though it was self guided tour we felt like someone was watching out for us the whole time.
S. Sailor, Florida, November 2013
Outstanding customer service experience! The tour was well-researched, tour notes easy to follow. The hikes each day displayed breathtaking landscapes, from the Golden Gate Bridge to charming Sausalito, Muir Beach and Muir Woods, Mount Tam, and Point Reyes seashore to quaint, homey Olema. Inns were a star attraction at the end of each day, with luxurious rooms, whirlpool tubs, and fantastic freshly prepared regional cuisine. I didn’t want to come home!
M. Cotton, South Carolina, September 2013
Having always done the guided tours, I wanted to try the self-guided and I enjoyed it very much.
A. Nash, Texas, July 2013
Very luxurious and quaint B&Bs - Good directions.
P. Gach, Georgia, July 2013
Very well organized, and the best maps and info ever!