Our Honeymoon Adventures: Muir Woods National Monument
"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. "-John Muir
Before my visit to Muir Woods National Monument, I was unaware of the name John Muir. After my visit, I will never forget it. John Muir is the man that we have to thank for the early preservation of much our nation’s natural beauty.
Muir was born in Scotland in 1838, and then in 1849, along with his family, he immigrated to the United States. As he grew up, Muir became fascinated with nature, along with humanity’s effect on it. Throughout his lifetime, Muir worked tirelessly to conserve and protect natural areas. He also worked to educate others on the importance of environmental conservation.
Muir is credited with creating the National Park System and the Sierra Club, as well as with the establishment of several national parks and recreation areas. (Ever heard of a little place called Yosemite National Park?)
In 1908, United States Congressman William Kent donated a 295-acre tract of land in Mill Valley, California to the federal government. While he could have sold the land for a profit, he chose to donate it in an effort of preservation. Soon after, President Theodore Roosevelt declared this land a national monument. At Kent’s request, it was named for naturalist John Muir.
Today, Muir Woods National Monument spans more than 550 acres at the base of Mount Tamalpais. Featuring more than 6 miles of trails, massive, old-growth, coast redwood trees, and a portion of Redwood Creek, this park is a nature lover’s dream come true.
The tallest tree at Muir Woods is about 258 feet, and most of the trees are between 500-800 years old.
Visitors are politely asked to remain quiet while exploring, and it makes a big difference. With this effort, the Muir Woods forest remains serene and inviting. (Mostly - there are kids here, so a little noise is to be expected, but for the most part, we barely heard them!) I think it helped that we visited later in the day - fewer people, less noise, etc.
If you’re thinking of visiting the Muir Woods, just do it! Consider going on a weekday, first thing in the morning or later in the evening. This way you'll have a better shot at finding parking, and you’ll avoid the afternoon crowds. I’d also recommend bringing water and a snack. The trails range from super simple to pretty tough, but either way, you’ll work up an appetite! (There is a cafe on-site, but it was closed while I was there, so I can’t recommend it.) To be honest, though, that was the last thing on my mind as I made my way around the beautiful park. I had a bottle of water and my husband by my side, and that was all that I needed.
Walking quietly beneath the canopy of the redwoods, bigleaf maples, Douglas firs, California bay laurels, and tanoaks, it is easy to see the value that William Kent and President Roosevelt saw in this place. The sound of the breeze rustling through the trees, the chirping and calling of birds overhead, and the gentle babbling of Redwood creek - These peaceful noises are the soundtrack to the Muir Woods, inviting you to breathe deeply and stay for a while.
As an added bonus, we decided to stop at Muir Beach Overlook before heading back to our hotel. I couldn't be happier that we did. With just a short walk, we made it to what felt like the edge of the earth.
If you're in the area, be sure to leave enough time for this stop! You'll be glad you did!