Muir Woods is one of the most beautiful parks in California and is just 15 minutes from bustling San Francisco.
Muir Woods National Monument is one of the most popular day hike locations just outside of San Francisco. It is only 12 miles from the city. It was known as Redwood Canyon, named after the area’s Redwood Sea. These trees are not as big as the sequoias but are themselves massive.
The Muir Woods takes its name from John Muir, a naturalist. It is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, with hiking trails extending to nearby places like Mount Tamalpais. It’s the perfect daytime getaway for those who need a quick getaway from the city. As an added bonus, mobile phone and Wi-Fi services are quite weak in the area, forcing visitors to really go offline and enjoy everything in the moment.
Climate at Muir Woods
Muir Woods is near the Pacific Ocean. For this reason, it is constantly surrounded by fog, having a humid environment most of the year. Summers tend to be dry, while winters usually have heavy rain. The average daily temperature change between 40F and 70F.
The flora and fauna that can be found
The humid environment promotes the growth of redwoods and other plants in the park. These trees are called Coastal Redwoods (a relative of the Giant Redwood). They are not as big as redwoods but are massive in their own right. Most of the trees in Muir Woods are at least 500 years old. Other trees that you will find in the area are Bigleaf Maple and Tanoak.
The Muir Woods has its fair share of animals. It is a site for two endangered and threatened salmon species: coho salmon (silver salmon) and rainbow trout. They spawn in Redwood Creek between the months of December to February. Some of the famous birds in the woods are the northern wrinkled woodpeckers and spotted owls.
Watch out for animals that may hide on the sidelines when you hike: American shrews, mule deer, Sonoma chipmunks, western gray squirrels, and white-tailed deer. There are different species of bats that (of course) hide during the day and therefore cannot be seen. Those planning to go in the morning, once the park is open, will need to bring binoculars!
Muir Woods has a total of 6 miles of hiking trails. Some of the trails are asphalt or plank, which makes walking relatively easy and safer. More difficult trails are more difficult, with steep climbs and rough terrain. Ask the visitor about trail closures. Watch out for ticks and poison oak!
Here are the trails:
- Main trail loop – Bridge 2 (0.5 miles)
- Main trail loop – Bridge 3 (1 mile)
- Main trail loop – Bridge 4 (2 miles)
- Canopy view – Lost Creek – Fern Loop (3 miles)
- Fern cry – Camp Alice Eastwood Loop (3 miles)
- Ben Johnson Trail – 4 miles – view of Mount Tamalpais (4 miles)
- Canopy view – Redwood – Sun Trail – Dipsea Loop (5 miles)
- Muir Wood – Muir beach (6 km)
- Stinson Beach – Dipsea Trail (10 miles)
Activities at Muir Woods
Visitors should check the park’s schedule board which has activity announcements as these may vary each day.
- Guided tours – park rangers run hour-long guided tours where they talk about the history and development of Muir Woods and other related topics such as the impact of climate change and current conservation efforts in the park
- Talks tree – 15-minute conferences led by rangers on the trees of the park.
- Salmon spawning – during the winter, coho and rainbow salmon head to Redwood Creek to spawn the next generation of their species. Coho salmon comes from December to January, while rainbow salmon comes from January to February.
Other nearby sites
In addition to the hiking trails, visitors can visit the sites listed below. Keep in mind that these close 1 hour after sunset.
- Muir Beach
- View of Muir beach
- Stinson Beach
Additional information about the Muir Woods tour
When should we go
Muir Woods National Monument experiences the highest foot traffic from April to October (late spring to early fall), as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.
- Muir Woods National Monument is open daily, including holidays, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Admission fees : $ 15 (adults), free (children 15 and under)
- Annual pass: $ 45 for 12 months. Allows entry for the pass holder and 3 people (16+)
Muir Wood National Monument is accessible via different modes of transportation. The park charges a parking fee for those bringing private cars. Reservation is required to control vehicle traffic per vehicle.
- Private vehicles $ 8.50 – standard vehicle, $ 30 – medium vehicle, $ 45 – large vehicles
The shuttle service operates in season: weekends, public holidays and summer season. Reservations must be made through this site. The shuttle has three pick-up locations: Sausalito, Marin City, and Phono Park and Ride.
Food and drink in the park
Muir Woods Café is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. approximately. It has an outdoor dining area where visitors can take a break. The coffee uses local and sustainable ingredients. Order their bestseller, the Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($ 7.50) with Tomato Soup ($ 0.90).
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