Why Muir Woods Needs to Be Added to Your San Francisco Bucket List
Just beyond the steel bridge of the Golden Gate and the Victorians of San Francisco, lie 554 acres of protected, untouched Sequoia sempervirens, otherwise known as coastal redwoods. These trees range from 400-to-800 years old and can grow up to 250 feet high, which can make for a spectacular Instagram photo or two. Whether you are an adventure-seeker, an avid photographer or you want to just do what comes naturally, Muir Woods is the perfect addition to your San Francisco trip - whether it's your first or fifth, it never fails to be memorable in every way.
Named after John Muir, the famous naturalist who founded the Sierra Club, Muir Woods National Monument is "the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world" -words from no other than Muir himself. Originally purchased by William and Elizabeth Kent to preserve its natural beauty, the forest was protected in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt. Today, Muir Woods National Monument is home to several tree species, more than 50 species of birds and a critical spawning and rearing habitat for several threatened species, including coho or silver salmon.
THINGS TO DO
Hiking trails vary in the level of difficulty and distance, but regardless, you are sure to see gorgeous vistas and be among century-old trees. Here are a few trails:
- The Main Trail (2 miles) - The most popular trail follows a stream along a canyon lined with redwoods.
- The Sun Trail (4.7 miles) - Offering a little more variety than the Main Trail, the Sun Trail leads to the Tourist Club, a chalet-style building that doubles as a beer garden and has superb views of the redwood-covered valley below.
- The Ben Johnson Trail (5.2 miles) - A loop perfect for an all-day hike.
There are plenty of tours available if you want to take in the scenic beauty in a group. Here are the tours that go there:
Extranomical Tours is a sightseeing company leading unique tours to the most popular tourist destinations in San Francisco and the Bay Area, as well as some lesser known but equally exciting places most people don't get to see, including Muir Woods National Monument and Sausalito. www.extranomical.com
Tower Tours of San Francisco has been a most popular sightseeing tour company for more than 20 years. They feature the sights of beautiful San Francisco and surrounding area destinations including Muir Woods and Sausalito. www.towertours.com
The Tourist Club
What's a national monument without a beer garden? Nestled at the end of the Sun Trail, the Tourist Club is a famous private club that offers a snack bar and overnight accommodations to its members. Although it's private, on "guest weekends" (typically the first weekend of the month), non-members can stop here, buy a beer and relax on the lower deck.
Regardless of what you do at the Muir Woods, please keep in mind that there is no cell phone service in Muir Woods; make prior arrangements with your taxi or rideshare service for pickup.
HOW TO GET TO MUIR WOODS NATIONAL MONUMENT
The best mode of transportation is by car; however, there is limited parking (check out alternatives such as Lyft or the Muir Woods shuttle). Cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Take Highway 101 North just past the last Sausalito off ramp and exit at the Highway 1 off-ramp, then follow the signs. Tip: Arrive very early or late in the day. The park opens every day at 8 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m. (after March 18). Most visitors come in the middle of the day. To avoid crowds, arrive before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m. The entrance fee it $10 with a portion supporting Mt Tamalpais State Park.