This past Sunday, a few friends and I headed out to Muir Woods National Monument for a quick day hike. In the four years I’ve been living in the Bay Area, this was the first time I’d ventured out to this popular local getaway… but it won’t be the last.
Be warned: the road to the trailhead is long and winding, with perilous, unguarded drop-offs. Turn on the air, keep your gaze level (if you’re a passenger, don’t be a fool like me and try to browse your smartphone!) and take a Dramamine if you must. Since this is a tourist favorite, you may get caught behind a slow-moving tour bus or two. Likewise, the parking lot can get a bit crowded, but we were able to find a spot quickly. There’s also a small entrance fee ($7 for adults), although we had a National Park Pass that granted our group free access.
After such a hectic few weeks, I can’t even begin to describe how re-energizing it was to enter Muir Woods. The air was so pure and refreshing; the lushness so invigorating. I felt as though my eyes had been starved for the colors of nature — as though they were eating up all these different sights. We walked along the boardwalk for a short distance, observing the beautiful quiet of Cathedral Grove, before arriving at less developed trail heads. Our plan was to do a loop by taking Fern Creek, Lost, and Ocean View Trails, but we had to turn back at the last after discovering it was closed. Regardless, our hike took us up quite a distance; unprotected by the forest canopy, we could hear and see the wind whooshing around the tree tops. Dre, my dear friend (and newly registered yogini!), had the brilliant idea that we pause for five minutes at the top of our hike to simply be. Looking out at the classic Californian landscape before me, I felt myself really winding down and re-centering. It was a lovely moment.
Our hike concluded in an hour and a half, though I would’ve loved to stay. Next time, I’ll be back to sit at the charming cafe located near the Visitor Center. Nothing sounds better than sitting among the redwoods in autumn, sipping on a cup of hot chocolate.
Muir Woods National Monument
1 Muir Woods Road
Mill Valley, CA 94941