The Nature Friends Tourist Club

Nature Friends Tourist Club

“Deep in Muir Woods there’s a German brewery that you have to hike to get to…”

I had heard about the mythical German beer haus in the woods for years. I had pictured a long, uphill trek. For some reason it would be really muddy and I would be kind of upset at how dirty my hiking shoes were. The building would be very tiny with a giant covered patio that stretched out onto the forest floor. We’d be sipping Hefeweizen surrounded by red woods. When Eric and Whitney invited us to join them on their beer hike, we were beyond excited to go.

Fair warning, there are spoilers after the break.

Like most things that you spend far too long imagining in your head, the actual was very different from the imaginary. For starters, it isn’t in Muir Woods – or at least, not the classic Muir Woods I was imaging. When Whitney parked her convertible on the side of a road in the middle of nowhere I was beyond confused.

Tourist Club

Second shocker, which happened immediately after the first (when we saw the trail sign), was the name of the German beer haus was Nature Friends Tourist Club. Um… what? Turns out the the Nature Friends Tourist Club is run by the Nature Friends of California, which is part of the larger International Friends of Nature that 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. Apparently there are beer houses, like this one, all over the world! Totally blew my mind in a just-stumbled-onto-an-awesome-secret-society kind of way.

Panoramic Trail

Redwood Trail

Turns out the trail wasn’t long or muddy at all. I would guess it was probably a mile (maybe a mile & a half) and bone dry dirt. I was actually shocked, and I think Whitney was too, at how quickly we arrived.

The entrance.

Looking down from the top tier of the entrance.

The house was HUGE and beautifully painted. The ratio of house to patio in my head was flip-flopped in actuality. I guess of the biggest surprises ended up being the surrounding terrain. I had always imagined it on the forest floor, when -even cooler- it’s on the side of a mountain with a beautiful view!

What I didn’t plan for was the people. So. Many. People. It could have been that we went on the perfect day or maybe it’s always that popular, but by the time we arrived the beer line was long, the bathroom line was longer, and all of the tables had been taken so we parked it on the patio floor.

Hefeweizen! Exactly how I imagined.

Excite! Photo by Chris.

We hung out for awhile, drinking beer, eating German pork sausage, and playing Trivial Pursuit. It wasn’t long before our view was blocked by hoards of spandex butts. It was getting packed!

Like Dolores, but Marina-i-er.

Similar to the time we found ourselves stuffed between sausages in the Squaw hottub, we knew it was time to leave. But not before doing some investigating. It seems like members get a bunch of great perks. There’s a tier of the main house only members can sit in and a private mini-house off to the side. I may or may not be considering…

Private mini-house.

I left out the opposite side to get a good view of the choas below. I ended up meeting an adorable dog and finding alternate hiking trails.

I also found this cute house that I would like to stay in.

I then looped around the back of the Tourist Club to meet up with Chris, Whitney, and Eric again.

The view from above.

Friends! Photo by Chris.

The length of the trail, which I had complained about before, ended up being the perfect length on our journey back to the car. Slightly intoxicated anything longer would have been unbearable.

Panoramic Trail

Driving home with the top down.

The Nature Friends Tourist Club is great! There are multiple trails you can take in depending on how far you’d like to hike – ours was probably one of the shortest. They encourage you to bring your own food because the only thing they sell, besides awesome beer, is delicious German pork sausage. Get there early if you want a table, but if you’re fine with the patio floor anytime will do. Also make sure to check their calendar before planning a trip, they have very specific days that are open to guests who aren’t members. See all of Chris and my photos on the brand new Flickr!

Eine gute Zeit haben!