Many San Francisco visitors who want to see California’s “Big Trees” go to Muir Woods. It’s an easily accessible redwood forest with three well-groomed hiking trails that aren’t strenuous at all. Rangers also give frequent guided walks that will help you learn about the redwood forest. Located just 12 miles north of San Francisco in Marin County, this is the only place to see redwood trees in the Bay Area.
The accessibility of Muir Woods also means it’s one of the most crowded places to see the trees. In summer, it’s often packed with tourists and the parking lot quickly fills up, forcing visitors to park in nearby Sausalito and wait for a shuttle. It’s become so crowded that advance reservations are required both to park and to use the shuttle. The busiest time at the park is from April to October, especially in the summer months and on weekends.
Also, keep in mind that the coastal redwoods in Muir Woods aren’t nearly as big as the giant sequoias in the Eastern Sierras. They’re also relatively small compared to the much taller coastal redwoods further north in the state, which can reach up to 380 feet in height (although the tallest tree in Muir Woods, at 258 feet, is nothing to thumb your nose at).
If you want to see redwood trees near San Francisco with fewer crowds, try Big Basin Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz or Armstrong Redwoods north of San Francisco near the Russian River.