Muir Woods National Monument
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Muir Woods is a national park located in Marin County. Muir Woods is named after a famous naturalist, botanist and conservationist John Muir, who lived about 100 years ago. The Muir Woods forest is one of Bay Area's last untouched old redwood forests. Congressman William Kent and his wife Elizabeth Kent, purchased the land bordering Redwood Creek in 1905, and granted it to the federal government, naming it after John Muir, and keeping the land's natural beauty preserved and intact.
Muir Woods trails are here to this day, offering a great variety of hikes, views and adventures for all people. There are hikes over 10 miles long and some hikes that are just short strolls. There are hilly slopes and straight walks. All the hikes are surrounded by unbelievable nature and beautiful redwoods that are unique to the Bay Area. There are many groups getting together for regular week or weekend hikes on the many different trails and hikes in Muir Woods. The woods feature many well known spots as well as some hidden gems. Some of the known attractions are Fern Creek, Dipsea trails, climbs high above Redwood Creek, and visiting Mt. Tamalpais State Park.
We currently do not have any record of trailheads in this park.
Routes and Trails You Can Travel
We currently do not have any record of good routes in this park.
The initial hike in Muir Woods begins with a scenic, simply yet charming nature trail displaying gigantic redwood trees. The entrance trail leads to a walk by a small and pleasant creek where children are often seen playing little games. This part of Muir Woods has no hills, is accessible to everyone, and isn't far from entrance and most of civilization. There is about half a mile of relaxing strolling by the little creek to the beginning of the redwood forests with some of the gigantic trees becoming more frequent as the hikers approach the Bootjack trail which is really the beginning of real adventurous hiking. Before the trails begin, there are a few points of interest.
After leaving the entrance area and the Interpretive trail, and heading along the Bootjack trails, there is about a mile of of paths where there are still many tourists and children, just having a nice afternoon. As you keep walking and advancing through the forests, there will be less people along your way, and you will feel more and more engulfed by the redwood forest. As you walk along the trail you will find yourself unable to see too far in any direction because of the enormous and seemingly ancient trees.
Yet somehow, the hike isn't intimidating, but rather quite relaxing and almost spiritual due to the quiet surrounding, with the only sounds made by your feet, and the wind rustling the tall branches.
There are plenty of great places along the trails to stop and enjoy lunch (if you brought it) right in the forest. After about a mile, the path leads to a small meadow with a large rock, which is kind of a surprise due to the sudden appearance of this little enclave. It is a good place to take a break and move onto the next trails.
The Ben Johnson trail is known for being a bit challenging and is great for enthusiastic hikers. The very steep Johnson trail winds through the foggy woodlands to a windy ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean all the way into the vast nothingness of the ocean as far as the eye can see across the ocean to the Farallon Islands. The ridge traces the border of the redwood forest and the grassland down the coastline. Looking in the other direction, the ridge has breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands to even downtown San Francisco.
The Hillside Trail is a more rustic route through Muir Woods. Plus there are no hills to climb, which is often a plus and contributes to a pleasant hike. The trail is unpaved and is a little bit of a road less traveled in the world of Muir Woods hikes. More savvy hikers prefer this rout because you can gaze through the forest and add some unique views to the experience in addition to the ubiquitous redwoods.
Though the trail is easy as there are no large ascents or descents, but the terrain is at times rough, so wear heavy boots if you are going to venture out on this hike. Hikers have to be careful where and how they step because it is easy to twist an ankle or trip along the way - and there aren't many people there to help, so please use caution.
The Fern Creek hike is takes sightseers on great redwood forest paths that leaves the crowded Muir Woods floor to explore Fern Canyon and Camp Alice Eastwood. There are many hillside hiking trails like Mt. Tamalpais trails that wind along the floor of a beautiful, virgin redwood forest.
Climate and Weather
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John Muir is often cited for his famous quote that "in every walk in nature, one receives much more than he sees." While the quote's meaning is a bit mysterious, what John Muir was pointing out is that there is a lot of signs that the nature and the forest gives us. We get a lot of communication from the forest in little, subtle signs.
Muir Woods is home to many species of birds, animals, flowers and obviously the large redwood trees. Hikers can often spot deer and squirrels while hiking on trails. A popular bug that is often spotted on the trails is the Banana Slug which is common in coastal environments along the Pacific Ocean.
Muir Woods has a unique climate which allows the growth of gigantic Redwood trees. There is just the right mixture of rainfall, sunlight and fog to enable these trees to grow. Additionally, because the redwood trees are so gigantic, they create mini habitats underneath and around them, with intertwining root systems, nearby vegetation and wildlife. A popular little plant is the Redwood Sorel and it looks like a 3-leaf clover.
The Redwood Sorel's leaves close up if it happens to be in sunlight. It is a plant that thrives in reduced sunlight and living under the giant redwoods is perfect for it. The root systems of the redwood trees are also quite unusual. They have unusually shallow roots that spread much wider than other trees. By spreading wide, they begin to intertwine with the roots of other nearby trees, thus being stronger together.
The weather in the area can be extreme for the trees. There is 8 months of moisture and rain, and there is also about 4 months of arid weather. Often the trees get their water from the creeks nearby, but also the redwood trees get a lot of their water from the fog, of which there is so much in the Bay Area.
So for people who complain about the fog, keep in mind that the fog plays a large role in keeping the redwood forests alive. Because of the year-round fog, the redwood trees are able to live particularly in the Bay Area. They can grow to about 30 miles inland, potentially as far as Oakland or Berkeley, and as far down as the Big Sur around Santa Cruz.
One of the talles trees in the park is the Gifford Pinchot Tree which stands at about 250 feet high. It isn't the tallest California tree. The tallest California tree is about 100 feet more, a few hours north of Muir Woods. The Gifford Pinchot tree is named after a man named Gifford Pinchot who was the first head of the United States forest service. Gifford Pichot was a conservationist and he felt that we should do our best to sustain the wildlife that we have. Gifford Pinchot went to college with a man named William Kent who had a dream for parks like Muir Woods, which preserve the national wildlife of America. William Kent purchased the land which is now Muir Woods with the last of his remaining fortune in 1905.
Even over 100 years ago, the redwood forests were disappearing all over the state and not growing back with nearly the speed with which they were being cut down. During the 1906 earthquake, many residents of San Francisco were left homeless and there was a need for wood to build homes. People wanted to cut down the Muir Woods redwoods, but after a long battle, William Kent, Gifford Pinchot and even Theodore Roosevelt agreed to save the forests and Muir Woods became a national monument and was not allowed to be cut down.
Sausalito, California 94965
Notes: parking is available for free and there are no picnic tables.