About Muir Woods. If you have never been to Muir Woods, go there as soon as you can! Muir Woods is a pristine old-growth redwood forest in an isolated canyon 25 miles from Berkeley. You can walk for miles among redwood trees that are 300 feet tall. Many of these trees are over 500 years old. Some are over 1,000 years old. I love the smell of this place. The odor of a redwood forest is just amazing. Nobody forgets a visit to Muir Woods. Before you go, remember that there is no cell phone or wi-fi reception in Muir Woods, so make your phone calls before you get there. Also, stay on paths and don’t touch unfamiliar vegetation. There is poison oak in Muir Woods. And whenever you walk through a forest anywhere, it’s wise to wear long pants and closed shoes. The park entrance fee is $15 for adults. Children age 15 and younger are free.
Parking at Muir Woods. The parking rules have changed. Until 2018, Muir Woods didn’t have parking reservations. You could just drive your car to the parking lot, park your car (if you could find a space), and walk into the park. Now if you want to drive to Muir Woods, you need to make a parking reservation in advance. Go to Go Muir Woods. If you drive to Muir Woods without a parking reservation, you may not get into the parking lot, and there are no parking lots nearby. How far in advance you need to make a reservation depends on the time of year. In the summer and on holiday weekends, parking lot reservations can sell out months in advance. Parking a car costs $8 a day. The drive to Muir Woods from Berkeley passes a lot of beautiful scenery. The road also wraps around San Quentin Prison, the most famous prison in the United States. Whenever I drive past San Quentin, I think about some of the infamous men who live or lived there, men like Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan. San Quentin Prison has a gift shop where they sell handicrafts made by the prisoners, but I’ve never been to it.
Public Transit. You can get from Berkeley to Muir
Woods by public transit, but it’s a long trip. Take BART from Berkeley to the Embarcadero BART station in San
Francisco. Walk to the Ferry Building, 1 block away. Take the Sausalito ferry. Check the schedule before you go. The ferries can be far apart. At the Sausalito ferry terminal, get the
Marin Transit #66 Muir Woods bus. It goes from the ferry terminal
to the entrance of Muir Woods. There are frequent buses during the day. The bus
ride is 1 hour each way.
Uber and Lyft. Can you take Uber or Lyft to Muir Woods? That’s a tricky question. You can take Uber or Lyft to Muir Woods, but since there is no cell phone reception at Muir Woods, how would you get back? How would you order an Uber car to pick you up at Muir Woods, and how would the driver find you? I found out about this problem recently from somebody I know who drove to Muir Woods without a parking reservation. The parking lot was full, so he parked his car several miles away and took Uber to Muir Woods. It was only when he was ready to go home that he found out that cell phones don’t work at Muir Woods. He had a lot of trouble getting back to his car.
Why is top quality redwood lumber so expensive? It’s a matter of supply and demand. The demand is high, and the supply is low. Redwood trees only grow in a small area along the California coast. Most of the old-growth redwood trees were cut down a long time ago, and young redwood trees produce relatively little top quality or ‘heart’ redwood. Heart redwood is the lumber that is all red. Redwood is beautiful and is naturally resistant to rot and termites. Redwood is more resistant to rot and termites than any other kind of commercially available lumber.
Pressure treated lumber. The principle alternative to redwood in outdoor construction is pressure treated wood. Pressure treated wood is not pretty to look at, and it is infused with chemicals designed to prevent rot and kill termites if they try to eat it. You may have heard that pressure treated wood is soaked in arsenic. That used to be true, but arsenic has been banned in pressure treated lumber since 2004. Nevertheless, pressure treated wood is still not food-safe. You should never grow vegetables in pressure treated wood planter boxes. If someone gives you a planter box or kitchen cutting board made out of pressure treated wood, put it in the garbage can! Also, never burn this stuff! The smoke from burning pressure treated wood is dangerous to inhale.