It’s possible, after a walk of less then half a mile in Muir Woods National Monument, to completely forget that downtown San Francisco is less than 15 miles away. This relatively small monument, which is part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, contains unparalleled diversity of plants and animals: many ferns, wildflower, birds, and small mammals all call the park home.
But it’s the trees that reign supreme in Muir Woods. The coastal redwoods and Douglas firs soar more 200 feet into the air here, in one of the only places in the world where these 1,000-year-old trees can be seen. The short and easy hiking trails take visitors through the forest of towering giants, and the whole life cycle of the trees can be seen—from cone to sapling and finally to the dead snags and falls that provide home and nourishment to the forest’s other plants and wildlife.