Muir Woods

Redwood Creek, taken from a foot bridge.
Redwood Creek, taken from a foot bridge.

Sadly, this is a non-Abby post because we decided to take a day trip to Muir Woods National Monument. We have been around Muir Woods on previous trips, but never managed to visit. The land that became Muir Woods was purchased by William Kent, a local businessman, and his wife Elizabeth Thatcher Kent in 1905. This land included one of the last uncut stands of redwoods and was donated to the federal government. In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the area a national monument under the power of the 1906 Antiquities Act, and was named to honor John Muir, conservationist. Flora includes coast redwoods; shade-loving undergrowth, such as sword ferns, mosses, redwood sorrell; and wildflowers – trillium, clintonia, and redwood violet. Fauna include spotted owls, bats, raccoons, deer, birds (warblers, thrushes, Pacific wrens, Stellar’s jays), banana slugs, Sonoma chipmunks, and western gray squirrels.

Our parking spot in Muir Woods. Normally, we wouldn’t park next to this guy, but spots were at a premium. Car on the other side didn’t actual encroach into our space, but was parked on the line. Jess let Dave and Alex out of the car, parked, and then climbed out the rear hatch.

Our initial plan was to drive down after lunch so the trip would coincide with Alex’s nap. After reading the National Park Service’s tips for a visit, we decided to get on the road around 8. We pulled in at 10:15 and were extremely fortunate to get a parking space in the overflow lot at the Visitor’s Center. And that spot was wedged between the second place finishers in the asshole parking competition (we had to pull the mirrors in on the car). The first place finishers were parked so badly that you couldn’t squeeze into the spot between them. When we left at 12:30, it was absolute chaos in the parking lot and the overflow lot was also full. So, last minute plan changes work out.

With Alex in tow, we opted to stay on the trails close to the visitors center – mostly paved or board walk and smooth. Great surface for a little boy to walk/run/jump and burn off some serious energy. Jess and Alex abandoned Dave at the gift shop and took off across Bridge 1. Without cell service, Jess had to corral a very unhappy boy, find Dave, and then the journey could begin again. Alex ran along the trail until we reached the Hillside trail head and Alex chose to head up this path.

Hiking on the Hillside Trail in Muir Woods.
Alex on the path in Muir Woods.
Alex on the path in Muir Woods.

The beginning of the Hillside Trail after the Bohemian Grove was quite reasonable – rather wide and smooth, but with a rather steep drop off. Soon it became very narrow and rough, completely inappropriate to have an energetic two year-old free roaming. We packed Alex up in the Osprey child carrier and carried him until we crossed Bridge 4 and returned to the paved path. Along the Hillside Trail we encountered an 8 inch banana slug and Alex had fun cawing at a bird high up in the trees. Alex enjoyed touching a pair of trees we had to walk between on the trail and cried when we kept on walking. He is a curious kid and doesn’t like to leave his interests before he is done checking everything out.

Alex inspecting the signs in Muir Woods.
Alex inspecting the signs in Muir Woods.

Alex also really liked the signs instructing us to stay on the board walk. He inspected them closely trying to figure out how they were constructed and picked out the letter ‘A’ and ‘T’ in each sign. Whenever he saw the ‘T’ he said ‘choo choo’ for train.

Alex checking out a hollow in a tree.
Alex checking out a hollow in a tree on the marked trail.

Overall, we had a great time. The paths near the visitors center are packed, and if we had some more time and were more familiar with the trails that would be better for Alex, we would have ventured farther away from the Visitor’s Center. It took us about 2 hours to walk a 1.5 mile loop, which can be completed more quickly if a toddler isn’t setting your pace. Getting there early is key for securing a parking spot.

Alex enjoying Redwood Creek.
Alex enjoying Redwood Creek.

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