Nowadays Primary Forests and ancient trees are rare. There are still spectacular forests with a huge biodiversity or ancient trees to discover.
The magical times to be there are early morning and late day. The light filtering down into the valley through the enormous trees is utterly delightful.
It’s a magical place, but it’s also heavily crowded. Due to the close location of the urban area, only 12 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge the park is overrun from spring to fall. First of all, avoid weekends and go mid-week if possible. Rainy, foggy or cold days are less crowded as well. To avoid the crowds during the day get there very early. The park is open from 8 a.m. until sunset. Be there at about 7:30. The visitor center opens at 9 a.m. You could also park on Muir Woods Road in the early morning. If you go in summer, we recommend taking the Muir Woods Shuttle. Quote from a Park Ranger: "It takes away all the worries and headaches of driving and parking." Shuttle information
In September and October, many school classes visit the National Monument. Winter is less busy but consider it’s the wet season with most of the annual 40 inches / 1016 mm precipitation.
Where to Stay
Our first choice is the outstanding boutique hotel Mill Valley Inn. It is just a 3 miles drive to Muir Wood.
Guanwu is always worth to visit but try to avoid the typhoon season which is most likely to happen from July to September.
It’s famous for incredibly beautiful sunrises and sunsets at the end of the Leshan Forest Road close to the parking of the second trail entrance to the giant Formosan trees. The other popular spot is on the top of the Jehnshan trail. The views are spectacular on clear days. The very best time for it is the equinox in spring on March 21st and autumn on September 23rd. Anyhow, the sunlight has a minimal variation from summer to winter; rising from 5.06 to 6.42 am and setting between 5.09 to 6.48 pm.
In March the almost 100 years old Wushe Cherry Tree is white blooming. From April to June the whole area is covered in blooming rhododendrons, azaleas as well as red Taiwan Cherries.
Rare flowers are in bloom at this time of the year. You may spot the rare butterfly Broad-tailed Swallowtail in June.
The foliage of the maple trees is fiery red.
The mountain ridge called Holly Ridge is covered in snow.
Taiwan's climate is subtropical usually with wet and humid summers. Snow is common during winter mostly in January and February. Most precipitation from April to July. There is less rain from August to November and the driest months are December until March. Anyhow, even in the driest season, you can expect rain. During summer it's refreshing cool on 2000 up to 2.500 meters elevation. Guanwu is located in the mid-altitude fog belt; it’s often misty. Frequently clouds and fog roll in in the afternoon.
Opening Hours from 7 am to 5 pm
Avoiding Crowds in Xitou is almost impossible. On weekdays it is a very popular place for the retired Taiwanese people, and they come here by bus for hiking. The first buses arrive around 8 am and from 9 onwards the park fills up soon. Around 3 pm the first buses leave the area and from 4 onwards the park, and for example, the skywalk is less busy. We arrived midweek, and there were round about several hundred busses. We got told by a hotel manager that it's always crowded like that. On weekends it's very popular for families especially in summer people come here to escape the heat.
In our opinion, the best option to enjoy this incredible beautiful nature is this loop trail which ends on the highest level of Xitou Nature Education Area. It took us 4 hours due to the long descent through the whole Xitou Park. The trail is 12 to 14 km long depending on the paths you chose on the way back through the park.
Start the hike early morning; often clouds roll in around midday and spoil the incredible view of the mountains and the sea of clouds.
Due to the higher elevation, the air is cooler and it often gets foggy. The wettest months are April/May until August.
The trail is open all year around, but it's not recommended from November to April. Avoid hiking the trail on windy days.
Starting the Beautiful Bay Trail in the afternoon gives you an incredible experience. The sun will find its way occasionally through the old grown forest, you will find plenty of moss coped branches, walk over tree trunks, fallen trees, and find different kinds of mushrooms.
The campground is serviced during summer only.
It’s a popular State Park close to San Francisco, but less busy than Muir Woods. Somehow crowded at weekends and popular for camping under the astonishing trees. It’s a park you should not miss. During winter it gets wet and trails are slippery and muddy. Nevertheless, hikes can be done all year but ask for trail conditions first.
The wet season starts in November and lasts until February with most precipitation in January. It receives three times the rainfall of the Bay Area. This rain is much needed by the redwoods after the dry summer. The average night temp is around 41°F / 5°C and day temp under 60°F / 15°C.
Summer from June to September is mostly dry with dense summer fog in the morning. The mist provides the trees with moisture. Nights temps are much cooler than in the Bay Area with around 49°F / 9°C and day temps about 74°F / 23°C. Anyhow, in the hot summer months, it can reach up to 86°F /30°C and more.
Where to Stay
For those who don't want to camp in the State Park is the charming The Inn at Saratoga ideally situated. Included is a cold buffet breakfast.
You can walk this 3.2 km long trail almost the whole year as long as the area does not get destroyed by logging. If it is too rainy, it might be difficult to get there by car. The last part of the gravel road is a bit rough.
In April (autumn) it might be very nice with different species of fungi along the trail.
Still a hidden gem. Very view visitors every day. We had the whole forest and walk for yourselves.
This area is often cloudy or overcast. Summer brings pleasant temperatures mostly around 20 degrees. In the winter, most days with single-digit temperatures. Frost can occur. The most rainfall in winter with a peak in August. Driest months are December to March. However, it is Tasmania; rain can always occur.