There comes a time for many active people where they wind up on the injured list. Recent rotator cuff surgery currently finds me there and while trail running will ensue as recovery allows, hiking has become the activity of choice as it keeps the muscles and cardio strong during the healing process.
Being a recent transplant to the San Francisco Bay area with all its trees, hills and bodies of water, it’s no surprise to find that the list of trails to explore is ridiculously, wonderfully long.
An outing to Mt. Tamalpais brought me to the Dias Ridge Trail where a bit of running shouldn’t have but did indeed take place as the winding trail became too enticing to resist.
I started out on the Dias Spur Trail, accessed from the Panoramic Highway and very near the actual trailhead for the Dias Ridge Trail. Tall, thick plant growth encroached on the trail from both sides initially but it didn’t take long before the trail and scenic views opened up as this spur trail made the connection with the Dias Ridge Trail. A fire road at this point, the wide dirt path lazily meandered across the hillsides. The ocean, at times not quite discernable through the low-lying, patchy fog and seemingly far off in the distance, eventually made a grand appearance.
Colorful wildflowers, shrubs, and purple thistle lined the trail. Generally exposed to the open sky, there were a few periods of tree-lined, shady bliss as well. The signage was plentiful and clear along the route, rendering the map in my pack unnecessary.
Passing by the Miwok Trail junctions was tough. So famous is the Miwok name in the ultrarunning world that the temptation to explore it almost won out. Not in the plan for the day, and with Muir Beach calling out for discovery, Miwok was placed on the list for future exploration.
For those of you looking at a map, The Dias Ridge Trail becomes the Ranch M trail and will drop you out at Highway 1 next to a historic barn at Golden Gate Dairy Stables.
The parking area at Muir Beach is currently closed due to a restoration project and is scheduled to reopen in late November. This may explain the light traffic on both the trail and the beach on a beautiful August weekend.
Once you’ve come off the trail at the Golden Gate Dairy barn, cross the highway to the paved road on the other side. The Pelican Inn is located here, a great place for food and beverages on your way in or out. The paved road is Pacific Way. Normally it would take you to the parking area for the beach but it is currently closed off.
To access Muir Beach from here, take the wide trail on your left and follow it around. You’ll continue past the Coastal Trail fire road junction by staying to your right. This will lead you to the beach on what trail they’ve allowed to remain open throughout the construction and restoration.
From the Dias Spur Trail, according to a Garmin watch, the one-way trip down the trail to Muir beach was 3.82 miles. There are many options for those wanting more mileage. The trail and views en route were spectacular and Muir Beach was heavenly with a wide expanse of deep, soft sand and rugged rock outcroppings dotting its edges.
Of note, there were no restrooms available at either the upper or lower trailheads unless, of course, you dropped in as a customer at the Pelican Inn. Not having journeyed elsewhere around the lower trailhead, there may be other options there that I’m not yet aware of.
Please feel free to leave comments, tips, suggestions or questions about this trail and/or area.