Colors of Coyote

Hike Among Seasonal Wildflowers at Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve


Spring in the Bay Area brings emerald-green hills and bursts of rainbow-hued wildflowers. The 4-mile Arrowhead Loop in Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve is one of the best spots for up-close views of our seasonal colors. Located 20 miles south of San Jose, this signature hike is well marked from the parking area. Follow the one-way signage for Arrowhead Loop as you ascend the grassy hillside. Deer and ground squirrels are commonly found on this stretch, and you can sometimes see the cattle brought in to eat invasive plant life.

As the grasslands give way to oak and bay trees, pops of bright yellow line the trail; golden violets, wild mustard, and buttercups. (Please stay on the marked trails to avoid trampling the flowers.) After gaining 400 feet in elevation, you’re rewarded with a beautiful vista point overlooking Morgan Hill and the Diablo Mountains.

Continue uphill and keep a sharp eye for some of our seasonal plants, from the tasty miner’s lettuce to the brilliant purple shooting stars, bluedicks, baby blue eyes, and lupine.

At the second vista point, stop and take a breather on the flower-surrounded bench, then continue up the ridge to the high point of the hike, at 875 feet. From here, you can see Lick Observatory to the northeast, and the rolling green hills stretching across the valley of Morgan Hill and Gilroy. This is a premier place to spot our state flower, the California poppy, flashing bright orange amid the grass.

It’s all downhill from here! Continue along the loop as it drops back into the valley. Half a mile from the high point is a picnic area that makes a great lunch spot with a view. As you exit the forest and return to grassland, cross the small stream to arrive at the parking lot.

To visit Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, take US-101 south and exit onto Bailey Ave. Turn left onto Santa Teresa Blvd., then right onto Palm Ave. At the end of the road, turn right into the parking lot. Hours are 7 a.m. to sunset. No dogs. NOTE: In muddy weather, trails are closed to bikes and equestrians. Be sure to check ahead.

Story and photos by Heather Werner,

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