Earlier this year I was able to visit the Muir Woods National Monument for the first time and it was a very cool and pleasant experience. I had heard about this National Monument for some time but never had the chance to make it out there to see it myself. Fortunately, my fiancé decided to surprise me by taking me here and I didn’t know where we were going until we were almost there. Once I had figured out where she was taking me, I became very excited and couldn’t wait to see what the Muir Woods had to offer.
An Adventure Among Giants
The Muir Woods National Monument is an area located on the Pacific Coast and is within Marin County, California. It is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is one of the few remaining old growth coast redwood stands in the San Francisco Bay Area. The trails we had walked along were surrounded by these giant trees which were magnificent and made us feel very small in comparison. The ecosystem within these woods was very cool and wet, allowing for a huge amount of plant and fungal growth underneath the canopy. The coastal redwood forests are unique when it comes to how the area stays wet and obtain water, despite dry years and dry summers. The area is regularly visited by the coastal marine layer fog, which brings in moisture that ends up getting trapped within the redwood stands allowing for water to accumulate and sustain the trees and other flora.
A few parts of the trails were closed due to downed trees after the recent storms that ripped through the area. Despite having to skip some trails, Melissa and I still had quite a bit of fun exploring the area for the first time ever. The ground was very wet, all of the plant life around us was green, and there were many types of fungi both on trees and on the ground. Having the sun shine through the trees felt somewhat heavenly, but even with rays of sunlight piercing through the tree tops the area was still very cold. What would have been a brief thirty minute hike ended up taking almost and hour and a half, mostly due to the fact that Melissa and I kept stopping to see every fungi that we came across. We even managed to find a number of banana slugs, of which we ended up showing to others who were interested in these yellow invertebrates.
Of the many different species of fungi we found, shelf fungi ended up being the most common and abundant for the rest of our walk through the Muir Woods. We also found a wide variety of other fungi, such as waxy cap mushrooms, coral fungi, and turkey tail mushrooms. As we made our way further into the redwood grove and the sun began to warm up the area, we saw more banana slugs and eventually heard a few bird calls higher up in the tree canopies. Unfortunately, we were unable to see any insects due to the fact that it was still very cold and very wet. The seemingly endless amount of moss covering the fallen trees and multitude of ferns surround the standing trees definitely made up for it. We eventually had to turn around and go back the way we came in order to exit the park because a tree had fallen on the part of the trail that looped back to the entrance. That was completely fine for us because we ended up looking for things that we may have missed going into the grove.
For this being my first trip ever to the Muir Woods, I would say I thoroughly enjoyed myself and loved the overall atmosphere of the area. Seeing these trees and all the other organisms that were moving below them made me feel as though I wasn’t on Earth anymore. It was an experience I would definitely like to have again, only at a warmer point in time so I can get a nice idea of the insect diversity here. Overall, I would recommend this place as one to definitely visit if you are looking for a nice and pleasant nature hike.