Martinez, California is now a bustling suburb of San Francisco, but it was once home to a fruit ranch managed by the famous 19th-century preservationist John Muir. The house where he did most of his writing between 1890 and his death in 1914 is now backed by a freeway. Classic non-fiction accounts of his outdoor adventures are still in print and include The Yosemite, Travels in Alaska, and Our National Parks. His work as co-founder of the Sierra Club helped inspire elected officials to preserve huge sections of public land for the enjoyment of future generations.
House tour, film, Mount Wanda, Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail museum
Start your visit by watching the well-produced interpretive film A Glorious Journey (20 minutes). Ranger-guided tours are the only way to step inside Muir’s 14-room Victorian house (free ticket required). After the tour you can walk through what remains of the fruit orchards. Also check out an adobe house on the property that is now a museum dedicated to the 1,200-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.
Off site is located a 326-acre portion of John Muir National Historic Site around Mount Wanda, named for one of Muir’s daughters. A one-mile trail leads to the summit and full-moon hikes are guided by park rangers in the summer months.
Muir planted a giant sequoia tree from the Sierra Nevada here and it is quite large after a century of growth.
All roads are paved, though there is limited parking in the small NPS lot. Be aware that traffic can be heavy in the San Francisco Bay Area.
There is no camping nearby, but perhaps you can follow in Muir’s footsteps and head for Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada.
Muir Woods National Monument (California)
Explore More – What did John Muir call his second-floor writing room where he composed some of the most influential works of his time?
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