Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods: Walking among the giant coast redwoods

April 21, 2010, 3:10 pm

Muir Woods National Monument offers a quiet sanctuary in a growing urban setting. Known for its giant old growth stand of coast redwood trees, people from all over the world come to visit this special ecosystem.

Even though it is located just 11 miles north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods has an otherworldly air about it. Within minutes of crossing the bridge out of the city, visitors find themselves on roads that wind through the wild forests and coastal environments of Golden Gate Natural Recreation Area,  one of the largest urban national parks in the world.

Muir Woods, a national monument created in honor of naturalist John Muir, is located within Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The area was preserved thanks to landowner William Kent, who purchased the land to help protect the coast redwood trees found there. He donated the land to the federal government and requested that it be named for noted conservationist John Muir. On January 9, 1908, with just the stroke of a pen, President Theodore Roosevelt used the powers of the Antiquities Act to create Muir Woods National Monument.

In response to the monument created in his name, Muir said, "This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world."          

Albeit small, the monument truly is a tree-lover’s paradise. Six miles of walking and hiking trails weave through the shade of the big trees. A popular loop trail offers three places to turn around, making it easy to experience the beauty of the redwoods, even during a short visit. The half-hour, one hour, and one-and-a-half-hour loop options allow visitors to get up close to the old-growth coast redwoods, the tallest living things in the world. A network of hiking trails also extends into surrounding parks.

In addition to the towering redwoods, visitors also get a chance to learn about other plants and animals that call the forest home, including tanoak trees, ferns, redwood sorrel, stellar jays, black-tailed deer and banana slugs.

While it is against park rules to take any souvenirs from the park, books and gifts are available for purchase from the park bookstore, located in the visitor center, or the gift shop. A café sells snacks and refreshments.

The park is open every day of the year, including holidays, from 8 a.m. to sunset. Visitor center, gift shop, bookstore and café hours vary. Call (415) 388-2595 for recorded park information or (415) 388-2596 to reach park headquarters.


This is a wonderful side trip when visiting the San Francisco area.  We visited as part of our sightseeing tour and wished we had more time to enjoy the beauty and peace.