Friday, May 20, 2016

Muir Woods National Monument, 5/16/2016

Determined to see Muir Woods while we are in the San Francisco area, we tried once again to visit the historic groves of huge coastal redwood trees here. We went on a Monday morning and did find a parking space along the road as the three parking lots were already full. Dogs are not permitted here, so we left Sadie in a shaded area with the windows down, plenty of water, and a nice breeze. 

There is a Visitor Center near the entrance where you pay the entrance fee of $10/person. Of course, our Senior Pass gets us in for free. There is a small gift shop here, several exhibits about the coast redwood forests, and park rangers are available to answer questions or provide advice about the various hiking trails. Near the first bridge is the cafe and gift shop.

In 1905, William and Elizabeth Kent (friends of renowned naturalist, John Muir) bought the land here to protect this last uncut redwood stand in the area from the logging business. They subsequently donated it to the federal government. President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed it a national monument in 1908. Kent, a member of the US House of Representatives, introduced legislation creating the National Park Service

We decided to walk the 2-mile loop trail through the woods. The lower section is paved and after crossing the 4th bridge, the trail rises above the creek and is a well-maintained dirt trail. 

These redwoods (sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest trees in the world and closely related to the giant sequoia. The giant sequoias are not as tall but are thicker and weigh much more than the redwoods. Here are some redwood stats:
  • 379' = height
  • 2,000 years = age
  • 22' = trunk diameter
  • 12" = bark thickness
The redwoods grow along a 500-mile coastal strip from Big Sur, CA, to southern Oregon. Heavily logged, the remaining groves are here and in Redwoods National Park (north of here). They reproduce by growing sprouts from burls (where a tree has been damaged). This often creates a "family circle" of mature trees. This is a less tenuous means of reproduction than trees that grow from seedlings (like the giant sequoia).

The Redwood Creek runs through the center of the park providing nourishment for the groves of trees as well as wildlife in the area. 

The upper path was less crowded and afforded beautiful views of the redwoods from a different vantage point than the lower paved path. 

Shade-loving undergrowth (ferns, moss, etc.) grow in abundance on the forest floor. 

We had the same sense of serenity and awe among these majestic trees that we experienced in giant sequoia groves in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. There is a reverence in these groves of enduring giant trees. Loved it.

For additional information about hours of operation, parking, and history of Muir Woods, check it out online. 


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