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U.S.A.: Muir Woods National Monument

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Muir Woods National Monument | U.S.A. | Americas

[Visited: November 2016]

After cycling from the Golden Gate Bridge through the Marin Headlands park, on steep and sometimes muddy trails with stones and gullies, I arrive at the main road, from where I descend into the valley of Redwood Creek. I park my bike, pay the entrance fee, and walk through the entrance gate into the forest. At once, I am in a different world: a ceiling of trees high above me, with a wooden boardwalk leading through the dark forest, where just before, I was cycling in the bright sunlight and through landscape with views all around. Muir Woods is a popular destination; easily reached from San Francisco, so I share the woods with lots of other visitors. I walk up the Redwood Creek which meanders through the forest, and under several bridges.

Picture of Muir Woods National Monument (U.S.A.): Redwood trees seen from below

Some of the redwood trees have enormous openings, like caverns, in which an adult can stand. The boardwalk sometimes leads very close to those gigantic trees; when you stop and look up, it gives you an even better idea of their size. There is also a lot to see when you look down. Ferns, mosses, redwood sorrel, the occasional bird, rotting tree trunks: a lot of plants and animals take advantage of the dark and moist climate of the undergrowth of the majestic trees above. When I reach the Cathedral Grove, a sign asks me to be quiet. Here, delegates of 50 countries who drafted the United Nations Charter held a ceremony in memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had died just before. A plaque is still here to remind visitors of this feat. It was, in fact, President Theodore Roosevelt who had declared Muir Woods a National Monument in 1908, which safeguarded the future of the area.

Picture of Muir Woods National Monument (U.S.A.): Hills with trees above the Muir Woods valley

The further I get into the redwood forest of Muir Woods, the less people are around me. When I take the Hillside trail, on the west side of Redwood Creek, it often feels I have the forest to myself. When I am back at the entrance, I decide to hike up the Dipsea trail for the views. A steep climb takes me to the hills above and out of the forest, and I now see the ocean at a distance. I walk a trail beneath the Panoramic Highway, which soon takes me back into the woods. In contrast with the Redwood Creek area I have visited before, I am now totally alone. It is a longer than expected walk; I hike down to Fern Creek, back to the lush undergrowth of the redwood trees, and reach the main trail where I have been before. From here, it is an easy walk on the wooden boardwalk back to the entrance. The bike ride to Muir Beach is slowly downhill, and before I know it, I am working my way up a steep hill of the Marin Headlands with rolling waves of the Pacific crashing on the rocky shore below.

Picture of Muir Woods National Monument (U.S.A.): Redwood Creek with moss-covered tree trunk
Picture of Muir Woods National Monument (U.S.A.): Tall redwood tree seen from below
Picture of Muir Woods National Monument (U.S.A.): Light reaching the undergrowth at Redwood Creek
Picture of Muir Woods National Monument (U.S.A.): Hillside trail above the Redwood Creek
Picture of Muir Woods National Monument (U.S.A.): Redwood trees at Muir Woods
Picture of Muir Woods National Monument (U.S.A.): One of the trails above Muir Woods
Picture of Muir Woods National Monument (U.S.A.): Close-up of a redwood tree
Picture of Muir Woods National Monument (U.S.A.): Open spaces at the base of redwood trees
Picture of Muir Woods National Monument (U.S.A.): Trail in open landscape above Muir Woods
Picture of Muir Woods National Monument (U.S.A.): Lower part of redwood trees at Muir Woods
Picture of Muir Woods National Monument (U.S.A.): The forest of Muir Woods

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