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Muir Woods National Monument lies 12 miles north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and a world away from the bustling urban scene. The monument stands as a pristine example of the ancient redwood forests that covered much of California’s coastal valleys before the 1800s.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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In 1908, landowners William and Elizabeth Thacher Kent donated the 295 acres of land that now comprise Muir Woods, and President Roosevelt proclaimed the area as a national monument.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The typically fog-enshrouded redwoods can be explored on one of many day hikes that penetrate the dense forest. You can access the park by the visitor center in the central valley off CA 101, or hike into the park from the ridgeline near Mount Tamalpais, whose summit offers panoramic views of Muir Woods, Alcatraz, San Francisco, and its suburbs.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The most direct way to reach the iconic Cathedral Grove—a stretch of towering trees that inspire a revered silence in all who walk through this part of the forest—is to visit the park via the main entrance, which links up to a mellow, well-defined nature hike. The tallest trees in Muir Woods reach up to 259 feet, though Coastal Redwoods can grow to 380 feet.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Those willing to rough it—a little—can find more challenging terrain on trails like Fern Creek and Ocean View, but all the trails a very well-marked and -maintained.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Venture slightly off the beaten path and you’ll also find one of Muir Woods’ most remarkable treasures: the Tourist Club, a private facility that is the HQ for the Nature Friends organization’s San Fran branch. Two hiking trails—Redwood and Dipsea to Sun Trails—reach this club.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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It was established in 1912 by a group of German nature-lovers living in the SF Bay area and is entirely member-run and member-retained. The public, however, can visit. As of this publication, the club is open on the first and forth Sunday of each month, typically from one to five p.m.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The food on offer here includes pickles, dried meat, and craft brews from SF-area breweries. You can also bring your own lunch. The proximity to San Fran—and the staggering views of the surrounding redwoods—make it quite an open-air party scene during the spring, fall, and summer months.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The park is open during daylight hours, and no camping or picnicking is permitted. But there’s a restaurant at the visitor center as well as designated picnic areas throughout the monument.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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And while the Coast Redwoods certainly steal the show, the monument boasts a wide variety of other fauna, including brilliant green moss that grows on the redwoods…  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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…vast carpets of fern…  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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…and patches of clover.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The tree’s bark is also quite thick, reaching depths of up to 12 inches, with a bright red-brown color when freshly exposed.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The average age of the old-growth redwoods here is 500 to 700 years, and the oldest is at least 1,200 years old. And while there are strands of taller redwoods in locales like Redwood National Park, Muir Woods reigns supreme as one of the easiest-access locales to witness the grandeur of these California giants.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
 
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