Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Sunday's Trip: Muir Woods

It has been a very long time since I’ve really visited Muir Woods north of San Francisco. Well, I did go a few years back with a group of friends, but we were really there to sample beers at the “guest house” in the hills above the park. In any case, yesterday I decided to combine a bit of photography in the Marin Headlands area with a visit to Muir Woods.

Since I had been at the Golden Gate Bridge early enough to do some sunrise photography, even though I made a short stop near Fort Cronkite first, I still was at Muir Woods quite early. Even with my early arrival the close-in parking lot was already full, so I went down the road a few hundred yards to the overflow lot.

The main section of this park is a redwood forest surrounding a creek that flows through the bottom of a small valley. Trails meander up and down this valley from the entrance. Actually, for someone accustomed to cross-country travel above timberline, “trail” seems like the wrong word. A good number of the paths are boardwalk, in places separated from the forest by fences. I generally don’t like being separated from my “wilderness,” but some protection from the hordes of visitors is no doubt necessary.

About the visitors… There are tons of them. By the time I finished my little photographic amble through the park around noon the place was crawling with people, and not only was the overflow parking lot (where mine had been the only car when I arrived) now completely full, but cars were lining the roadway for a good distance beyond. It didn’t take long to figure out that Muir Woods is on the San Francisco tourist loop, as there were quite a few people arriving by tour bus, and I heard accents and languages from most of the planet.

Even though the crowds are not to my liking, I do understand that areas like this are necessary and, in fact, do serve to expose some people who would not otherwise have the experience to something that feels a bit like wilderness. Among the visitors I saw quite a few who seemed truly impressed by the tall trees and the quiet stillness of this patch of forest.

Of course, I also saw a few humorous things as well. It appeared that some people, wearing clothing and shoes more appropriate for shopping in downtown San Francisco, might have accidentally left the boardwalk trail and ended up on real trails. Good for them for being a bit more adventurous, but some looked more than a bit uncomfortable stepping over downed branches and mud. Since I was in full photographer mode (biggish camera, large lenses, backpack, full size tripod) I also had to endure (enjoy? suffer? laugh at? laugh with?) the comments/antics of people reacting to me and my equipment: “Are you a photographer?” “Did you get a good picture?” It is all in good fun though – I often ask if they would like me to use their camera to take a photo of their whole group for them.

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October 22, 2007 - Posted by | Commentary, Places, Trails

1 Comment »

  1. […] Dan Mitchell went to Muir Woods the other day … I keep thinking I’ll check out The Woods, though I have a hard time convincing myself those woods are that much better than the ones we have down here in the South Bay. About the visitors — There are tons of them. By the time I finished my little photographic amble through the park around noon the place was crawling with people, and not only was the overflow parking lot (where mine had been the only car when I arrived) now completely full, but cars were lining the roadway for a good distance beyond. It didn’t take long to figure out the Muir Woods is on the San Francisco tourist loop, as there were quite a few people arriving by tour bus, and I heard accents and languages from most of the planet. Even though the crowds are not to my liking, I do understand that areas like this are necessary and, in fact, do serve to expose some people who would not otherwise have the experience to something that feels a bit like wilderness to them. Among the visitors I saw quite a few who seemed truly impressed by the tall trees and the quiet stillness of this patch of forest. […]

    Pingback by Dan at Muir Woods | January 28, 2008 | Reply


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