Bay Area Day Trips - Muir Woods National Monument

It's been 3 months since I moved to the Bay Area and have been loving every "other" minute of it i.e. excluding the minutes I miss my husband, our home and friends back in Phoenix. And I can't wait for my husband to move here and for the summer to arrive to start camping amidst these charmingly tall and imposingly beautiful redwood trees and exploring more of the enchanting outdoors. I think Bay Area is a paradise for all outdoor lovers and I won't blame people for getting lost on the road or crossing lanes unknowingly (like I once did ;) while staring at its beauty, especially on a drizzling day :) 

So, in between all the back and forth between Phoenix and Bay Area and while waiting for the summer to arrive, we managed a few day trips around the area - Muir Woods National Monument, Point Reyes National Seashore, Big Basin Redwood State Park, Sausalito and I hope the list grows and goes on.

Muir Woods is a coastal redwood forest, and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, located just 11 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Being so close to the city, it is usually crowded, nonetheless beautiful and serves as a great introduction to the redwood forests and giant sequoia trees that are typical in Californian state and national parks. With conveniently set up boardwalks, it is wheelchair and stroller accessible allowing everyone to enjoy this beautiful setting on a pleasant day.  For the more adventurous, there are hikes such as 'Dipsea Trail', a 9.5 mile round trip hike that begins with a forested trail and ends with magnificent ocean views, which I am looking forward to do one of these days. You will know when I do and will share the photographs with you :) For now, here are some pics of the 'Main Trail', an easy 2-mile walk in the Muir Woods.

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks ~ John Muir

Beautiful boardwalk in the 'Main Trail'

One of the bridges along the Trail

I did not think much of mushrooms, but could not help notice the variety and abundance of them in the Muir Woods area. I later learned that they connect up with the rootlets of trees, shrubs and almost all other green plants, greatly increasing the ability of trees and plants to take up water, and absorb essential minerals. In return, the fungus (mushroom) is provided with photosynthetic nutrients. Neither organism is able to function fully without the other, a great example of a symbiotic relationship.

Another interesting creature I saw for the first time in Muir Woods is a banana slug, about which I know nothing except that it got its name coz it looks like a ripe banana :D

Looks more slimy than like a banana!
For those planning to drive to Muir Woods on weekends and holidays, parking could be an issue due to the limited parking available at the Park entrance. An alternative is to park at an exit near highway 101 (take the Mill Valley exit) from where Muir Wood shuttle buses (from April to October on weekends and holidays) pick up people and drop them at the Park entrance for $5 round-trip per person. It might be a good idea to take the bus to avoid having to drive on the winding road to the Park Entrance and also avoid the parking hassle once you reach there.

Enjoy your walk in the Park! It is healthy and as John Muir said, you will get more than you asked for :)


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