ECI Staff Picks for the Best Wildflowers Destinations in Northern California
El Niño brought a lot of great storms and the Sierra snow pack is up dramatically compared to last year. Those heavy rains have saturated the soil and spurred one of best wildflowers seasons in years. Death Valley received a lot of attention this year for their amazing blooms. You don’t have to go that far to enjoy amazing hikes. Many of our project sites are exploding with color and have inspired our team to share their favorites. Here are a few staff recommendations to get out and enjoy:
1. Edgewood Wildflower Walks near Redwood City - Edgewood’s serpentine grasslands are renowned throughout California for their lush wildflower carpets and rich biodiversity. Free walks are led by docents at Edgewood Park and vary according to what’s in bloom. The walk covers about 3 miles, at a moderate pace with frequent stops. Walks start from the Bill & Jean Lane Education Center. Bring water, a hat, sturdy shoes, sunscreen, and a snack if you wish. Walks don’t stop for lunch, but picnic tables are usually available after the walks in the Old Stage Day Camp area.
2. Dispea Trail in Marin - This trail is perfect for everyone. It starts down by the ocean and steadily climbs through old oak groves. After the fern covered oak groves the trail opens up to blue skies and steep grasslands facing the ocean at a 45 degree angle. The trail hugs the hills and eventually dips back into beautiful redwoods and pops back into meadows and vistas.
3. Table Mountain Ecological Reserve near Oroville Lake – Created by ancient lava (basalt) flows, the approximately 3,300 acre North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve is an elevated basalt mesa with beautiful vistas of spring wildflowers, waterfalls, lava outcrops, and a rare type of vernal pool called Northern Basalt Flow Vernal Pools. Typically fissures in the basalt soak up winter rains, forming seasonal streams and waterfalls. In a few places, however, the underlying basalt is impermeable to water forming a temporary pool. Soon to dry up after rains end, only specialized plants and animals adapted to this habitat can survive over time.
4. Henry Coe State Park through the Dowdy Ranch Entrance – There are great views looking east and north to the hills of the Diablo Range. The landscape looks almost did when early explorers like Juan Bautista de Anza traversed it in 1775.