Fern Creek Trailhead

Visitors walking among redwoods on the Fern Creek Trail.
Visitors walking among redwoods on the Fern Creek Trail.

Kirke Wrench

Quick Facts

Fern Creek is the first section of a loop around the Alice Eastwood campground and an access point to Mount Tamalpais State Park. This area, like much of Muir Woods, is home to many animal friends. Despite living in all areas of the woods, from the forest floor to high up in the canopy, most inhabitants are hard to spot, so keep your peepers peeled!

Looking High and Low

A lot of animals in Muir Woods are just little guys whom you might see along the ground or lower in the canopy. Some common woodland friends include banana slugs, Steller's jay, Echo blue butterflies, thrushes, rough-skinned newts, hummingbirds and the Sonoma chipmunk.

But keep your eyes open for larger animal friends, too--Muir Woods is also home to black-tailed deer, bobcats, otters, skunks and raccoons.

Northern Spotted Owl at Muir Woods

Muir Woods lies within the southern portion of the northern spotted owl's range, a subspecies of the spotted owl. These owls reside in old-growth coniferous forests from Northern California to British Columbia and prey on small mammals. In Muir Woods, spotted owls primarily diet on dusky-footed woodrats, with other common prey such as brush rabbits, voles, pocket gophers and mice.

They don't make their own nests, preferring instead to reside within tree cavities, including broken-topped trees and platforms. Because of their specific nesting preferences, the health of northern spotted owl populations is indicative of the health of old-growth forests, making them one of the most-studied owl species. They're classified as federally threatened, with the primary threat due to logging activity resulting in the fragmentation and elimination of their forest habitat. If you're visiting in the twilight hour, keep your ears open. You may hear the northern spotted owl's distinctive "barking" call.

Fish Friends

When you're going about your daily fish identifications, it's important to remember that a trout is a salmon, but a salmon does not always a trout make. Consider the coho and the steelhead, both are anadromous, meaning, they migrate to the ocean after birth in freshwater rivers and streams. Both fish friends are threatened by a number of human-induced environmental factors such as habitat degradation, water diversions and improper harvesting. In Muir Woods, we're doing our part to care for our fish friends by restoring native habitat up and down their spawning grounds, Redwood Creek.

Remember, look but don't take! Fishing is not allowed!

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument

Last updated: January 28, 2021