Come stroll among 1000 year old giant trees towering 260 feet high. Until the 1800's, many northern California coastal valleys were covered with coast redwood trees similar to those now found in Muir Woods National Monument. The forest along Redwood Creek in today's Muir Woods was spared from logging because it was hard to get to.Realizing that Redwood Creek contained one of the San Francisco Bay Area's last uncut stands of old-growth redwood, Congressman William Kent & his wife bought 295 acres here for $45,000 in 1905. To protect the redwoods the Kents donated the land to the US Federal Government and, in 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt declared it a national monument. Roosevelt suggested naming the area after Kent, but Kent wanted it named for conservationist John Muir.
Information and Hours
The monument is managed by the National Park Service and is open year round from 8:00 am to sunset. The monument is busiest during the weekends and the middle of the day. For the most solitude we recommend visiting during weekdays, morning hours and late afternoons. For information, write or call Muir Woods National Monument, Mill Valley, CA 94941 (415) 388-2595. Entry fee required - $3 per Adult (17 and older). Golden Eagle, Golden Age and Golden Access Accepted.
* No Bicycles!
* No Picnics!
* No Dogs!
* No Camping!
There are a variety of options for getting to Muir Woods, you can join a guided morning or afternoon tour with several different operators, there is a public bus option that runs during certain times of the year or you can do like we did and rent a car.
We got an early start and arrived at the park around 9am, we grabbed one of the last parking spots in the small lot next to the entrance, I believe there was more parking but I understand it fills up very quickly especially on the weekends. I'd highly recommend going early in the day, the park opens at 8am, but bring warm clothes as it was very chilly that early in the day. The woods were very peaceful when we started off on the 1 1/2 hour loop and when we got finished the woods were filled with loud people, their voices echoing through the majestic redwoods. We didn't see any of the redwoods that are so big that you can drive a car through them but there are some really impressively tall trees in the woods.
We saw the coolest thing along the trail, a couple of does scrambled up the hill right in front of us, followed by a couple of bucks and they sat in the trees, the females eating and the males watching us and them. One of the bucks was making this really strange snorting noise, we weren't sure if he was trying to warn us off or trying to get rid of his competitor. And at the end of the trail we saw a baby deer oblivious to all the tourists snapping her photo, we were just a few feet away from her.
A large portion of the 1 1/2 hour loop was accessible to all but once we got on the hillside trail it was not but it certainly wasn't a strenuous hike and the 1 1/2 hour time estimate is generous. There are lots of other longer trails in the park that do involve more climbing but we wanted to see some other things in the area.
Situated at the base of Mount Tamalpais is the Muir Woods National Monument, a forest of old coast redwoods, one of the few remaining in California. The woods are named after John Muir, a naturalist and conservationist who fought for the creation of national parks. The Main Trail is paved and is very crowded especially on weekends; it features one of the tallest trees in the forest. If you follow one of the trails branching from the Main Trail you can leave the crowds behind and enjoy a nice hike. Muir Woods is accesible by car. There is no public transportation but you can find some tour companies that go there.
Muir Woods is a 560 acre park. If you love to walk, this is THE place! Meanwhile, if you gaze upward, WAY UP...you will see some very, VERY tall trees! The trees are called Coast Redwoods and only grow on a thin 500 mile strip of the Pacific Coast.
After about 30 minutes of winding road we reached Muir Woods National Monument, a 560 acre redwood forest in Mill Valley.
The first thing that struck me about this place was how utterly peaceful it is. I walked quietly along the paved trail, careful not to make too much noise lest I disturb the peace. This was nature in it's most majestic form. I was in awe of just how incredibly tall and wide these things were! (Stretching up to over 300 feet, they are in fact the tallest living things on the planet.) Because of their strength and resistance to fire, drought and disease most have been around for over 800-1000 years.
The park has numerous trails of varying degrees of difficulty, but because of (coughcough) the lack of time, we kept to the (easy) main trail loop that led us over creeks, under fallen redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens, for the geek in you), through hollow tree trunks, inside charred trunks of live trees, and past thick ferns. The entire forest floor was covered in wild flowers, fallen twigs, evergreen huckleberry, azaleas, and clovers, among others.
Being surrounded by all that raw beauty felt almost like a religious experience. It was all at once inspiring, humbling and joyful.
Located 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods is a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Declared a National Monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt and named for conservationist John Muir, the 560-acre park contains the only large stand of ancient redwoods in the Bay Area, with some individual trees over 1,000 years old. There are 6 miles of walking trails, 50 species of birds, black-tailed deer, steelhead trout and hundreds of other "wild inhabitants." Entrance to the park is about a $2.00 donation. Be careful driving up especially during the rainy season, roads are very narrow and lots of curves, Watch out for those cliffs!!!!
The last time I was in Muir Woods, I was about 12 years old, so I wanted to see if it was the same. It was. However, for someone who hasn't seen giant redwoods, Muir Woods is a wonderful introduction. Leave the crowds behind and get onto the trails, where you can see some great scenery and observe some wildlife. We saw a few woodpeckers and also noticed crayfish in Fern Creek.
There are many trails to enjoy in Muir Woods, which are listed on the brochure you get with the entry fee. The gentle Main Trail Loop goes by Bohemian Grove, where the tallest tree in the park stands at 254 feet. The Dipsea Trail is more strenuous, going to the top of the aptly named Cardiac Hill.
There is a gift shop with ingenious gifts such as a grow-your-own redwood kit, and there is also a tea house if you want to have a snack.
We went on a Blue and Gold Fleet tour, which is handy if you don't have a car. It includes the ferry ride from San Francisco. If you choose to go this route, make sure you ask about the pick up point for the bus, as we didn't as well as our tour mates. Our huge group ended up wandering around Tiburon until the bus driver noticed us.
No, I'm not a midget.
No, I have no inferiority complex. No. The truth is that the tree is really very big. They say it's redwood, the only tree higher than giant sequoia.
Having been there, a few kilometers after passing Golden Gate, I have no doubt. And I do recommend the park
If you spend a few days in the "bay area", you have to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and into beautiful and mellow Marin County. The artistans and cafes of Sausalito are salve for the troubled soul.
And, if like us, you're the outdoors-type, drive up to Muir Woods and Muir Beach. You'll be rewarded with fragrant forests of centuries-old redwoods at Muir. Muir Beach presents an unpopulated and picturesque beach, and a pounding surf. The water's pretty cold......too cold for we Florida folks. But, the German teenagers we saw swimming there seemed to think it was no worse than the Baltic. : )
BTW, my VT muse "karenincalifornia" tells me that there's a nude beach just to the north of Muir Beach, so be forewarned if you've brought the kids. :) That water still seems kind of cold for that kind of play, though. The Seinfeld "shrinkage" episode comes to mind.
Muir Woods National Monument is north of San Francisco in Marin County. This tiny park is nestled in Redwood Canyon, a ravine filled with a few hundred acres of coastal redwoods. The coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest living things on earth; farther north, redwoods reach 360 feet in height, but at Muir Woods, the tallest tree is about 250 feet tall. Muir Woods has a good visitor center, and a couple of possible loop walks; the best is to follow the main trail a mile to the Cathedral Grove, then take a smaller and hillier trail back for a round trip of 2 miles. This loop takes in both the Cathedral and Bohemian Groves of the Muir Woods redwoods. Admission is $3 per person, under 16 free.
If you have a car or can afford a tour, a walk in Muir Wood is a must!!
Half an hour drive from the city and you wouldn't regreat it.
These redwoods are really amazing!
If you want to get off the beaten path and take one of these paths going deep into the forest, that's really nice but pay attention, you are gone for a couple of hours, a map is a must!
These multi-centenarian trees were covering the coastal area of California in the past...
Muir woods, even so impressive, is only the remainings!
If you don't have the opportunity to go there, another possibility to however see some (much younger) redwoods is the Botanical garden in the golden Gate ¨park or you can even see a few of them at the foot of the Transamerica Pyramid.
The greater San Francisco area has two must do activites if you have time and an interest: First, the Napa Valley wine country is a great place to visit the vineyards and sample some of the local wine. If I go back, I'd schedule a hot air balloon ride--but the price (about $150 to $175 per person)was a bit steep for my budget. The other activity many tourists take in is the Muir Woods located about 20 miles North of San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge. This is the closest place to the city to view the famously huge California Redwoods. If you go to Muir Woods, I would try to hike further back into the woods where it is quiet and peaceful. Muir Woods is popular with tour buses who drop off a load and then round them up before they have time to get away from the diesel fumes. Muir woods is a great place to take a disposable panoramic camera. The trees are so huge that a normal lens camera will not begin to take it all in.
Muir Woods, located in beautiful Marin County (easily accessible from San Francisco by the Golden Gate Bridge), is a tranquil, soothing place. I am not normally a hiker, but was able to hike around Muir Woods. The air is incredibly fresh, and the setting beautiful and serene. Muir Woods is a national monument and park of the Golden Gate Recreational Area. Its redwoods are over 1000 years old! $3 entry fee.
Well worth renting a car and driving to the closest redwood trees to San Francisco. Wear your hiking shoes and walk all the trails. It was hard to stand next to these giants and not be amazed by their size. The walk was very peaceful and serene. Muir Woods is a long steep ravine that survived the building boom only because it was hard to harvest the trees from the ravine.