I always thought the redwoods were off in some remote part of the Pacific Northwest. That may be, but there’s also a good-sized grove of these giants only 20 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Muir Woods National Monument is tucked into a valley along the aptly-named Redwood Creek. After checking the very limited displays in the visitors center, walk along the creek at least to Cathedral Grove to get a sense of the size and majesty of these big boys. The 0.8-mile-long main path is an easy, level walk. There are four bridges across Redwood Creek along the trail; people walk as far as they want, cross a bridge, and head back along the other side of the creek. The beauty of it is that, at each bridge, a high percentage of people cross over and head back, so once past bridge 3, it gets especially peaceful, allowing you to kick back and appreciate your surroundings.
Redwoods grow even taller than giant sequoias, but they’re thinner, with less bulk. Cathedral Grove has one tree that’s over 250 feet tall and another that’s 14 feet wide. Scientists report that most of the mature trees in Muir Woods are 500 to 800 years old, but some are more than 1,000 years old. That’s a lot of candles for any birthday cake!
Muir Woods is a short drive from downtown San Francisco and makes an attractive outdoor alternative to spending another day in the city. Take Route 101 north over the Golden Gate Bridge, exit onto Route 1 for Mill Valley, and follow the signs.