Believe it or not, I have never actually done the paved tourist loop at Muir Woods National Monument. I have run across the parking lot along the Dipsea Trail and come down the Ben Johnson Trail only to turn up on the Camp Eastwood Trail. Serena has never seen Muir Woods either, so as part of an afternoon in the Marin Hills, we stopped at the park to see what over one million visitors see every year. True to form, the parking situation was a zoo and entirely inadequate to match the droves of tourists coming to the park. By the time we left, the line-up of cars hoping to snag a spot was over 1/4 mile up the hill! Fortunately, we found a spot along the road without too much trouble and began the loop of the famous old-growth grove along Redwood Creek.
It had rained the previous evening and the redwood forest felt particularly lush and refreshing. While the experience will inevitably be shared with others, particularly on weekends, I found the grove to be quite pleasant with a nice collection of large redwoods. It’s amazing such a beautiful place exists so close to the concrete streets and towers of San Francisco, and even more amazing that this stand of trees, so close to the industrial center, was protected from ravenous loggers. What remains is an excellent example of how many of the canyons along Central and Northern California looked before loggers arrived, all within a short drive from the man-made attractions in San Francisco. I’m also happy the park service “enclosed” the paved path with a wooden fence to prevent children and disrespectful visitors from trampling all over the redwood sorrel and fragile forest environment.
More photos after the jump!