The place where Redwood Creek meets the Pacific Ocean at Muir Beach has been the site of a major effort to bring back a healthy creek and wetland system Kirke Wrench/National Park Service
Redwood Creek begins high on Mt. Tamalpais, flowing down the mountain through the ancient redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument before meeting the Pacific Ocean at Muir Beach. This place where the creek meets the sea was once home to thriving stream, lagoon, and dune ecosystems.
However, a century of farming and development had moved the creek from its natural alignment, filled it with sediment, and disconnected it from its floodplain. As a result, the whole system no longer functioned the way it was supposed to. In particular, it could not accommodate high winter storm flows, which flooded local roads and put the young endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout that live there in peril.
In 2009, the Parks Conservancy and National Park Service launched a multi-year project to repair this past damage and re-create a self-sustaining system. Completed in 2014, the 46-acre project improved habitat for endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout, established breeding habitats for threatened California red-legged frogs, decreased flooding on nearby roads, and made several improvements to visitor access and interpretive experiences.
Young coho need the relative calm of floodplain waters to shelter from strong winter storm flows that may otherwise wash them out to seaJessica Weinberg-McClosky/Parks Conservancy
Key Project Accomplishments
California red-legged frog numbers have soared thanks to restored breeding ponds and the relocation of egg masses and adult frogs
Improved floodplain connectivity and side-channel areas now provide essential winter habitat for endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout
Tens of thousands of seedlings—grown at the nearby Redwood Creek Nursery and planted by staff and volunteers—have created a diverse cover of native wetland and creek bank vegetation
Broad areas of the site previously overrun with invasive, nonnative species now host healthy native plant communities
Protective dunes are rebuilding naturally after fences were installed and a beach access trail was relocated and improved
A new 235-foot pedestrian bridge over the wetlands and creek is large enough to let floodwaters pass throughAlison Taggart-Barone/Parks Conservancy
A rotated and repaved parking lot no longer juts out into and blocks the floodplain
Floodplain improvements and work on and near Pacific Way have reduced flooding on the road
A new Coastal Trail alignment improves access and has helped restore natural drainage patterns and reduce sediment into the creek
An accessible route was created from the parking lot to the beach, and beach wheelchairs are available for check-out
Special interpretive signs and programming highlight the uniqueness of the site, including its Coast Miwok history
A fully accessible cast-bronze model details every contour of the Redwood Creek Watershed from the top of Mt. Tamalpais down to Muir Beach
Join the team helping keep Muir Beach vibrant!
Thousands of people have been active stewards at this site, studying ecosystem changes, counting juvenile coho salmon, searching for frog egg masses, planting native species, removing weeds, tracking river otters, and more. Learn about our regular drop-in volunteer program and how you can be a part of Muir Beach’s bright future!
A team of regular volunteers, as well as those who just drop in for the day, are helping to continue the restoration of Muir BeachAlison Taggart-Barone/Parks Conservancy
This project would not have been possible without the support of partners such as the San Francisco Zen Center and the community of Muir Beach. In addition to donations from thousands of individual community members, the restoration of Muir Beach received support from:
Make a special year-end gift and it will DOUBLE up to $250,000!
More than ever, people are thankful for parks. Now is your chance to give them twice as much gratitude. From now until December 31 your special gift to the Parks Conservancy will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $250,000!
Learn about amazing wildlife, new trails and visitor amenities, fascinating people, expert-recommended hikes, and upcoming park events—all delivered to your inbox, for free.
Subscribe to the Parks Conservancy's monthly e-newsletter, Park E-ventures, for the latest updates from your favorite national park.