John Muir was famous for his contribution to naturalism in the 1800’s. He was one of the founding members of the Sierra Club, a major environmental organization that is still prevalent today. A famous 211 hiking trail in the Sierra Nevada is named after him, but if you are not to canny on flying out there, or cannot stomach the thought of hiking 211 miles through rough terrain, then fear naught, for there is another John Muir trail in our very own Van Cortlandt Park.
The John Muir is one of the major trails running through Van Cortlandt, and is the only East-West trail, allowing patrons to have easier access to the park’s amenities and natural wildlife. Van Cortlandt is teeming with a variety of plants, animals, arachnoids and insects. The beauty of the park might be scathed by the multiple roadways running through it, but John Muir would be proud to know that we at the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are aiming to improve the John Muir Trail’s aesthetics and accessibility (more about that in our next blogpost).
John Muir was born and raised in Scotland, but moved to the United States with his family in 1849 starting his new life in rural Wisconsin. He became especially fond of botany during his college years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Later on, while working at a sawmill, Muir lost his eyesight for six weeks after a tool slipped from his hands and struck him in the eyes. When he regained his vision, Muir decided he would follow his passion and new found love for all things nature led him to hike 1000 miles from Indiana to the gulf of Florida. His adventures led him to Cuba where he studied the natural plant life on the island. Finally, John Muir settled in San Francisco, allowing him to observe, Yosemite Park for the first time.
When Muir first laid eyes on the famous national park he was awestruck by the natural wonder that is Yosemite. He loved the park so much he built a log cabin in the park and lived there for two years. He became a natural fixture of the park and soon gained recognition for his knowledge of all things within Yosemite.
Today, he is one of the most well known founders of the early environmental and natural movement. He even met with Theodore Roosevelt in a bid to change ownership of the Yosemite to the national government, which Roosevelt eventually approved. While John Muir never actually got the chance to visit Van Cortlandt Park in his lifetime, but eventually the trail was named after him in honor of his achievements as one of America’s first advocate of the national park and preservation movement.