Tunnel to Marin Headlands Closed
The tunnel on Bunker Road from Alexander Avenue in Sausalito towards the Marin Headlands is closed for construction. Please follow the detour signs to Conzelman Road (just above the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge) to go up over the hill. More »
Muir Beach (but not nearby Muir Woods) parking lot closed June-November 2013
Muir Beach parking lot will be closed from June-November 2013 due to construction. Restrooms or nearby parking will not be available at Muir Beach during this period. Pacific Way is closed except to residents. Check back for updates or call (415)561-3054 More »
CAUTION: Post Storm Damage to Coastal Trail
The Presidio Coastal Trail segment just north of the Pacific Overlook and adjacent to Lincoln Blvd remains CLOSED indefinitely. We have posted signage to alert bicyclists and hikers and with information for safe trail alternatives. More »
Muir Beach History
George Kristian Lindholt
The Marin coast is a majestic physical setting for the unfolding story of nature and humans at Muir Beach. The interplay of geology, topography, and climate slowly produced the coastal scrub and prairie habitats that once covered the Headlands. Tall stands of native bunch grasses swayed in the ocean breezes. The dramatic slopes of the coastal bluffs housed showy wildflowers. Redwood Creek surged through this landscape. A massive freshwater and brackish lagoon spread out for over twenty five acres along the shore. Within these distinctive habitats plants and animals evolved together. Bald eagles and giant condors glided through the air. Mountain lions, bobcats, and red wolf packs stalked the grasslands hunting jackrabbits, elk, and deer. Grizzly and black bears lumbered along the shores. Muir Beach was a wild and beautiful place.
The Marin Headlands were once covered with prosperous dairy farms. In 1856, Samuel Throckmorton took control of Rancho Sausalito and leased the land to Portuguese dairymen. By the 1880s, Marin County was California’s largest producer of fresh milk and butter. Much of this success was based on the hard-work of the recent immigrants, known as the Azoreans. Originally from the Azores, an archipelago of rural islands west of Iberian Portugal, these men arrived in California on whaling ships. Those who did not find their fortune in gold were able to use their native dairy experience to get jobs in Marin’s newly-established dairy ranches. Muir Beach and Frank’s Valley was a small agricultural community. The chain of migrations from the Azores to Sausalito were sustained by intermarriage and strong social connections, largely based in the Roman Catholic Church. In particular, Sausalito’s Saint Mary’s Star of the Sea, founded in 1881, was where the Portuguese were most visible as a community. The Holy Ghost Hall still holds traditional Portuguese festivities to this day.
Muir Beach was earlier known as Bello Beach after Antonio Bello, a Portuguese settler who supposedly bought the entire hillside for a $10 gold piece. In 1919, Bello established a hotel at Muir Beach and began subdivisions for blue collar summer cabins. In 1945, the adjacent green Gulch pasture was purchased by George Weelwright. In the early 1960s he extensively modified Redwood Creek and constructed the leveee downstream of Pacific Way. The area was heavily grazed for decades.
In the 1950s Bay Area urbanites began to move into this formerly isolated area. They brought with them respect for rural life, but also the new urban culture of the Bohemians and Beatniks that increasingly contrasted with that of the small farm community. A decade later the Old Tavern became a dance hall, nurturing the new generation of psychedelic bands, some of which like Big Brother and the Holding Company went on to national fame. It is actually rumored that Janis Joplin’s ashes were spread at Muir Beach. The tavern and cottages at the beach were removed in the late 1960s after California State Parks acquired the beach.
Did You Know?
Serpentine soils are home to many rare and endangered plants because they lack nutrients and contain metals toxic to plants--conditions that have led to special adaptations in the plants that can survive on them.