Eerie, otherworldly, ancient.
Hard to describe the giant redwoods if you haven't seen them. This was my first time. The base of each tree is gnarly, unyielding, sometimes scorched. The tallest and oldest living things I've ever seen, one has to look straight up to see their majestic tops, as filtered sunlight flows through the fog. Dreamy. With the primitive groundscape of ferns, lichens and aromatic firs, you can imagine dinosaurs frolicking on this very spot.
Muir Woods reminds us how tiny and short-lived we humans are, but the redwoods don't taunt or gloat; they're too huge. Hopefully we are good stewards.
Muir Woods a victim of its own success? Parking is insane; take the shuttle. Insane lines for the women's johns, too. I'm OK with $7 Park admission, even more. The free map they give you is good, but a brochure is available for $2 which includes a detailed trail topo map. All the Park rangers & staff we met were knowledgeable & friendly.
We took the main boardwalk trial and immediately saw the massive giants (and some deer). The creekbed was dry, but we could envision salmon heading upstream in the spring. Helpful signage along the way explains all aspects of the landscape, the impact of fire, Muir the Man, critters, etc. One sign notes that if a redwood falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, there's still a really big noise.
At Bridge #4, we took the Bootjack Trail for a ways. No more boardwalk or paved path; you're now on steep gravel trail. The markers are confusing at this point. It suddenly got very quiet. We saw kingfishers darting through the redwoods.
Back to the main trail, via the Hillside Trail. No more peace-and-quiet. Despite many signs urging QUIET, especially in Cathedral Grove, kids are shrieking as clueless parents snap selfies. The Park should hire some retired librarians to tell these idiots to SHHH!
Afterwards, we checked out Muir Beach, a 10-minute drive. The pleasant beach is in a rocky cove, frigid water, not too crowded, except for several unleashed dogs. A cluster of houses cling precariously to a cliff atop the beach, just daring San Andreas to stir.
Seeing the giant redwoods is something every person should do at least once in their life, for perspective and humility. Muir Woods is a precious resource which should be vigilantly protected, even if it means $15 admission fees, mandatory shuttles and a muzzle on screaming kids. See it while you can.