San Francisco To Do

Muir Woods - Ancient Redwood Forest

muir woods san francisco

Enter a Peaceful World of Wonder...

Hours: 8am to sunset every day Cost: $7/person + optional donations

Not Allowed: Bicycles, Pets, Horses, Smoking, Picnics, Camping, Portable Radios

Get away from the city and relax at the majestic redwood forest of Muir Woods. Muir Woods enchanting world is just a short coastal drive of less than an hour from downtown San Francisco, over the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge, and through the scenic Marin Headland Hills. The park is affordable and has trails for just about everyone, including wheelchair-accessible trails. Muir Woods provides a terrific opportunity to see some of the oldest, tallest most amazing trees in the country. It is one of the most popular San Francisco tourist attractions and its stunning beauty is a key reason that nearly one million people visit Muir Woods each year.

 

Muir Woods Trees

About The Redwoods

In California, there are two different species of redwood trees. The coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is what you will find in Muir Woods. Though most of old-growth coast redwoods have been logged, some are protected. You will find these protected redwoods in Redwood National and State Parks throughout Oregon and California. The forest at Muir Woods was spared because it was hard to access during the time that logging was running rampant.

The other species of redwood is the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum). This type grows larger in bulk but is less tall than the coast redwood. Giant sequoias can be seen in Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. The coast redwoods are the tallest living things. The Bohemian and Cathedral groves contain the biggest trees in Muir Woods - one 252 feet tall and one 14 feet wide! When you stand beneath the immense power of these trees and look up you can’t help but be awed by the amazing offerings of nature.

Most of these trees range in age of 800-1000 years old and some may be upwards of 1500 years in age. How are these coast redwoods able to get this old? The coast redwood has been able to mature and has survived fires due to the trees’ thick bark. The bark is spongy and fibrous and can range in thickness anywhere from 6 to 12 inches. The bark acts as insulation against fire damage and other erosion. The forest's long-term ecological wellbeing actually benefits from fires because it clears the floor of duff so redwood seeds can reach mineral soil. Additionally, the redwoods have high levels of tannic acid, which makes them very resistant to the rot that can affect other trees.

Muir Woods Hike

History of Muir Woods

The trees themselves are old but that’s not the only history that Muir Woods has to offer. Here are just a few of the fun facts that you’ll learn if you visit Muir Woods or research its history:

Muir Woods

 

Other Trees

People visit Muir Woods to see the amazing tall redwood trees of course. However, this area is rich in other amazing plant life as well. You can see Douglas Fir Treesm California Buckeyes, Red Alders, Coast Live Oaks, cedars, willows, junipers and many other broad-leaf evergreen trees and deciduous trees. You may also want to keep your eye out for wildlife including snakes, banana slugs, chipmunks, squirrels, and a wide variety of birds. Bring your camera!

Visiting Muir Woods Park

Muir Woods is open to visitors from 8 in the morning until sunset every day of the year. The visitor’s center closes about half an hour before the park shuts down. There is a charge of $7 per person to enter the state forest and you can make additional optional donations if you so choose. Children under age 16 are free. Entrance fees are waved on 12 dates of the year including National Park Week in April, National Public Lands Day on September 28th and Veterans Day Weekend.  People who have a National Parks pass get in to this park for free; a $20 Muir Woods Annual Pass is also available. 

There are three short self-guided walks that you can take as a Muir Woods visitor, ranging from 30 – 90 minutes in length along paved pathways. In fact there are six miles of paved, mostly level trails on the canyon floor of this 560-acre park. There are also a large number of other hikes to choose from along unpaved, more natural trails.  Muir Woods does not allow camping, horses or other pets or bicycling,

The redwoods reach for all the sun they can get, and the forest floor tends to be cool and damp. Make sure to dress a little warmer for the cool, shaded, moist area. Thanks to thick fog it can sometimes be very humid, though. As is always the case with San Francisco weather your best bet is to wear layers!

Muir Woods has a visitors center where you can pick up hiking trail maps and learn about some of the history of the area. It also has a gift shop, restrooms and a cafe with locally-sourced organic foods. They also offer a wide variety of different events that you can learn about in the visitors center or check out on the official Muir Woods website. There are daily short talks by guides and sometimes there are longer one-hour guided walking tours offered by Muir Woods staff.

Most people will choose to reach Muir Woods by car since it’s the most direct option and the trip is lovely. However, there are other options if you aren’t interested in San Francisco car rental. You can take a ferry from San Francisco to Sausalito, then take a bus connection although be forewarned that the trip can take a long time this way. Another option is to take a guided bus tour that goes from San Francisco to Muir Woods; this is a great way to learn a lot about the history of the area although the downside is that you’ll be on the schedule of your tour guide instead of your own schedule. If you want to get fancy you can also take a San Francisco limo to Muir Woods.

Muir Woods Redwood trees

Also In the Area

Muir Woods is a beautiful place to spend an entire day but there are also lots of other wonderful spots to see in this area. Some of the places you might want to check out while you’re in Muir Woods include:

 

The hustle and bustle of San Francisco offers a lot of excitement but don’t forget to take some downtime and enjoy the amazing nature of the surrounding area as well!

Map to Muir Woods:


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