The German Tourist Club is a Bavarian style lodge nestled in the outskirts of Muir Woods National Monument just north of San Francisco, California. Surrounded by the great Redwood Trees native to the northern Californian coast, the German Tourist Club was founded in 1912 as part of the Nature Friends organization based in Vienna, Austria. The organization’s mission is to promote nature appreciation, outdoor activities, conservation, and international friendship. Sounds like the noblest of missions to me! The cool part about this place is that you have to hike here! You are not allowed to drive in. Normally this is a private club that requires membership, however, a few days a year they open it up to hikers and serve pitchers of beer. Just check the schedule to see when they host guest days or festivals. People line up early at the entrance to get a spot at a table, and the rest of the happy hikers picnic on the floor or stand in groups. Board games are a popular activity, and most people pack in their lunch. The whole affair radiates a strong sense of community around nature…and, after sharing a few pitchers, the hike out is entertaining! It’s usually pretty foggy and cold under all the big trees, so dress warm! There many places from which you can hike in. Here are a couple of my favorite routes:
- Start at Old-Mill Park in Mill Valley and climb the 676 steps of the renowned Dipsea Stairs! At the top of the stairs turn right and continue up Walsh until you get to the Panoramic Hwy. Cross the road to the trail marker and hike until you cross a wooden bridge that connects to the Sun Trail. Take the Sun Trail until you see the paved trail leading to the tourist club. The hike is about 2 miles but takes about 40-50 minutes.
- For a shorter option, start at the Mountain Home Inn on the intersection of Edgewood Ave. and the Panoramic Highway. There is a public parking lot at the trailhead. Walk south on the Panoramic Trail for about 0.4 miles, then turn right down the Redwood Trail for 0.7 miles. This hike takes about 20 minutes.
- If you wish to extend your hiking for the day, I suggest hiking down to the Muir Woods Visitor Center from the Tourist Club, or taking another hike on Mt. Tamalpais from the Mountain Home Inn.
All photos are property of Christine Donaldson