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The Majestic Coastal Redwoods of Muir Woods | Mill Valley, California

With this photo story, I am inviting you to relax and follow me on a virtual walk through the majestic California Coastal Redwoods at one of the most beautiful and magical locations just ten minutes from the Golden Gate bridge: Muir Woods National Monument. Located on the western slope of mystical Mount Tamalpais, Muir Woods has long been of my favorite places in the world. I will go ahead to set the pace… which will be slooooow.

 

Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, California

 

Entrance at Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, California

 

I arrived there one early spring morning in an attempt to avoid the incredible crowds that always gather at this popular forest. You will see the light changing as the morning progresses. Despite the crowds – more than eight hundred thousand (yes 800,000) people from all over the world visit here each year – Muir Woods maintains a strong spirit of place, and these old growth Coastal Redwoods are treasures to behold.

Yes, you do spend a lot of time looking up, trying to find the tips of these powerful old friends. The tallest recorded Redwood to date is 379.1 feet tall (115.5 meters).

 

Unfurling Fern at Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, California

 

I love all trees and forests, but the California Coastal Redwoods have a special place in my heart. When I walk into a Redwood forest, I truly feel like I am going home, that I am visiting old friends. Some of these trees have been here for centuries. Tourists like to pose by a large cross section of Redwood trunk set up near the entrance and on which historical events are marked starting from the center all the way to the outer bark.

 

Giant Redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaGiant Redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaFallen Redwood Tree at Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaThe Creek at Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaThe creek at Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaFerns at Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, California

 

I have been to Muir Woods at times when it was almost impossible to walk by how crowded it was. But on this early morning, only a few visitors were walking around with me, and the forest remained generally quiet and soothing, at least for the hour I was there.

 

Entering this type of forest is such a change of pace that you are instantly transported to a place of inner quiet and reverence. The desire to go and cuddle up with one of the trees is always strong, though I resist the urge here as visitors are required to stay on the path for the health of the natural environment. I would not want to set a bad example to 800,000 people.

 

Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, California

 

Take a deep breath in… hold… then exhale. That wonderful deep forest fragrance we love so much… those are the phytoncydes, which are organic compounds given off by trees – especially Redwoods and conifers – that are not only pleasant to our nose, but also strengthen our immune system by supporting our NK (natural killer) cells.

 

The creek at Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaCathedral Grove at Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaCathedral Grove at Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaD247--085PSFSGMwMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, California

 

Before the logging industry arrived in California, an estimated two million acres (8,000 km2) of old growth forest grew in a narrow strip along the coastal belt from Monterey up to southern Oregon. Now, Muir Woods is one of the few remaining protected old Redwood groves in California.

Because of its proximity to San Francisco, it is also one of the best known and most accessible of these forests, thus the high number of visitors.

 

Muir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, CaliforniaMuir Woods National Monument, Redwood Forest in Mill Valley, Marin County, California

 

I hope you have enjoyed this quiet walk through beautiful Muir Woods, and that maybe one day you will join me for a Shinrin-Yoku (forest bathing) walk through one of the lesser known old Redwood forests further north along the coast.

 

MUIR WOODS NATIONAL MONUMENT

1 Muir Woods Road – Mill Valley, Ca 94941   |   website   |   ph. 415-388-2595

open daily 8:00 am – 7:00 pm (in summer)   |   entry fee   |   wheelchair accessible

restrooms, gift shop & coffee shop facilities on site

parking is not easy, especially on weekends and in the summer, use of the shuttle is suggested

find more information on the park’s website

 

Update of July 10, 2015: I just found out that, due to its extreme popularity, Muir Woods will soon start requiring reservations. You can read about it in this article by SF Gate.

 

 

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8 comments
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  • Ben Porchuk06/08/2015 - 7:52 pm

    Love this photography…love this photographer (and her sweet chocolates!)! BReplyCancel

    • Monica Schwartz06/08/2015 - 8:03 pm

      Thank you, Ben! Love you, too! And can no longer eat chocolate without thinking of you and our fellow Forest Therapy gang. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Joyce Blake06/09/2015 - 7:14 am

    Wow! Beautiful Monica. I love the Redwoods too, I have lived around them all my life and have never seen photography as beautiful as you have captured here! JoyceReplyCancel

    • Monica Schwartz06/09/2015 - 5:55 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, dear Joyce. Looking forward to more Shinrin-Yoku time among the Redwoods with you.ReplyCancel

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella06/10/2015 - 5:56 am

    Admittedly I’m not really one for bushwalks but these ones look quite nice as they’re cleared paths. Do you have leeches there Monica? I’m terrified of them.ReplyCancel

    • Monica Schwartz06/10/2015 - 11:28 am

      Lorraine, most of the protected Redwood parks I have been to have these main pathways that are on flat ground and easy to walk, even in regular shoes. I told my mom that she could even walk these in heels. So you could totally enjoy this experience if you come to California. As for leeches: I am not an authority, but I have never encountered any around California, or even Hawai’i for that matter, though Hawai’i, being tropical, might have them in certain places.
      Even during the Forest Therapy Guide training I did recently, there was no mention of leeches among the potential hazards listed (like poison ivy, mountain lions, ticks and rattle snakes). So you would be quite safe from leeches. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Keoki06/10/2015 - 8:46 am

    Monica…some of your best! I have been to all the redwoods on the pacific coast and you have truly captured their essence with your photography…..Keoki and Heidi, Sequim, WAReplyCancel

    • Monica Schwartz06/10/2015 - 11:20 am

      Thank you Keoki & Heidi! I am happy you enjoyed the pics, and had wondered whether you had been to the Redwoods. I am also planning to visit all the groves and parks along the coast. I will let you know when I make it up your way. 🙂ReplyCancel

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