“Why would you go to San Francisco and spend over half a day of your two days here wandering around the woods?” I hear you cry.
Well, it’s very simple. Just look at it!
Muir Woods is only 12 miles from San Francisco, yet feels like another world. For some parts of the hike, we didn’t see another soul for ages. We were lost amongst the giant Coast Redwoods, not sure what was round the next corner. It felt like we were kids off on a proper adventure, like the famous 5 or something, we even packed a picnic.
Let’s take a walk
We got a map from the visitors centre, and decided to do the hillside trail. But of course, the forest had other ideas for us.
We set off on the meandering path between the trees and the path started to climb away from the families exploring the forest floor with its proper paving.
We passed a family with children who were walking quite slowly, gathering twigs and things for their holiday scrapbook. We passed a bench with an older couple catching their breath. We kept going and after a while, we stopped noticing people.
The path kept winding round corners. “We’re going to start dropping back down again,” I kept reassuring myself out loud. But each time we rounded a corner, it was just another uphill walk.
Soon, we walking above the 76m trees, which had seemed very tall from the valley floor.
By now it was getting hotter, and our jumpers were stuffed into our bags. And we just kept going up hill.
We didn’t know what path we were on and we were about to turn and head back – at least it would be all downhill, when we saw a couple heading towards us.
“Hey, do you know where you’re headed?” the man shouted.
“Not really!” Jamie panted back.
“If you head up there and take the first right, you’ll get an amazing view!” We thanked him and continued to walk up the steep steps. After walking an hour or more uphill, it better be a bloody good view!
“This better be worth it”
We rounded the corner, and saw this…
The Pacific perfectly framed by the rolling hills, and a perfect spot for a picnic! A warm, soggy sandwich tastes better with a sea view, who knew!
It took me a long time to find this place on google maps when we reached our apartment. It’s called Veteran’s bench and it’s just off the Old Mine Trail and Dipsea.
I haven’t got a picture of the bench, but it reads:
Your journey for America has been both tough and rewarding. You have sacrificed and given much and your service is greatly appreciated…this special place overlooking the beauty of California has been set aside for Veterans seeking a place of quiet, a place of natural beauty that inspires healing.
We invite you to sit and look out over the forests, the meadows, the Pacific and the fog, and take in the stillness that will embrace you and give you the strength for tomorrow.
The view was truly breathtaking. And it was thanks to that man that we found this gem. So if we visit Muir Woods, get lost, take the wrong path and you never know what you might find. (Or take the Ben Johnson/Dipsea till you reach this place!)
We headed back down the Deer Park Fire Road and Dipsea until we reached the overflow car park of Muir Woods.
One more stop
On our way back to West Portal, we decided to stop at the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. We parked up near Land’s End Trail Eagle Point and walked along the Lands End trail.
The original idea had been to walk down to Battery Lobos and the Sutro Baths, but we didn’t realise how far a walk away they were. Plus we were tired after our hike around Muir Woods.
You don’t need to walk far for stunning views back across the bay and bridge though. We didn’t go any further than the start of the steps down towards Lands End Labyrinth before we headed back.
We took in our last views of the stunning bridge before we drove away.
Next stop, Lake Tahoe
We loved every minute of our time in San Francisco, but like they say – all good things must come to an end. Our next destination was Lake Tahoe, somewhere we hadn’t planned in the original road trip, but I saw a photograph in a glossy holiday brochure and knew we had to go and see it for ourselves. And so we did.