Founded in 1908, Muir Woods National Park is a popular attraction about 30 minutes north of San Francisco. It's one of the only places in the world where you can still see Coastal Redwood trees.
This species of redwoods is a close relative to the Giant Sequoias (which you can find a few hours south of SF). The Coastal Redwoods thrive in this area due to its cool, foggy climate all year long.
The average age of the trees here is between 600 to 800 years old - with the oldest one around 1,200 years old. This forest is still relatively young, as redwood trees can live for up to 2,200 years.
One of the best things about visiting this park is that the redwoods are easy to access. You encounter the trees the minute you enter the park.
The main wooden walking paths are also flat, wide and well maintained. This makes Muir Woods National Park easy to explore for almost everyone.
Along the main wooden trails, you will also get the chance to learn more about these rare trees. Every few feet, you will find educational signs and displays.
One of my favorites is this display that shows the growth pattern for a 1,000+ year old redwood.
The inner circle shows that it started growing around 909 A.D.
The outer circle shows important dates in US history, so you get a sense for the types of events that happened during this tree's life. The final marking shows the date when the tree fell.
How tall are these trees? According to the National Park Service, the tallest redwood currently in Muir Woods National Park is around 258 feet tall.
These pictures give you a sense of their height.
You will find two miles of flat trails in the canyon area of the park. This includes four bridges, so you can easily loop around the park to see a number of these gorgeous trees.
Most people follow one of the three main looping trails mentioned below. The estimated times listed include time to stop along the way to read the signs and take pictures. I also included the total distance, so you get a sense of what is included with each loop.
In addition to the flat, wooden walking paths, there are also several great hiking paths within the park. The 560-acre park has a total of 6 miles of trails. The four additional miles are unpaved routes that take you up the hills.
Once you reach the edges of the park, many of these trails link up with longer trails on Mount Tamalpais. If you want to learn more about these routes, you can pick up a hiking map at the entrance to Muir Woods National Park.
On the eastern side of the main trail, near Bridge 1, you will find the restrooms, a gift shop and a small cafe. It's the perfect place to relax or fuel up either before or after your hikes.
There is another set of restrooms and a small gift shop at the park entrance.
Admission to the park is $10 for adults 16 years and older. Everyone 15 and under gets in free.
Free admission days in 2016 are:
The park is open every day of the year at 8am including holidays. It closes based on the season and when the sun goes down. This is the schedule for 2016:
Many people opt to take a tour to Muir Woods National Park. This saves you the hassle of renting a car for the day. It also means you don't have to fight for parking, which is really bad here on the weekends and during the busy summer months.
Since Muir Woods isn't that far from SF, most people stop in Sausalito either before or after their visit. This tour combines a trip to both. It also includes a 60-minute narrated cruise around the bay.
If you want to visit both Muir Woods and California's Wine Country, then this second tour is the one I'd recommend for you. This full day tour lasts around 9 hours and is full of activities.
The next best option to get to Muir Woods National Park is to drive. It's a quick and easy drive across the Golden Gate Bridge through Marin County.
If you go on your own, I highly recommend getting to the park as early as possible. Parking right near the entrance is limited. There is parking along the road, but at times, you have to park more than a mile away from the entrance.
You can rent a car directly in San Francisco. This means you can easily pick it up and drop it off on the same day (and not have to worry about SF parking fees!).
A seasonal Muir Woods shuttle runs on weekend and holidays between May and October. It picks up in Sausalito near the ferry terminal.
It also runs every day between mid-June and mid-August.
The cost is $5 per person for a round trip ticket. You will pay for your ride at the Muir Woods National Park entrance gate along with your admission fee for the park.
Once you board the bus for the return trip, you show the driver your ticket.
Fees for the shuttle are not waived on free admission days into the park. You will still need to pay the $5 shuttle fee per person.
I recommend wearing layers during your visit here. It's often cool, foggy and moist in the mornings and warmer in the afternoons.
However, don't let the pure temperature fool you. The tall tress block the sun, so even on a warm day, it might still be cool in the park.
Here are some average temps to help you plan for your visit:
You will also want to prepare for rain between late October and late March.
I also recommend wearing comfortable, flat shoes. Even though the walkways are wooden, the parking lots are dirt.
You will also be happy with comfortable shoes if you end up having to walk down the gravel roads to get to the park entrance.
in the Presidio