Wildflower Hikes in the Bay Area 2012


Wildflower Woot!

Wildflower season is just getting underway and the blooms are a bit shy after a dry winter. So we're combining them with wildlife, wineries, and an adventure that'll take you way back. Woot!

Morgan Territory Hike

Good Morgan

Remote and wild, Morgan Territory Regional Preserve is a throwback to what California must have looked like waaayyy back in the day. Set at 2,000 feet in the southeastern edge of Mount Diablo State Park, this area doesn't see many visitors, making it memorably tranquil for those who actually get there. A lot of the hiking trails are exposed, making spring an ideal time to visit. It's also when wildflowers start popping along the wind-whipped grassland. Early season bloomers include buttercups, milkmaids, and blue-eyed grass. See them on a 4.7-mile loop hike combining the Volvon, Blue Oak, Stone Corral, and Coyote trails. Towering Mount Diablo dominates the northern skyline and the Blue Oak Trail skirts along the east side of the park, offering impressive views clear across the Central Valley to the snowcapped Sierra. The final 1.5 miles on the Coyote Trail climbs a narrow rocky canyon lined with bay, manzanita, and oak trees. Wild open spaces are where it's at!

Visit Morgan Territory's Web site for directions to the preserve. From the main parking lot, start hiking the Volvon Trail. After .5-mile, reach an intersection with Whipsnake Trail; go left, then turn right onto Blue Oak Trail. After 2 miles, Blue Oak Trail intersects Volvon Trail again, turn right and continue on the Volvon Trail. Stay on Volvon Trail until it reaches the Stone Corral Trail. Turn left on the Stone Corral Trail. After .5-mile, reach the Coyote Trail where you turn left. Follow this back to the trailhead and parking lot. Dog-friendly!

Audubon Canyon Ranch Martin Griffin Preserve

Egrets and Irises

Every spring two things reliably return to Audubon Canyon Ranch's Martin Griffin Preserve: great egrets and wildflowers. The annual nesting and mating season for egrets typically gets underway during late March to early April. Toss in a colorful array of hundreds of wildflowers, and this 1,000-acre preserve by Stinson Beach really gets wild! Hike a 3.5-mile loop into the less-traveled back reaches of the park via the Zumie and Griffin loop trails. The Zumie Loop Trail brings you past bright purple patches of Douglas irises on a 600-foot climb. Views of the Bolinas Lagoon and Stinson Beach get broader with each step. At the top, take a break on the large wooden chaise bench. The trail continues through a beautiful redwood forest in Garden Club Canyon, where recent rains have the creek churning. Returning on the Griffin Loop Trail, stop at the newly constructed Henderson Overlook. This offers an ideal vantage for spotting the great egrets. You might even see them in action…that's courting dances, nest-building, and, later on, egg-hatching. Bloomiful!

Audubon Canyon Ranch's Martin Griffin Preserve is located about 4 miles north of Stinson Beach on Hwy. 1. The preserve is open weekends and holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. until mid-July. A monetary donation is requested upon visiting. Pick up a map at the entrance and follow the Zumie and Griffin Loop trails. No dogs. 

Russian Ridge Wildflower Hike

Wow Factor

On a springtime "wow" factor—a scientific equation dividing the numbers of "wows" by the number of people on the trails, multiplied by wildflower sightings, plus après wine-tasting—the Peninsula's Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve is near the top of the list. For a moderate 5-miler that pairs wildflowers and amazing views, start on the Ridge Trail. From 2,500 feet, Half Moon Bay beckons, and Silicon Valley and the Bay shine beneath a series of cascading hills. Poppies and hound's tongue are the most noticeable blooms, but keep an eye out for Johnny-jump-ups that may be leaping for attention. Descend the ridge by making a left onto Hawk Trail. Soon you'll be winding through a furry green grove of knotty and twisted oak trees—some with branches so thick they make good seats for taking a break. Afterward, head to Thomas Fogarty Winery just a few miles up the road. Sample estate pinots in their tasting room and take in even more views—from Palo Alto to Mount Hamilton. It all adds up to: Wow.

Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve is west of Palo Alto on Highway 35. For directions, visit the Web site. Pick up a map from the kiosk in the parking lot and walk up the Ridge Trail. After .5-mile, follow the sign left toward the Ancient Oaks Trail. Turn right after .8-mile, following more signs to get onto Ancient Oaks. After 1.5 miles, turn right onto the Mindego Ridge Trail. Turn right at the next junction, following the sign toward the Ridge Trail. At the following junction, turn right onto the Ridge Trail and follow the wide fire road up to Borel Hill. The parking lot is another .75-mile down the trail. No dogs. Thomas Fogarty Winery, 19501 Skyline Blvd., Woodside; 650-851-6777. The winery is 2.5 miles north on Highway 35. Open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It's $8 to taste three wines and $12 to taste five wines.

The Best Bike Rides on Earth

The Amgen Tour of California. The Tour de France. If it's always been your dream to cycle the same route as one of these grand stage races, then meet inGamba. Founded by a former pro rider, this San Francisco-based organization is revolutionizing bike travel with all-inclusive food & culture cycling tours that are perfection on wheels. You'll roll on the finest machines available (Pinarello Dogma 2s) with like-minded people—including famous pros who like to join rides—on the most scenic roads, with just enough challenge to earn the post-ride gourmet food and glass (or three) of wine at places you won't find in tourist books. inGamba offers tours throughout Europe, but they've also got stellar tours coming up right here in the Bay Area, including following the Amgen Tour of California this May!

SAVE: Weekend Sherpa cyclists get 10% off any of these tours. inGamba keeps their tours to 12 people or less, and they sell out! Simply mention Weekend Sherpa when you book your trip.

Amgen Tour of California: 4- or 8-day trip options in May. 
inGamba will be following the race, riding some of the best roads along the course. Wine and dine and hang with the pros before and after the stages.

Looking for a shorter weekend ride? Join inGamba's Marin Weekender (May 25–27) or Sonoma Weekender (June 1–3). From the Russian River to Mount Tam, you'll follow classic routes, with meals at Michelin-starred restaurants.

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