The dynamism of the Bay Area, a thriving urban population living smackdab in some of the most pristine natural settings in the country, can make it very difficult to plan a trip. In other words, when one visits the Bay Area, planning revolves on not what to do, but what not to miss. We'll make it easy for you: no matter what time of year you visit San Francisco, and no matter how long you plan to spend here, any Bay Area trip should definitely include Muir Woods. Muir Woods — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
What makes Muir Woods worth the short trip over the Golden Gate Bridge is simple: there's no other place like it. Although the California coast used to be covered with these majestic trees, besides a few in Oregon, Muir Woods is the only place to walk among a full grove of these giants. Sheltered in a valley from gusty Pacific winds, but watered by a healthy dose of fog and rain, these trees were protected by the Kent family and then donated in 1908 to the federal government.
The Kents wanted to ensure that future generations could walk under their mighty boughs and be awestruck at what nature could accomplish if left alone. Or, as John Muir put it when he learned the forest would be named after him, "This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world."Muir Woods — Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Muir Woods makes for a perfect day trip from San Francisco. Although there are only six miles of trails within the immediate area of Muir Woods, for those avid hikers, all of Point Reyes National Seashore is close by, as well as Mt. Tam and Muir Beach. A recently renovated boardwalk throughout the main trails allows walkers of all ages and abilities to spend time in Muir Woods. With over 800,000 visitors a year, if you're visiting on a summer weekend, try to reach the woods early to avoid traffic delays.
If you come later from San Francisco, watch for signs along the highway noting whether or not the parking lot is full; if it is, shuttles will be available to take you to and from your car. And be sure to check the Muir Woods website for park ranger history talks and walks, as well as scheduled events for children.
Muir Woods — Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Muir Woods offers a memorable visit for every type of traveler. Honeymooners can walk hand in hand and think of the timelessness of these trees; parents can offer a living classroom for their children; and those traveling alone can experience the serenity and tranquility that the namesake of these woods so adored.