Hiking Muir Woods has been on my to do list for a few years since I heard about it. Fortunately it wasn’t too far from where I am staying in San Francisco. I planned ahead so I could make the most of my daylight.
I took my clothes with me to work and left straight from work. My new friend joined me for the hike. We hit the road and made it to Muir Woods in about 45 minutes, which was quite impressive for rush hour traffic. There were several places that were so breathtaking as we winded our way up the mountain road we had to pull over and take pictures.
Once we got to Muir Woods we hurried in. We found the gift shop to get some water, stuff our face with a muffin, and buy some souvenier earrings. Then we hit the trail. By trail, I mean the boardwalk that limits where you can go. The redwoods were stunning. They reached so high into the sky we could barely see the tops. There were many people on the boardwalk trail. We could see dirt trails branching off, but signs always warned about staying off the trails unless you were guided with a ranger.
I was happy to discover not far into the boardwalk trail a trail dirt trail that branched off called the Ocean View Trail and because it looked steep, no one else was on it. I started up the stairs and into the woods. We climbed along side the redwoods, stopping often to catch our breath and to take in the view. The smell of the forest was sweet and piney. The sun snuck in through the trees streaming little rays of light and bouncing off the trail. We continued to climb.
We crossed bridges that ran over dried up waterfalls and amazing scenery. It was a rare occasion that we saw anyone on the trail. At one point we heard something and both jumped about a foot when we looked up and two deer stood staring at us as if to ask what we were doing. We stopped and took pictures and talked to them. They seemed to be curious and indifferent.
We hiked on until we came to what looked like the trail ending. Then a sign reading “Lost Trail” pointed up. I looked up, and there lay a trail nearly straight verticle. We debated between each other to do it and both agreed we should. It may be the hardest climb I’ve done. The dirt was loose and it was so steep we sometimes had to walk up sideways to keep traction. Just when we thought the trail evened out and we turned to look at our accomplishment, we also realized we were only halfway up. We journeyed up encouraging each other.
We were so winded by the time we got to the top that it took us a bit to get our bearings. We looked out trying to find the “ocean view” the trail name had promised but didn’t see it. Another couple came up behind us. We were complaining about feeling misled when the woman pointed out to the horizon. The ocean laid right there in the distance. What I thought was just clouds and horizon was actually the ocean. Leave it to a flatlander to totally miss that one.
We continued onto the Panoramic Trail, overlooking Muir Woods below. We dropped off right by the road we had driven down the mountain on.
Feeling accomplished we turned and headed back down. It was much easier going down that up. We made good time, decided we were starving and wanted to catch the sunset on the ocean. We had little time left.
When we left Muir Woods I made a mad drive for Stinson Beach. The windy roads made my partner a little nervous, but I loved it. I maneuvered the car around the tight corners and got a thrill from each turn. We made it to Stinson Beach right at sunset. We walked the beach and tried to wash the dirt and grime from our legs we got from the trail. It was so stuck we used the sand to exfoliate. A man came swimming rapidly towards us and then ran up the beach. He declared that something just touched him in the water. We all watched waiting when a baby sea lion popped his head up and then flipped. We watched him play in the waves. I was so excited to see him.
We decided we needed to find food and drove up the main road of town. Just across teh road from the ocean was a small local restaurant called Sand Dollar. It looked quaint and had an open patio so we could sit outside. We got a seat feelign sorry for anyone who had to look at us. We looked like a hot mess. We ordered sea food, built a friendship, and then shared a very decadent dessert. I told her she was the perfect date. 🙂
We drove back down Highway 1 in the dark, stopping often for the wildlife walking down the middle of the road. It was a calm and relaxed drive back. I slept like a rock. What an amazing day.