Coastal redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument
Getting to Muir Woods
There is no public transportation to the Muir Woods. Located just 12 miles (19 km) north from the Golden Gate Bridge, there are two ways of getting there – a tour or by car. I took the City Sightseeing tour to explore the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito town and then the Muir Woods.
On the way to the Muir Woods from Sausalito we passed many eucalyptus trees. You might think they are original to this area but they come from Australia. A Californian guy thought the eucalyptus trees would be great for making ships so he brought them to the San Francisco Bay. Only later on he found out the trees peel and brake in the heat so it was not the best idea. The eucalyptus trees also get huge as they drink and drink water and just never stop. There have been attempts to cut them off in California as the eucalyptus trees basically take water that other trees/plants would use. We also saw a few eucalyptus trees from the Napa Valley Wine Train and when driving through Presidio on the City Sightseeing bus in San Francisco.
Already before the entrance to the Muir Woods we all realized how much easier it is to get to the national monument by a City Sightseeing bus as it leaves you just a few meters from the entrance but if you got here driving your own car, you would have to park along the road and then walk pretty long just to get to the entrance.
There is the entrance fee of $7 to get to the Muir Woods National Monument. I was lucky enough to visit it on the Earth Day so we got free entrance together with a map and description of the routes. The park is very well organized with many signs but it is still good to carry a map just in case you found yourself lost somewhere outside of the path.
History of Muir Woods
Muir Woods land was bought by the local businessman and the US Congressman William Kent in 1905 to protect the last redwoods left in the area after a big part of the coastal Californian woods were cut off. This area was not very well accessible back in time which saved the redwoods here. In 1907 a water company wanted to dam the RedwooD Creek and thus destroy the last living coastal redwoods in the area. To avoid that, Mr. Kent donated the land to the federal government and thus made the area a national monument proclaimed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908.
Nowadays the national monument bears John Muir’s name because William Kent decided to name it that way due to the big conservationist efforts of Mr. Muir. You can find some Muir’s opinions about the redwood forest around the national monument.
Hiking coastal redwoods in Muir Woods
I had almost 2 hours of free time before the first pick up by bus at 2.25 pm (there was another one at 4.25 pm for those who wanted to spend more time there) so I chose to do the trek to the Bridge 4 and back through the Hillside Trail.
From the visitor center I walked through the fog-drenched old-growth coastal redwood forest of trees older than 600 years. I passed the Bridge 1 and 2 and entered the Cathedral Grove where you should be silent because believe it or not, the trees are sensitive. The quiet zone meant not just no talking, but also no phones. I loved strolling among the trees a few times wider than me and many times taller. I was finally not the giant one and was happy to get my peace and quiet in this unique place surrounded by energy.
”The primeval forest is more than what we see, it’s also what we hear and what hears us” John Muir said. And I could not agree more!
The Redwood Creek was all the time on my left side and reminded me of each hiking I’ve ever done in Slovakia because we do have uncountable creeks and streams back home.
The dense forest didn’t allow much light which was a good relief for my nose and forehead after all the walking I did in San Francisco on the warm days before. Here, I could just forget about all my worries, breathe the fresh air and let my mind switch for a second.
I stopped quite often to take photos of the redwood sorrel that was bigger than I’ve ever seen too … and logically of the trees.
My mind couldn’t stop thinking of the ”If you’ve seen one coastal redwood tree, you’ve seen them all” the sentence our bus driver once overheard from one of the tourists speaking about the Muir Woods.
I had to disagree. Every single coastal redwood tree made me smile! If you cannot appreciate forests, especially those unique ones with some trees old 1,200 years and tall up to 79 m like those in the coastal redwoods Muir Woods, then I don’t know what else you can enjoy!
Unfortunately, I did not see any animals apart from some birds, spiders and a squirrel. Not even the famous banana slugs crossing the trails. Most of the other animals living in the Muir Woods are night animals though. The great thing about this national monument is not many insects annoying you as the thick trees block not only the vegetation but are also insect and fire-resistant.
After crossing the Bridge 4, I really enjoyed the Hillside Trail on the way back. Powerful to see the redwoods from a different perspective and even though hiking was on a higher level than the ground along the creek, you could still only see a very small part of the trees below you with meters and meters yet above.
Watching a huge 600 year old trunk that fell down back in December 2012 was an experience too! All the fallen redwoods I saw in the Muir Woods reminded me a bit of the fallen trees on the way to Laguna Esmeralda in Argentina.
The sunlight coming through the thick coastal redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument will be one of the memories I will keep for long.
– the Muir Woods park is open 8 am to sunset
– bring a jacket with you even when it’s sunny because there’s shade in the Muir Woods which makes the average temperature only between 4 – 21 Celsius degree year long
– it’s better to bring some food with you. There is a cafe and a gift shop though for some snacks and coffee.
– don’t feed the wildlife
– don’t destroy the plants
– no smoking, no fishing and no camping are allowed in the Muir Woods
My trip to the Muir Woods National Monument was a press trip as part of Adventure and Spa project.