Muir Woods is a park that is designated as a US National Monument. It lies in the hills on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, away from San Francisco. It opened up recently after being closed for COVID-19 and we decided to visit it for the July 4 long weekend.
Tickets for adults and vehicle parking have to be bought in advance online here. Children under 15 years go free. There is no cell service or wifi at the park, so remember to print out or download the booking receipt to your phone before you leave home.
The drive from Santa Clara to Muir Woods took about 1.5 hours on a Sunday morning. The curvy stretch to Muir Woods after the Golden Gate Bridge was a bit tricky and made the family queasy. (Maybe having a good breakfast before setting out was not such a good idea).
The main touristy trail here is the Redwood Creek Trail which takes you through all the redwoods and has informational boards and also a ranger ready to answer questions at one spot. There is a small quaint creek that runs along the trail. The Cathedral Grove on the trail is especially beautiful, where the redwoods up above cover up the sky, like a giant roof of a cathedral. While returning back we took the Hillside Trail which rides high above, looking down on the Redwood Creek Trail, midway among the redwoods. The whole route took about 1.5 hours.
The trees in this park are the coast redwood, the tallest living things on the planet and can live for 2000 years. They grow up to 115 meters high, that is about a 33 storey building. The coast redwoods in Muir Woods though are about 78 meters. (Giant sequoia the bulkier but shorter sibling of the coast redwood, which grow on the other side of the Sierra Nevada and can live for 3200 years!) Apparently, coast redwoods grew abundantly all along the Pacific coast, but were relentlessly logged by the European settlers. It is quite sad that these giants are only left in small parks like this today.
Muir Woods is a bit small, we found the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to be way bigger, with lots more taller redwoods. But for folks living in the Bay Area, Muir Woods is definitely a place to visit, especially with kids.