In 1912, a group of Austrian and German Nature Friends living in the San Francisco Bay Area decided to buy land overlooking what is now Muir Woods, only 30 minutes’ drive from San Francisco. Their first American clubhouse was built in 1914. Members did all the work, pulling materials and supplies up the hillside by mule and manual labor.
Branches were founded in Los Angeles in 1920 and in Oakland in 1921. These facilities are for the exclusive use of its membership for overnights, meetings, parties, picnics, movie nights, social events, and traditional dinners.
Our activities include hikes, mountaineering, camping, skiing, snowshoeing, excursions, socials, festivals, dances, and singing organized by and for the members.
The Alpine heritage is still very present during some of our social events and in our popular fundraiser Fests. Fests are are held in May, July and September (Maifest, Sommerfest and Kinderfest), and feature authentic German music, food, beer, decor and ambiance, all in a secluded rustic setting in a redwood forest overlooking Muir Woods.
The Tourist Club lodge in the 1920s. Photo courtesy of the Mill Valley Historical Society.
The club is accessible via trails by hikers of all ages. They can bring their lunch and come and share what Herb Caen described in the ‘50s as the “the best kept secret in the Bay Area.” Motorists and cyclists are required to leave their means of transportation at the top of the hill in our private parking lot, and walk down the steep paved road to fully enjoy the magnificent scenery, the way the founders of the clubs intended it.
The members built and still maintain the clubhouse. We are members of the Western Federation of Outdoors clubs and the Muir Woods Community Center.