The Best Hikes for Seeing Flowers in Bloom in the Bay Area
There are few places more romantic and whimsical than a field of spring wildflowers. Fortunately for us Bay Area folk, we have quite a few to choose from, each with their own unique mix of colors and textures. With the heavy rains this winter followed by our famous California sunshine, there should be plenty of flowers to go around this year.
Edgewood Park (Redwood City)
Edgewood Park is celebrated as the go-to destination for wildflower lovers in the Bay Area. Relax as you hike through acres of rolling hills and lush meadows, filled with a rainbow of spring color. If you’re curious to learn more about the native plants and wildlife, Edgewood Park typically leads free guided hikes from March to June every Saturday and Sunday. You can also check out the Friends of Edgewood website for an up-to-date list of flower species that are typically blooming in a given month.
Henry W. Coe State Park (Morgan Hill)
A working cattle ranch in the late 1800s, Henry W. Coe State Park is now a hiker’s paradise with an impressive variety of native wildflowers. This state park is also the largest in northern California and boasts miles of rugged landscape. The park website even has flower species conveniently organized by color, so whether you prefer purple, yellow, blue, or pink, you can plan your visit to ensure you see blooms in your favorite hues.
Point Reyes National Seashore (Point Reyes)
About an hour and a half north of San Francisco, Point Reyes hosts a variety of wildflower species from February through June. According to the Point Reyes website, “wildflowers can be viewed in nearly every plant community found within the park, but are best seen at Abbotts Lagoon, Chimney Rock and Tomales Point.” The flowers also attract many species of moths and butterflies, which are most abundant during the spring. As tempting as it may be, remember to refrain from picking the wildflowers. In national parks, wildflowers are actually protected by law and visitors are prohibited from picking them or walking through them off of marked trails.
Wilder State Park (Santa Cruz)
Lupines, poppies, wild irises, and monkey flowers are just a few of the beauties to be found during springtime at Wilder Ranch State Park. Enjoy stunning coastal views while admiring blooming fields and mountains. Wilder Ranch is also a great place for mountain biking. Try the coastal loops for more of a nature walk, or head to the hills for a more strenuous workout. The park is located on Highway 1 just north of Santa Cruz with a clearly visible sign directing visitors to the parking lot.
Mount Madonna County Park (Watsonville)
Mount Madonna County Park is located in Watsonville and comes alive with wildflowers in late winter. Much of the 4,605-acre park is redwood forest, but there are plenty of grassy meadows for wildflower viewing as well. Mount Madonna even has its very own stables, which are open year-round, so you have the option of exploring the trails on horseback. If one day doesn’t seem like enough time to enjoy the 20-plus miles of trails, make reservations ahead of time and spend the night at one of Mount Madonna’s four campgrounds.
Rancho Del Oso (Davenport)
To get to Rancho del Oso, drive north on Highway 1 past Santa Cruz for about 17 miles. Rancho del Oso is part of Big Basin State Park, which strecthes from the coast all the way up to the mountain town of Boulder Creek. While most of the hikes here are long and strenuous, there’s one trail that offers an easy loop with great wildflower viewing. The Skyline to the Sea Bypass Trail Loop is three miles total and rated moderate in difficulty. The park website suggests planning about one-and-a-half to two hours to do the whole loop. For those of you who are more adventurous, consider taking a few days to backpack the entire Skyline to Sea trail. You’re guaranteed to see an awesome array of both flowers and wildlife.
Mount Diablo (Walnut Creek)
Some Mount Diablo wildflowers, like the tiny pink manzanitas, begin blooming as early as December. However, most of the flowers peak around March and April. California poppies bloom on Mount Diablo almost all year round. To play it safe and have the best chance of seeing a variety of flowers, plan your visit for early spring.
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