Scenic USA - California

Muir Woods

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Nature Pathway - Muir Woods National Monument, CA

Photo by Scott Dommin
Scott Dommin Photography
Historic photos courtesy of the NPS

     Established by America's national historic preservation policy called the Antiquities Act, Muir John Muir - Muir Woods National Monument, CA Woods National Monument was the first park to protect living species. Spared from logging because of the rugged land surrounding Redwood Creek, this last stand of Bay Area old-growth redwood was purchased by Congressman William Kent and his wife, Elizabeth Thacher Kent in 1905. To insure the redwoods remained protected, the Kents donated 295 acres of land to the Federal Government in 1908. The parkland, found beside Panoramic Highway a few miles north of San Francisco, was also first to utilize donated land. When President Roosevelt declared it a national monument, Roosevelt suggested naming the area after Congressman Kent. But the Kents insisted it be named for the giant in conservation, John Muir.
     Recently celebrating its 100th anniversary, Muir Woods continues to protect the ancient stand of coast redwoods. This quiet sanctuary, about a half hour from San Francisco, amazes more than 800,000 visitors every year. The parks’ six miles of trails include three loop pathways that range from a brief half hour walk, Ranger Discussion 1978 - Muir Woods National Monument, CA to an in-depth hour and a half hike. Pathways lead through some of the tallest trees in the world. Even though the redwoods shield themselves from insects by emitting powerful tannins, the park still attracts over 50 species of birds. Those in search of other wildlife creatures during their visit may end up asking how they missed them. A large number of the park’s critters are nocturnal, while others, eager to escape the thump of human footsteps, remain in their cozy niches during midday. For those explorers that linger until dusk, there is a chance in seeing some of the ten species of bats that dwell in the park.

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