Muir Woods Daytrip
Mar 14, 2008
|Golden Gate National Park has many parts to it and today we are crossing the famous bridge to visit one of them. Muir Woods has the largest redwoods in the area, and we are paying them a visit. We cross over the Golden Gate and make a stop on the other side to enjoy the view of San Francisco and the Bay area. Sausalito is on our right as we turn off the highway to go up a narrow, twisty road with 15 mph corners to Muir Woods. We go up and down hills, signs are posted everywhere that vehicles over 35 feet are prohibited and one can see why. It would be hard to go around some of the corners with a large vehicle, especially if another car was coming your way.
It is very green here; this area thrives on the fog that is so prominent in the Bay area.
Muir Woods is a remnant of ancient coast redwood forests that blanketed many northern California coastal valleys before the 1800's. In 1905, William & Elizabeth Kent bought 295 acres to protect this stand of redwoods. They donated it to the federal government; in 1908 President Roosevelt proclaimed the area a National Monument. It was named after conservationist John Muir upon request by the Kents.
Redwood and Giant Sequoia are closely related, the difference being that the sequoia is wider but shorter than the redwood. Sequoias grow in Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings National Park on the eastern side of California. Redwoods are found from southern Oregon to Big Sur; an area of about 500 miles. The redwoods are prominent in this area, because they need the fog for survival. The fog creates the perfect moisture for these tall trees, some up to 379 feet. The fog condenses on leaves and needles, dripping to the forest floor, replenishing water that trees lose to evaporation and transpiration.
They have a shallow root system that only penetrate 10 to 13 feet and spread out up to 100 feet. There is no tap root, so a weakened tree will fall over during a winters storm, becoming a nurse tree for animals & other trees in the forest.
Fire is an important factor in a redwood forest. Because of human intervention, not many fires have occurred here in the past 100 years. Redwoods have a thick bark that insulates a mature tree from fire damage. Repeated fires can burn through the bark and expose the heartwood to dry rot. Subsequent fires may hollow out the rotted parts, which show as blackened cavities all over the forest. The name redwood comes from the colour of the bark which is caused by the bitter chemical tannin. Tannin makes the bark and wood fire resistant as well as protects it from insect and fungi attacks.
Reproduction of a redwood happens via burl sprouting. A burl is a mass of dominant buds that grows at the base or on the roots or sides of redwoods. The burl may sprout when a tree is injured or the tissue is affected. Burl sprouting gives redwoods a competitive edge over trees that can reproduce by seed only. Many tightly grouped redwoods or ones that are fused at their bases, probably started life as burl sprouts.
We walked a 2 mile trail through the forest, stopping at points of interest, which Connor read to us from the park brochure. We did not see any animals, except for a single butterfly. Redwood Creek runs through the woods, which during the months of December - February is an important spawning ground for salmon. During those months the creek will swell up because of the heavy rainfall.
The trees were very majestic and tall; lots of undergrowth here because of the wet climate. There were many ferns, small flowers and smaller trees that survive because of fallen redwoods.
After our visit to the park, we drove the rest of the loop road back to the highway, with a stop at Muir Beach. This was a small beach in a cove on the Pacific Ocean. Hudson went a little crazy digging holes and running around before it started pouring rain and we had to run back to the truck.
We drove back over the Golden Gate, where we had to pay the $5.00 toll; it is a one way toll only. It rained off and on the whole way home; it is Friday afternoon so traffic was very busy with many multi-car accidents reported on the radio.
We made it home safely before dinner.