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Walking Muir Woods in California

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Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco copyright Shawna Coronado

Whenever I travel, which is often, I try to fit in an extra day for adventure. Real adventure. In my mind, “real adventure” is when you set out for someplace you have never seen or experienced before and you place your whole heart and soul into that experience; throwing yourself into something wonderful. Take risks and push the boundaries of your comfort zones. Live a little bigger. When you come out at the end of the adventure you will be exhausted and have a giant smile on your face. I feel this is so much better than living in the “safe zone”. My latest real adventure was to discover Muir Woods.

California Wild Flowers copyright Shawna Coronado

Before I spoke at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, I rented a car and spent a morning at the Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco (I’ll tell you about that in another post), then I crossed the Golden Gate bridge and wound my way north through the Marin Headlands towards Muir Woods. Magical mountain views of the Gold Gate bridge (above) and wildflower-strewn hillsides (below) were soon left behind for the cool, quiet of the mossy woodlands.

Muir Woods National Park Entrance copyright Shawna Coronado

Curvy roads lead me to Muir Woods National Monument, which is named after John Muir. From the Muir website – “When John Muir learned that William and Elizabeth Kent were naming a redwood forest near San Francisco in his honor, he declared, ‘This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world.’ The couple had purchased the land to preserve its beauty and restful wilderness; and in 1908, they donated it to the federal government to protect it from destruction.”

Muir Woods Park Moss and Trees copyright Shawna Coronado

I visited Yosemite, a giant redwood forest located farther south in the Sierra Nevada area of California a few years ago to see the Giant Sequoia trees. Those trees were enormously larger than the trees at Muir, but the redwoods at Muir Woods (Sequoia sempervirens) hold a different and unique feeling when compared to their family in other woodlands because it is considered a temperate rain forest. Muir Woods is one of the last old-growth coastal redwood forests on the planet. It is moss-filled, wet, dripping, and quiet. It’s as if the sound is absorbed by the moss, so when you walk the paths you feel powerfully connected to the woodland; almost as if you breathing, living, and existing with the trees instead of simply walking through them. Powerful. Quiet. Beautiful.

Muir Woods Park River copyright Shawna Coronado
Muir Woods Park Moss Logs copyright Shawna Coronado
Muir Woods Park Moss Water and Light copyright Shawna Coronado.j
Muir Woods Park Trees copyright Shawna Coronado.jpg

Muir Woods has extensive walking paths beneath the redwood trees which enable visitors to hike many miles. There were few people when I visited Muir – nearly empty – so I walked slowly to really absorb the woodland feel. Each redwood has a unique personality and the tallest tree in the park is 258 feet, which is approximately equivalent to a 23 story building. When you stand beneath a tree and look up, you look up up up forever.

Muir Woods Park Walking Trails copyright Shawna Coronado.jpg
Muir Woods Park Spider and Flower copyright Shawna Coronado.jpg
Muir Woods Park Trilium copyright Shawna Coronado.jpg

In the under-story of the Muir Woods system is a complex growth family; ferns, leaves, wildflowers, mushrooms, woodland plants, and trillium (below) dance a complex waltz with all types of wildlife, insects, amphibians, spiders (above photo hanging overleaf), and mammals. Muir Woods is one of the most beautiful, inspiring, and healing places I have ever been to. I hope my photos show you how much I loved it – you must visit if you get the opportunity and breathe in all the magic at one of America’s only temperate rain forests.

Muir Woods Park WindingTrails copyright Shawna Coronado.jpg

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  1. Thanks so much, Shawna, for making me aware of this delight. I’ll try to crisis the next time I’m in the area!

  2. It was a pleasure to meet you on the nearly deserted hiking trail, as my phone died and I was no longer to take meager photos of the beauty. So glad I can view your gorgeous photos here!

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