Our final full day in California brings us to Muir Woods National Monument. Unfortunately, my contracting the flu cut our visit short. Visiting this forest was the primary attraction to Mill Valley, but I couldn’t wait to leave. Unbeknownst to me, I had a 103 degree fever that morning which made my visit miserable. Everything hurt that morning, and it was taxing to even look upward to admire the redwoods. Despite that, Muir Woods is incredibly beautiful and enchanting, and I look forward to going again.
- Visiting Muir Woods by vehicle requires a parking reservation. This is to schedule your arrival time.
- The drive to the park is very steep with sharp curves. Drive carefully!
- Winter is the rainy season. Prepare by bringing umbrellas, parkas and covers to protect your photography gear.
- The park does not allow pets.
- The forest contains 6 miles of trails.
- Paved and boardwalked trails makes Muir Woods very accessible to visitors. The upper trails are dirt and contain many tree roots, making them less accessible.
- Muir Woods is a place of quiet solitude. There is an air of reverence there.
- The thick redwood canopy keeps the ground level cool, moist and dark. I recommend bringing a light jacket, even if it is a warm day.
Ecosystem & History
Muir Woods is classified as an “old growth coastal redwood forest“. This means that the forest has existed without significant ecological disturbance, allowing for increased biodiversity. The forest protects 554 acres of land, nearly half of which is covered by Sequoia coastal redwood trees. The area is often shrouded in fog due to its close proximity to the ocean, leaving it rich with moisture during much of the year. The forest provides an ecosystem for many diverse flora, but fewer species of mammals and birds. This is due to a general lack of insect life in the forest, a result of the thick forest canopy.
Originally inhabited by the Coast Miwok and Ohlone tribes, the Bay Area received Spanish settlers in the late 1700’s. As Spanish colonization introduced new diseases and religious indoctrination began to eradicate tribal culture, many tribe members left the area or converted to Christianity, leaving their customs behind.
Protected from the logging industry through its private purchase by U.S. Congressman William Kent, the forest was later declared a National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1908. This was the first instance in which a privately owned piece of land had been donated for preservation under national monument protection. Declining the offer to have the forest named after himself, Kent would suggest to the President that the forest be named after famed naturalist John Muir.
Because of my sickness our stay at Muir Woods was unfortunately short. I wanted to explore the upper trails so badly, and we had to scrap our planned hike to Stinson Beach via the Dipsea Trail. After a visit to an urgent care facility and sleeping through the rest of the day, we returned home to St. Louis. Muir Woods is truly an incredible, peaceful place and I look forward to returning to better appreciate its splendor.
Thank you for reading along! This concludes my recap of our first honeymoon trip to San Francisco. Look out for a write up of our second honeymoon adventure to Cabo San Lucas, next Spring.