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Are Dogs Allowed at Muir Woods? 2024 Update

Written by: Jeff Weishaupt

Last Updated on July 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

cropped woman running on a trail in the woods with her energetic dog on harness and leash

Are Dogs Allowed at Muir Woods? 2024 Update

Muir Woods is a Mount Tamalpais National Park Service unit in Marin County, California. It falls in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and covers 544 acres. If you’re planning a trip to the park, you’re doing yourself a favor. But what about your furry friends? Can they tag along?

The rules vary for different areas in the national recreation area. But for Muir Woods, there’s a no-dog rule since the park gets crowded due to its small size. Only service dogs are allowed in this part of the recreation area.

However, you can take your dog to nearby places, including a beach. Let’s learn more.

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Can You Take Your Dog to Muir Woods?

The National Park Service does not allow dogs in Muir Woods1. According to them, the park has a small area, which gets crowded with people quickly.

To protect other visitors and your pets, you must keep your dog outside the woods. Instead, you can take them to the Coastal Trail on Muir Beach, where pets are allowed. Some trails in the Marin Headlands also allow dogs.

Beagle dog sad
Image by: CHAIUDON, Shutterstock

Why Are Dogs Not Allowed in Muir Woods?

First, there are a lot of predators in the woods. These include mountain lions, coyotes, and bobcats. Since these animals see your pet as prey, bringing your dog to the woods can put you and your pet at risk of attack.

Dogs also mark their territories with scent. It can interfere with the natural patterns and create problems for the park’s ecosystem. Even if your dog is trained well, it may become stressed in unfamiliar surroundings. Its aggression and barking can threaten the comfort and safety of other visitors.

Dogs are naturally curious animals, so you might find them poking their nose in the riverbanks across the park. These water bodies contain dead salmon, which can be toxic to your pet.

Most importantly, the park is meant to be a place of leisure and recreation for everyone. Some people might not be comfortable around dogs or may have allergies. The presence of your dog can make this experience uncomfortable for them.

Portrait-of-a-sad-beagle-dog_Masarik_Shutterstock
Image by: Masarik, Shutterstock

Where to Leave Your Dog?

If you’re planning a day trip to Muir Woods, do not leave your dog unattended in your car. Park authorities recommend boarding your dog at a nearby pet lodging facility for a few hours.

Leaving your dog in the vehicle can be dangerous for your pet. Even if the temperature doesn’t seem too hot to you, it can put your pet at risk of death if they stay in the car for prolonged periods.

The park authorities can remove pets left unattended in cars in weather over 70°F.2 They may also impound the vehicle at your expense.

cute small jack russell dog in a car wearing a safe harness and seat belt in a car
Image Credit by: eva_blanco, Shutterstock

Are There Any Nearby Alternatives?

Your dog might not be allowed in Muir Woods. But you can take it for a stroll in the following places:

  • Muir Beach (Beach Area Proper)
  • Muir Beach (Kaashi Way & Coastal Trail)
  • Muir Beach (Redwood Creek Lagoon & Riparian Area)

You must keep your dog on a leash at all times. The Beach Area Proper allows you to use voice control if your dog is not on a leash, but the other two areas mandate a leash.

male hiker with siberian husky dog
Image by: Osadcha Olga, Shutterstock

Where Else Can You Take Your Dog in Marin County?

Here are some other trails and areas where your dog is allowed:

  • Alta Trail (Formerly Alta Ave) Between Marin City (Donahue St.) to Oakwood Valley Trail
  • Oakwood Valley – Oakwood Valley Trail to Alta Trail
  • Oakwood Valley – Oakwood Meadow Trail
  • Homestead Valley
  • Rodeo Beach and South Rodeo Beach (Excluding lagoon)
  • Orchard Trail (Formerly Orchard Fire Road) and Pacheco Trail (Formerly Pacheco Fire Road) connect to Alta Trail
  • Wolf Ridge Loop (Coastal Trail to Wolf Ridge Trail; Wolf Ridge Trail to Miwok Trail; Miwok Trail to Lagoon Trail)
  • County View Road connector trail to Miwok Trail
  • Fort Baker
  • Rhubarb Trail
  • Batteries Loop Trail around Battery Smith-Guthrie
  • South Rodeo Beach Trail
dog and owner walking
Image by: Blazej Lyjak, Shutterstock

Are Service Dogs Allowed at Muir Woods?

Service dogs are allowed at Muir Woods, per the Americans with Disabilities Act. The service dog must perform a task related to its handler’s disability.

For instance, guide dogs help people who are blind, and hearing dogs assist those with hearing impairments. Besides physical disabilities, service animals also provide support for “hidden” disabilities.

The park management can ask if the dog accompanying you is a service animal. They can also ask you which task the dog performs for you. However, they cannot ask you to make your dog demonstrate the task. You should have the appropriate paperwork on you, though.

How to Take Your Service Dog to Muir Woods

Make sure you keep your service dog on a leash in Muir Woods. If the leash hinders the task they do for you, use voice control to keep your dog in check. People with speaking disabilities should use signals to control their service animals.

The park authorities can only ask your dog to leave the premises if:

  • They are not housebroken.
  • They misbehave or cause harm to other visitors by displaying aggression or inappropriate behavior.

The park considers your dog “unmanaged” if it annoys other visitors or attacks people. A dog that disturbs livestock, other service dogs, or wildlife will also be removed from the premises.

Cleaning up after your dog is also your responsibility. Keep a bag handy to pick up the poop and dispose of it in the appropriate places.

man with disability with his service dog
Image Credit: 24K_Production, Shutterstock

Tips to Keep Your Service Dog Safe at Muir Woods

Muir Woods is an outdoor space full of natural beauty. However, the dense vegetation and wildlife can be dangerous for your pet. Here are a few tips to keep your service dog safe.

  • Check the weather forecast before going to the woods with your pet. If the weather is too hot, do not take your pet outside. Or, put a cooling vest on your dog.
  • Look out for signs of heatstroke, like lethargy, vomiting, and excessive panting. Get veterinary help if your pet is displaying these signs.
  • Cover your pet with a raincoat or waterproof jacket if it’s raining. You should also thoroughly dry your dog’s fur after returning to your campsite to prevent it from catching a cold.
  • Do not let your dog wander into the woods since the area is home to wildlife, including venomous snakes and coyotes.
  • Do not let your dog sniff or bite any plant. The woods are filled with prickly plants that can damage your pet’s throat. Some plants are also poisonous and may prove to be lethal.
  • Check your dog for ticks and mites after you come back from the woods. These pests can carry diseases that may affect your pet’s health.
  • Do not let your dog drink from the park’s waterways.

Are Emotional Support Dogs Allowed at Muir Woods?

Emotional support dogs are not service animals. So, they are not allowed at Muir Woods, like all other non-service dogs. Even if you have a doctor’s note, the park authorities will not let you take your dog inside because the ADA does not require emotional support or therapy dogs as service dogs.

service dog giving assistance to disabled person on wheelchair
Image by: 24K-Production, Shutterstock

Federal Regulations for Dog Walking at Golden Gate National Recreation Area

As mentioned above, dogs are allowed in most parts of the national recreation area. Here are some citable offenses you should know about.

  • Failure to dispose of your pet’s excrement
  • Leaving your dog unattended and tied to your car or an object, except in designated spaces
  • Allowing your dog to make noises that are deemed unreasonable considering the time of the day, the impact on other visitors, and the location
  • Allowing your dog to make noises, such as howling, that frighten the park’s wildlife
  • Bringing your dog to a public building or off-bounds swimming beach

Breaching these regulations will result in you getting a citation and/or paying a fine.

If your dog is involved in disorderly conduct, such as injuring someone, defacing the park’s belongings, digging, or destroying plants, you will be responsible for the damage. You’ll have to cover the expenses for any damage incurred to the park or a third party.

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Non-service dogs are prohibited at Muir Woods, but you can take them to nearby areas, such as Muir Beach. As for service animals, they are allowed but should be on a leash or be under voice control.

Muir Woods is home to poisonous plants, venomous snakes, and natural predators. So, watch your dog closely, do not let them drink from water bodies, and keep them away from local flora.

See Also: 


Featured Image Credit: knelson20, Shutterstock

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