Located just 2.5 miles from Mill Valley and only 19kms north of San Francisco is the tranquil beauty of Muir Woods National Monument.
Muir Woods is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and its 2.4km of paved trails provide a peaceful respite from the bustling world outside. You can if you have the time venture off the paved trails as there are 6 miles of trails (some quite demanding) in total.
There are three easy access trails to enjoy, a 30 minute loop, 60 minute loop and 90 minute loop. All these walks afford stunning up close encounters with thousands of old growth Coastal Redwoods and afford quite spectacular photo opportunities however I would suggest staying on the trails to avoid the inevitable patches of poison oak.
If you would prefer to enjoy the redwoods on a more one to one basis I would arrive early or late in the day as it is very popular and at times quite crowded.
Opening hours are from 8am to 8pm.
The beautiful town of Mill Valley has a very artistic feel and a number of art galleries to enjoy.
One gallery I definitely recommend seeing is Robert Green Fine Arts in Throckmorton Ave. Different artists are highlighted throughout the year and the paintings are largely contemporary with an emphasis on colour which I personally love.
During my stay in Mill Valley I was told that the community hosts a Fall Arts Festival annually. It is held in Old Mill Park and according to promotional material given to me will be held on the weekend of September 25 - 26 this year.
There is no doubt that this would be a fabulous event if the galleries in town are anything to go by.
Mill Valley locals are overwhelmingly friendly and the festival showcases the work of various artists including sculpture, jewellery making, ceramics, woodwork, photography and clothing design.
It would be a most enjoyable way to spend a weekend.
Winter is the best time to take the Steep Ravine hike. A good part of the hike goes along a creek. Because of change in elevation, most of the creek consists of cascading waterfalls. Sounds soothing - and would be, but the hike is moderately strenuous in parts due to steep elevation change.
I love the Steep Ravine hiking trail because the terrain is so diverse! Before descending into the ravine, the trail winds alongside the hills. Fabulous views of San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean will take your breath away!
Steep Ravine hiking trail is only 3.5 miles long but it will give you a good workout. The trail has many steps - you will go down then up. It even has a ladder. The ravine is green and shaded all year round. We did the hike in 90 minutes.
Mill Valley is the gateway to several fun activities:
Drive to Stinson Beach and put a toe in the water. Too cold for much else than that.
Hike or camp around Mt. Tam State Park. The hiking trails are gorgeous!
Visit our famed Muir Woods - one of our redwood groves, which almost was destroyed when plans were made to build a rail line through it!
To the west of Mill Valley is the Mount Tamalpais Watershed area. The Watershed area contains hundreds of undeveloped acres and provides the source of much of Marin County's potable water. The Watershed is open to hiking and fishing. The area has some gorgeous scenery and is one of my favorite hiking places in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information on hiking and fishing in the area, click on the website link. Check out my Mt. Tamalpais Watershed travelogue for more pictures of this beautiful area.
See my travelogue for more photos and a description of the hike my husband and I took in August through the watershed.
Boyle Park is Mill Valley's Little League field. Across the creek there is a great picnic area and playground. Most large community events take place here, as does the annual Litlle League Parade, which is a BIG deal. Few people remember nowadays, but this humble field was once the site of baseall history!
Way back in 1973, the Bears had a new homerun slugger who was the talk of the town. Only problem was - this new homerun slugger's name was Jenny Fulle... a GIRL! After much debate, the word came down from LLB - No Girls Allowed! MillValley responded by closing the field and Fulle (with some help from NOW and the ACLU) took Little League to court. LLB's defense was that it didn't want to see the lil' ladies getting hurt.
A judge ruled against LLB, and in the following season - 1974 - Jenny Fulle became the first girl to officially play Little League Baseball! She led the league in homeruns that year, but, more importantly, she became a national celebrity and helped paved the way for little girls everywhere to play Little League!
So take your daughter here and show her where it all happened! Oh, and Dad... think about what this all means to your daughter next time you bash the ACLU!
PS - these days, Ms. Fulle is doing quite alright for herself - she is the Senior Vice President of Production at Sony Pictures Imageworks! If you want to read her bio, go to www.imageworks.com/company/bios/jfulle.html