“This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world.”
Those were John Muir’s words when he learned that William and Elizabeth Kent were naming a redwood forest in his honor.
On January 9, 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt used the Antiquities Act to create Muir Woods National Monument.
Akim Reinhardt, associate professor in history at Towson University said that Muir was a pivotal figure in the parks movement. He fell in love with the great outdoors.
“He was a Scottish immigrant who came to America when he was 11 years old with his family, settled on a farm in Wisconsin and immediately found beauty in the North American landscape,” Reinhardt said.
Muir was a philosopher, scientist and author. His family emigrated from Scotland to Wisconsin in 1848. He eventually made a home in northern California.
See video above for more Muir’s early life.
As one of the most famous naturalist and conservationists, he fought to protect the wild, natural United States.
Muir’s writings to the U.S. government helped protect Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon and Mt. Rainier as national parks.
Muir truly enjoyed the United States and its landscape. He believed that he needed to dedicate himself to the natural world.
“He undertook a 1,000 mile walk form Indiana down to the Gulf of Mexico,” Reinhardt said. “1,000 miles right down the United States. And he did it on food, by himself and his main goal was actually to stay off the roads and go through the most wild and natural parts that he could.”
The John Muir Trail is one of the premier hiking trails in the U.S. Starting at Yosemite National Park, it extends 215 miles through the Ansel Adams Wilderness, Sequoia National Park, King’s Canyon National Park and ends at the highest peak in the continental United State, Mount Whitney (14,496 ft.).
Feeling outdoorsy and want to channel your inner John Muir? Take a trip and hike a segment or two on the John Muir Trail.
Photos in above video were taken at John Muir National Monument by Kate Mills, WMAR staffer in 2013.