Spring 2017 Guided Wildflower Hikes in Sonoma County
It’s that fabulous time of year once again — wildflower season in Sonoma County, with dazzling displays of California poppies, blue dicks, red larkspur, lupine, iris, bright-yellow mustard, and so many more.
With 11 state parks and 55 regional parks, it’s easy as can be to immerse yourself in wildflowers at this time. Just pick a park and go! Pack a lunch into your knapsack, hike or bike to a flower-filled meadow, and spend an hour or two taking it all in.
Or even better, take a naturalist-guided hike at a destination known for the magnificence of its wildflower blooms.
Aside from the sheer beauty you’ll discover, these guided hikes always offer added benefits — you’ll learn all kinds of fascinating facts about wildflowers, and you can ask questions of an expert.
Listed below are a few excellent hikes coming up in March and April — and most of them are free. A couple of tips:
- On all these hikes it’s a good idea to wear sturdy hiking shoes; bring water, wear a hat and sunscreen; and bring lunch, when appropriate.
- Hikes at Sonoma County Regional Parks are usually free; however, be aware that parking is $7 (it’s free for Regional Parks members).
March 14 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) and March 18 (10 a.m.-noon)
Wildflower Walk at Riverfront Regional Park
Encounter spring wildflowers like red larkspurs, shooting stars, Pacific hound’s tongues, and other remarkable blooms during a three-mile meander on Tuesday, March 14 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) and Saturday, March 18 (10 a.m.-noon). During the hike you’ll also learn about unlikely pollinators, parasitic plants, and other surprising wildflower adaptions. Free. For more information: 707-565-3080. Register here for either hike.
Riverfront Regional Park, 7821 Eastside Road, Healdsburg
March 21 (5:30-7:30 p.m.)
Wildflower Walk at Foothill Regional Park
On this three-mile hike over moderate-to-steep terrain you’ll delight in spring blooms of Douglas iris, buttercups, blue-eyed grasses, and many other beautiful wildflowers.
On this hike you’ll learn about ways in which wildflowers are used, including medicinal remedies. Free. For more information: 707-565-3080. Register here.
Foothill Regional Park, 1351 Arata Lane, Windsor
April 1 (10 a.m. -3:30 p.m.)
Wildflowers on the East Slope Trail
Join Jack London State Historic Park naturalist John Lynch for a moderately paced 12-mile nature hike on Saturday, April 1. While exploring the wonders of the Eliot Loop Trail (the East Slope trail) — opened just two years ago — you’ll enjoy fantastic views and an abundance of California poppies, lupines, and other wildflowers in bloom. (You may also meet wildlife along the way.)
Moderate elevation, suitable for ages 15 and up. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water, lunch, and binoculars. Meet in the ranch parking lot at Jack London SHP. Heavy rain cancels. Limited to 20 participants; $15/person, which includes parking. Sign up here.
Jack London State Historic Park, 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen
April 1 (10 a.m.-noon)
Wildflower Walk at Hood Mountain Regional Park
Be prepared for a vigorous two- to three-mile walk over steep terrain with spring wildflowers like Diogenes’ lanterns, checker lilies, scarlet fritillary, and other remarkable blooms.
You’ll learn about fruits, seeds, and how the next generation of wildflowers is dispersed. Meet at the Pythian Road entrance. For more information: 707-565-3080. Register here.
Hood Mountain Regional Park, 1450 N. Pythian Road, Santa Rosa
April 2, 8, 12, 22, 26, and 30
Van Hoosear Wildflower Walk
Take a walk with Sonoma Ecology Center naturalists at Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve for a spectacular wildflower display. The outing is a beginning-level walk over gently sloped land; most of the walk is through grassland rather than on trails, so the footing can be uneven. The walk crosses a few small creek channels, which sometimes have shallow water with stepping stones.
The 162-acre property in the foothills of Sonoma Mountain is protected by a conservation easement made possible by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District and the California Wildlife Conservation Board; it’s managed under a partnership with the landowner and Sonoma Ecology Center. Free. Walks fill on first-come/first-served basis, so register early here. Directions and other information will be emailed after you register.
Questions? Call 707-996-0712 x108 or email [email protected]
April 4 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) and April 8 (10 a.m.-noon)
Wildflower Walk at Crane Creek Regional Park
On this three-mile hike you’ll encounter a diverse assortment of springtime wildflowers, including California poppies, fiddlenecks, monkeyflowers, and many others. The hike occurs on two different days: Tuesday, April 4 (5:30-7:30 p.m.) and Saturday, April 8 (10 a.m.-noon). For more information: 707-565-3080. Register for either walk here.
Crane Creek Regional Park, 5000 Pressley Road, Santa Rosa
April 8 (10 a.m.-2 p.m.)
Azalea Occidentalis Hike at the Bohemia Ecological Preserve
One of the many jewels of the Bohemia Ecological Preserve is the Azalea Occidentalis or Western Azalea. Some of these plants literally tower above hikers on semi-shady trails along Duvoul and Margarets Creeks, their large pink and white flower clusters perfuming the air. This three- to four-mile hike — moderate, but with some steepness — explores two creeks on this beautiful property while seeking wildflowers along the way.
It’s a great opportunity to hike to observe native wildflowers and the preserve’s beauty. Hike is free, but donations appreciated. Meet at the preserve (staff or volunteers will direct you to parking). Wear good hiking boots, sunscreen, and a hat; bring lunch and water. For more details, visit this page. Questions? Email [email protected].
Bohemia Ecological Preserve, 6773 Bohemian Highway, Occidental
April 15 (10 a.m.-noon)
Wildflower Walk at Taylor Mountain Regional Park
Encounter amazing views while observing purple sanicles, yarrows, meadows of lupine, and many other blooms on this three-mile hike. You’ll also discover the benefits of incorporating native wildflowers into your own landscaping. For more information: 707-565-3080. Register for either walk here.
Taylor Mountain Regional Park, 3820 Petaluma Hill Road, Santa Rosa