Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods, home to the coastal redwoods (the “tallest of all living things”) is just north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate bridge and near Sausalito. Earlier this year, the park implemented a policy to limit the number of people visiting at one time, and keeping people from parking on the sides of the narrow road leading to the park. Visitors can now take a shuttle or reserve a parking spot. We had a Monday before a conference, rented a car, reserved a parking spot, and returned to one of the most peaceful parks I’ve ever visited.
A heads-up for those reserving parking: we were directed to a particular lot which was small and had to circle about ten times until someone else left. The parking attendants will divert you to a further away parking lot if you want to cease the endless circling.
The park (formally termed Muir Woods National Monument) consists of two main trails and several branch trails. The two main trails are connected by four bridges (see the scanned park trail map below). On our visit in October, 2018, we parked at the parking lot through which the Dipsea Trail runs through. This trail is the namesake to the Dipsea Race, a 7.4 mile seeded race from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach. We did not hike this trail today but the race is definitely on the bucket list.
Our path took us in along the main trail, to the left on the Bohemian Grove trail, then up on the Hillside trail, back down across bridge 4 and back through the main park avenue along the Redwood Creek trial.
Even though it is a short drive outside of the city, as soon as you walk in amongst the trees the sounds fade to the background. It is so quiet that any spoken word sounds like a shout. Every time we heard people chattering we were tempted to act like library shushers…we did not give in to that temptation.
Hillside Trail lives up to its name. While it is not a steep climb, the trail does move a bit away from the main trail. In some places you can look down and see the main trail.
For perspective, here’s a view looking up at Hillside Trail.
Both Hillside trail and the main Redwood Creek Trail are well maintained and easily to walk and hike.
We got to bridge 4 and turned back along the main trail. As the map says this makes for about a 2 mile loop, 1.5 to 2 hours depending on how casually you stroll…or how many times you stop to sit on a bridge, breathe in the fresh air and just take it all in
We didn’t get off the trail much this time. There were lots of warning signs about wasps attacks on certain branch trails.
The main trail is, as one would expect, wider and busier, and with just as much to see as the hillside trail. The main attraction is Cathedral Grove, one of the largest groves in the park…and one where quiet is certainly requested.
One of our favorites is the plaque in remembrance of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The plaque reads:
Here in this grove of enduring redwoods, preserved for posterity, members of the United Nations Conference on International Organization met on May 19, 1945 to honor the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, thirty-first president of the United States, Chief Architect of the United Nations and apostle of lasting peace for all mankind.
Of course in Muir Woods, the trees are the main attraction, the natural blanket responsible for the muffling of all of the outside sounds. The trees here are mostly coastal redwoods, the tallest of all living things. The tallest of these in Muir Woods is 258 feet tall, with the oldest being 1200 years old. Most of the trees in the park are between 600 and 800 years old.
Below is a gallery of just a few views of these great trees, in groves, with knots on the side that look like people (!) and just looking up. Click on each picture for a larger view.
Originally published at Dusk Before the Dawn.