Russ Beebe, a.k.a. @winehiker on Twitter, has been chasing wildflowers and leading hikes through the Peninsula for half his life. Beebe says that while the rains have already made for a spectacular wildflower season down in SoCal, blooms are beginning to appear up north. On the Peninsula, wildflower season typically lands between March and May, so the time to catch a glimpse is now!
What are the best hikes to see this wildflower wonder in the 650? Here are a few of Russ’ top spots:
A local favorite, even for oldtimers. Lots of mixed hardwood forest and grassy open space making lots of opportunities to spot wildflowers like shooting stars, babystars and Western Star Flower, plus Tidy Tips, Hound’s Tongue, Mule-ears and at least two varieties of gilia. In the drier chaparral areas, you’ll find Blue Witch Nightshade, Indian Warrior, suncups and buttercups.
In the high grassland and along the oak-lined trails you’ll have the chance to see flowers of many different colors such as Milk Maids, pink-flowering currants, vetch and wild rose, plus the ubiquitous poppies and lupines which are endemic to the Peninsula and much of the California coastal range. But to see the real attraction of the preserve, take Crazy Pete’s Trail to spot one of only three waterfalls in the 650.
For a totally wild experience, take the Summit Loop Trail (3.5 miles). During the Spring months, the marine layer blows through San Francisco creating an environment that both wildflowers and butterflies love. You’ll see a variety of color and form in the wildflowers that bloom on the mountain, including monkeyflower, cow parsnip, lupine, buttercup, manroot, blue dicks, Douglas iris, California poppies and Indian paintbrush. And, if you’re lucky, you may find yourself surrounded by the Mission Blue and two other species of rare and endangered butterflies!