One of the first side trails off the Main Trail, the Ocean View Trail (3.4 miles, moderate) soon appears to the left. Some advice: Either bring water, or pick up a bottle at the Visitors Center before starting up the trail. The trail climbs through the redwoods for 1.5 miles until its junction with Lost Trail. Turn right on Lost Trail and follow it downhill for 0.7 miles to Fern Creek Trail. Bear left onto Fern Creek Trail for a lush and verdant return to the Main Trail. Along the way you’ll see the much-lauded Kent Tree, a 250-foot-tall Douglas fir.
Alternatively, you can continue on the Main Trail to where Fern Creek Trail starts and hike in the opposite direction to the junction with Alice Eastwood Camp, after a brief westward jog on Lost Trail. There you can get a drink of water, use the restrooms, and even have a picnic in this developed area. Follow the Camp Eastwood Trail back to the starting point.
It’s easier to avoid the crowds by following the Main Trail to its terminus with the Bootjack Trail (6.4 miles, moderate). The Bootjack Trail climbs uphill for 1.3 miles before its junction with the TCC Trail. Bear left for the TCC Trail and meander through the quiet Douglas firs. At 1.4 miles, the trail meets up with the Stapleveldt Trail; turn left again to follow this trail for 0.5 miles to Ben Johnson Trail, which continues downhill for one more mile to meet up with the Main Trail.
You may notice signs in this area for the Dipsea Trail, which goes from Mill Valley to Muir Beach. This is a strenuous, unshaded 7.1-mile hike, and the only way back is the way you came—but uphill.
Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Coastal California.