Conservationist and Sierra Club member John Muir used to come home to Martinez, 30 miles east of San Francisco and near Walnut Creek, after roaming through the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains. With just a knapsack containing his journal and a packet of tea, the intrepid adventurer, geologist, botanist, and mountaineer sailed through the Sierra and most of the West, a stark contrast to his luxurious upper-class mansion with a bell tower and clean orchards.
You will visit the three-story, 17-room Victorian site at the John Muir National Historic Site, where Muir lived with his wife and two daughters from 1890 until his death in 1914. Muir's father-in-law, John Strentzel, a well-regarded horticulturist and fruit rancher, designed the grand Italianate-style home. The ornate structure represents Strentzel's taste much more than Muir's, and that of his daughter, Muir's wife Louisa.
Watch the 20-minute film A Glorious Journey at the site, which details the life and achievements of Muir, then take the stairs to the upper floor to see his belongings and objects in the study, including the writing desk where some of his most important works were drawn up by Muir. Go outside to explore, then do as Muir might have done. The 1849 Martinez Adobe, a Spanish Colonial building that was part of this original Mexican land grant, lies beyond the fruit orchards. In the first-floor rooms, check out the display that tells the interesting story of the Spanish Anza Expedition, 240 men, women, and children who traveled up the coast of California in 1775.
His walk from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico in 1867 was one of Muir's most famous adventures, immortalized in his posthumously published 1916 book, A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf. Follow a much shorter trail that Muir frequently walked to celebrate the amazing feat: a one-mile tromp to the summit of two hills, Mount Wanda and Mount Helen, named after the daughters of Muir. The climb offers an inspiring panorama that includes 3,848-foot Mount Diablo and Contra Costa County's rolling hills, a view Muir always shared with his girls. Park rangers lead guided evening hikes from May to October to watch the full moon rise from Mount Wanda's summit.
This hidden gem in Concord, California is located near some other must-see places of interest:
- The Galindo Home
- Markham Nature Park & Arboretum
- Don Fernando Pacheco Adobe
- Historical Eichler Homes of Concord
- Salvio Pacheco Square
- Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial
- De Martini Winery
- Rodgers Ranch Heritage Center
All of these wonderful - but not so well known - attractions are located just a short distance from our location at 1261 Locust Street in Walnut Creek, California! Stop by for a visit anytime!