I was excited to see Muir Woods this past July and experience the magic of the Redwoods again. When we had visited the Redwood National Park in 2011 it was one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had, and I will never forget getting out of the car to go on our first hike and the silence that surrounded me.
Muir Woods was entirely the opposite experience in every way. First, the parking lots are incredibly small and so parking turns into the side of the road for another mile or so and people need to hike back to the Visitor’s Center. When we left after our visit, there was no more parking along the side of the road. At the entrance, it was $7 a person to get through the gates. The Redwood NP is free to get into.
I’d like to think that it was so crowded and busy because we were there on a Friday in July. And so if that is the case, I would suggest finding a day when there is no one there. What really took the magic away from me were two things. The first was a man whistling and yelling at a deer so he could take a picture of it. This is not a zoo. Even if it was a zoo, you should never yell at a wild animal. The second thing was the sign that read, “enter quietly” into Cathedral Grove and people were ignoring the sign. To me, the enchantment of the Redwoods is the silence. So, for there to be no silence was disheartening.
Final thoughts? Do I sound like a Redwood snob? Probably. I think it’s always fascinating to see Redwoods. If you’ve never seen one, and you don’t think you’ll ever get up to Northern California, and you’re in the San Francisco area, by all means, go experience them. If you’ve been to the Redwood National Park and thoroughly enjoyed it, I’d say you can skip this one.
Muir Woods is a 560-acre park and includes six miles of trails. Although when I was there I was only aware of the main, canyon floor trails that are paved and were about a loop of a mile and a half. The unpaved trails out of the canyon connect to Mt. Tamalpais State Park.
If we had time, I would have loved to have also seen Point Reyes National Sea Shore not that far down the road.