Are you ready for spring yet? This week has FINALLY started to suggest that we might be heading towards spring and leaving behind all the rain for the season. Yay for filling up reservoirs and all, but COME ON ALREADY. Nevertheless, we shall demonstrate hope for the very near future by focusing on some wildflower options that will be supported and encouraged by all this rain. Northern California wildflower season is a little later than our Southern California neighbors, so you don’t need to get all jealous of the Lake Elsinore pictures your So Cal friends have been posting– our best (if fleeting) wildflowers are showing up NOW, with a good few weeks still to come! Plan for some hikes in the next few weeks and make sure your camera has some memory left for all the pictures you’ll be taking…
Following are a few of our favorite trails and then we’ll share a bunch of link round-up articles, should you desire further options.
Our current favorite springtime hiking destination is Black Diamond Mines. We were there on Saturday. As mentioned before, you can add all the miles you want in Black Diamond, but we saw tons of beauties on the very short Stewartville-Carbondale-Saddle trail loop. Remember– there are no flat trails in Black Diamond Mines, but also– there are few trails that do not provide stunning views. (And the mine tour is now open again, for those of you with hikers above age 7!)
If you hate people, we recommend the Pinole Valley Watershed. Yesterday’s jaunt was carried out in complete solitude (well, except for the cows). Who wouldn’t want to sit on that bench and gaze out towards Mount Tamalpais?
For hikes that involve food, try Sun trail to the Mountain Home Inn (you can start from the Dipsea steps, or make it shorter by starting on Panoramic by Sun Trail). Another good food/beer option is Miller Knox Regional Park— some good climbs but some of the best views in the Bay Area, and looks like some good wildflowers right now.
For Mount Diablo, you could drive all the way up to the summit and then take Summit trail down for a ways (but then you have to go back up to finish, and that’s never fun for anyone). Mitchell Canyon to Eagle Peak and back is beautiful, but tough– it’s 3.5 steep miles up to the top of Eagle Peak, so be warned. If you are trying for a meander, take Mitchell Canyon road until it starts climbing. (At some point, we’ll do a write up of Mount Diablo trail options, we promise.)
Those are our personal favorites, but here are some round-ups with suggestions from different districts: Midpeninsula Regional Open Space has one of the best guides with suggested trails for the best parks. Santa Clara County Parks put together a short but sweet pamphlet with pictures of wildflowers and suggested parks. One of the Open Space rangers of Marin County put together this list for Marin.
This weekend is wildflower festival time! April 13th & 14th offer two different Bay Area wildflower festivals! April 13th is Coastal Wildflower Day in Half Moon Bay and April 14th is Sunol Regional Park’s annual Wildflower festival. Both are free to attend but parking is not ($10 for HMB and $5 for Sunol).
Should you want to know what you’re looking at, try a wildflower guide! The East Bay Regional Parks have this handy guide, divided by park, so you can just click on the park you visited and they’ll tell you what kind of flowers you probably saw.
There are SO MANY ways to see wildflowers– we encourage you to get out and try a new park this year (no Tilden, in other words)- your Instagram game will be much better if you get lots of “@yournamemention– where IS this? It’s so beautiful!” Have any particular trails you recommend? Share in the comments!
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