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Serenity, natural beauty in full display at iconic Muir Woods in Marin

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By TIM JUE
Beat Staff Writer

The serenity found at Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County will likely never be found anywhere else on earth.

Because once you walk under the soaring California redwoods that have survived earthquakes, fires and man-made calamities, the feeling is majestic — an experience that’s uniquely California and Bay Area.

A typical trip to Muir Woods during the summer can be busy. It’s exceptionally popular among tourists and tour groups who take the twisty two-lane roadway appropriately dubbed the Panoramic Highway into the woods.

Overflow parking lots open up to accommodate the throngs of cars with out of state license plates that quickly fill their stalls. Big tour buses roar through the front gates dropping off dozens of mesmerized tourists, and locals who need to take off their socks to count the times they’ve come to Muir Woods seem to take everything in stride.

The popularity is understandable.

The entrance fee at the gate is $5 for adults with seniors and kids paying a discounted price to get the opportunity to walk under 300 acres of federally protected land where Coastal Redwood trees that rise hundreds of feet in the air. The tallest tree at Muir Woods reached 258 feet high.

There’s a paved trail that loops around a stream that takes visitors deep into the heart of the woods — an enchanting hike that loggers and developers never recognized during the early part of the 21st Century when the state’s Gold Rush fueled development in Marin County and all of Northern California.

In 1908, President Teddy Roosevelt stepped in. He declared the 300 or so acres of Muir Woods a federally protected national monument that allowed the trees to mature and early preservationists placated. Those preservationists named it after naturalist John Muir — a pioneer in keeping alive some of the most breathtaking natural artifacts in the Western United States.

The landmark that is now carries his name was such a draw that the United Nations convened their 1945 conference to honor the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt — who died days before the meeting at the Monument’s serene Cathedral Grove. A plaque at the grove still stands in his honor — dedicated by the UN delegates who found solace from World War II in the peaceful refuge of Muir Woods.

Those who seek a healthy dose of hiking away from the controlled environment of the paved pathway can find an extensive network of trails that lead throughout the Woods and into the Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Mountain biking options and even trails for horseback riders are found all throughout this southwest portion of Marin County’s scenic parkland.

But for that unparalleled look at one of the Bay Area’s natural wonders, a visit to Muir Woods should definitely be in store.

MORE ONLINE: Muir Woods National Monument (National Parks Service nps.gov)

E-mail Tim Jue at californiabeat@gmail.com. Join the California Beat on Facebook, and get breaking news headlines, story alerts and previews when you follow us on Twitter.

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