San Francisco, California
We had visited San Francisco multiple times (here, here and here!) and still did not make the trip to the famous Muir Woods. Since my brother was moving to New York soon and our free place to stay in San Francisco was on its last leg, we focused this trip on knocking out the bucket list items for the San Francisco area.
Early one morning, we called a car to take us roughly 20 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge through the windy mountain side to the entrance of the Muir Woods.
While we could tell the first parking lot was already full at our arrival at 9AM, it did not feel crowded. We asked for advice on the most scenic trail, since we allotted a few hours to hike, and we were told to take the Canopy Trail (while warned for guests getting stung by wasps/yellow jacket) would be best for us.
We spent two hours admiring the massive redwoods that surrounded us. The Canopy Trail took us high above the ground level where we could get sweeping views of the redwoods. Of the three types of redwoods, the ones that reside in The Muir Woods are the coast redwoods, the tallest of the redwood species. Some areas you could really image the scenes from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi being staged here (ewoks!). We also learned some fun facts about the trees!
- While coast redwoods can get over 300 feet tall and over 25 feet wide, their roots only go up to 12 feet below the ground but extend out over 50 feet wide to support its height by intertwining with neighboring redwoods’ roots
- Redwoods get over 50% of their daily water supply from the fog, which is why they thrive in the bay area, and collect the fog through their canopy leaves and needles that allow the water to drip from the top of the tree all the way down to the ground floor
- The red tint that gives the redwoods their namesake comes from the presence of tannins (yes, the ones found in wine)
- The tannins are a natural insect repellent and since there are little insects around the trees, birds do not congregate in redwood forest very frequently
- The bark of the trees retain moisture that protect the tree from brush fires
- These trees date back to the dinosaur age (some redwoods are over 2000 years old)!
The entire park was beautiful and I wish we had more time to explore more of the map!
As warned, we had no service when we decided to call a car to come pick us up. The crowd at the entrance had multiplied dramatically and the traffic jam around the parking lots was way out of hand. Holding our phones up and walking around as if we were searching the sky with a metal detector, we eventually grabbed a weak signal that allowed us to open the app to call the car. While it took the car awhile to get us- which was a given since the traffic around the park was insane- we were lucky to have a wildly entertaining car driver that took us back to the city. Before you cross the Golden Gate Bridge, make a pit stop at Golden Gate Vista Point for one of the best views of the bridge and San Francisco.
Recommend getting to the Muir Woods early to beat the crowd and get a reasonable parking spot. If you are not driving, they are not kidding with the warning of “no cell phone service” at the park so plan accordingly. This is certainly a must see in the San Francisco area and is easily a repeat visit destination. There are so many hiking trails to explore!