On a recent trip out West I had the opportunity to visit a special park in Northern California. Muir Woods National Monument is a “Tree Lover’s Monument” as John Muir said in the early 1900s when he bought the land. He would later donate it to the newly established National Parks System.
It is normally $7 to enter the park, but I was there on a free weekend.
Wear/bring shoes that are appropriate for slippery, muddy, wet, and potentially long uphill trails (more on that later).
We left San Francisco and arrived at Muir Woods about 25 minutes later. We arrived early and it was a good thing we did.
The limited parking lots fill up quickly. You are probably going to have to park some distance away and hike up to the park.
It’s worth it.
Pictures don’t really do the park justice and I’m not nearly a good enough writer to come close to describing the sites and sounds.
It was a little difficult to take pictures. My GS4 did not like the odd lighting of the park.
And here’s one with people for a reference to the size of some of these trees.
Now, for the helpful hints part of the post. The ocean view trail is long, narrow, muddy, rocky, steep, and a great challenge. Enter at your own risk. Don’t blame me if/when you make it to the top and realize it’s too foggy to actually see the ocean. 🙂
Our 34th park was Lost Maples State Natural Area. We headed out early from Austin to beat the crowd…and then found that we were the only ones crazy enough to brave the weather.
It was 32 degrees and muddy, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
There were many maples that still held their leaves, but many of the trees were bared during the recent storms. This was definitely one of the most colorful parks that we have visited so far.
There were also some interesting formations at the park like Monkey Rock.
Can you see it? How about now?
The view from the top of the East Trail was definitely worth the climb.
About that climb…1.5 miles straight up a rock staircase. It was challenging, but it paid off.
Check out the foliage report at TPWD for the latest on the maples at Lost Maples.
Also a great video on the TPWD Youtube channel.
Barrington Farm is a living history farm similar to the the Sauer Beckmann Living History Farm at LBJ State Park.
If you haven’t been to one of these living history farms I highly recommend a visit. It is educational and entertaining. Ask lots of questions.
The farm still uses the smokehouse. They slaughter a hog in January and smoke meat for the rest of the year.
The farm has a beautiful Polish Crested Red that guards the hens.
There are also two slave houses that are present at the farm.
There is not quite as much to check out at the Barrington Farm as the Sauer Beckmann Farm, but I still recommend the stop.
After our visit to Washington on the Brazos we went right down the road to The Barrington Living History Farm. I’ll have a longer post with pictures coming up. Part of the video below discusses the farm.
On our way home from Houston (Battleship Texas and San Jacinto Monument) we stopped by Lake Somerville State Park.
The park has an office on both sides of the lake. The reason for this is that the lake is very long. It does take some time to drive from one office to the other so if you plan on visiting both offices (path tags at both) make sure you allow for about 45 minutes to get from one to the other. The other key piece of info is that the Birch Creek Unit Office closes at 4:45 pm. We arrived at 4:55 and were unable to get our path tag.
The park and lake are very beautiful. Some trails do need some maintenance. It doesn’t look like they cut some of them back much. Make sure to wear jeans/boots on the more hairy trails as there are some poisonous snakes out and about especially around the shore.
This was one of the trails that looked safer.
It turned out to be the one we saw a rather large water moccasin cross right in front of us.
Again, the lake was beautiful and there were lots of people out enjoying the water.
Plan to spend a weekend at this park to enjoy the lake. Be sure to check the TPWD site for good directions and updates on the water level.
Next to the San Jacinto Battleground in Houston is Battleship Texas. If you like history, ships, militaria, or all of the above you’ll easily spend a few hours checking out this jewel of the Admiral Nimitz Fleet.
Your parks pass gets you aboard for free. This is a great deal considering it’s normally $12 for an adult and $6 for the kids.
You can take a seat on the guns and get a feel for what it was like to aim these beasts.
If you’re a photography nut, you’ll need to bring extra memory cards. One of my favorite shots was of the San Jacinto Monument from the bow of the ship.
Back in June we headed to Houston to see an Astros game and check out a couple of Houston area parks. Truly one of the highlights was the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site and Monument. This should be on every Texan’s bucket list. (summary of battle)
The elevator ride to the top is $4 and is probably a “do it once just to say you did it” kind of thing. The views are nice though.
A college friend of mine is hiking the John Muir Trail for his birthday. It should make for a great blog to follow as he posts about his adventure. He’s also an amazing photographer and should provide some unbelievable photos. Good luck to him and his sister. I look forward to hearing about their hike.
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