Are you in desperate need of a little fairy tale action in your everyday life? Why not act like Hansel and Gretel and go on a search for the Gingerbread House hidden in the forest just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge?
Tucked away in the middle of Muir Woods, a magical hand-painted wooden cabin called the Nature Friends Tourist Club awaits your visit. There is nothing more refreshing than an ice cold German beer and a pickle after a three mile hike through woods on a dirt trail. The club is open to the public from 1-4 pm every Saturday and Sunday (except every second Sunday of the month). Join an array of friendly people sipping on beer and playing various board games and card games. Be sure to arrive early as the picnic tables get filled up pretty quickly.
The Nature Friends was founded in Vienna, Austria in 1895 to provide members and their families with places to go and enjoy nature and encourage the study of nature related subjects. The Club soon spread throughout Europe and many lodges and clubhouses were built, usually in forests, ski areas or close to wilderness areas. Today , there are over 1,200 clubhouses, run by associations and partners in Albany, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, Ukraine and USA.
Check out the one in Marin, you won’t be disappointed. I suggest hiking there, for the ultimate experience.
There are two main trails to the Tourist club:
- The Redwood Trail. Park at the trailhead across from the Mountain Home Inn, walk south on the Panoramic Trail along to the highway, then turn right down the Redwood Trail. This hike takes about 20 minutes.
- The Dipsea Trail to the Sun Trail. Although there is a significant amount of uphill on the way here, it is all downhill on the way home! Park in downtown Mill Valley, walk up Throckmorton to Old Mill Park, and start up the Dipsea Steps. At the top of the Dipsea Steps, turn right to walk a short distance on the trail along the road, then continue up Walsh. At the top you will reach Panoramic Highway; cross it and turn right at the Y to continue on the Sun Trail. This hike takes about 45 minutes.
Photos courtesy of Yelpers Yan M. and Amy W.