Y’all, it’s officially Wildflower Szn. It’s a time of the year that regardless of whatever unbinds two people, they can each agree that wildflower spotting across San Francisco (and elsewhere in the SF Bay Area region) serves as an endless well of joy.
From the mist-shrouded San Francisco Bay area to the deserts of Arizona near the Mexican border, there are flashes of color popping up after an unusually wet winter produced a so-called “Superbloom." https://t.co/UdzHusQk3e pic.twitter.com/WrE0tgeu1i
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 16, 2023
As a result of the historically epic atmospheric rivers we’ve experienced — the same weather events responsible for pulling California out of most drought conditions, leaving less than 10% of the state experiencing “moderate” levels of drought — wildflowers have painted our local hillsides. And far earlier than usual. And, hopefully, for a bit longer than we’d expect.
(Wildflower season in CA generally begins at the end of February, capable of lasting until mid-June under optimal conditions. The latter statement is unequivocally true at the moment.)
With the weekend on our heels, use these two days to commune with Mother Nature’s more floral characteristics. Even if you, San Franciscan, can’t, say, travel to wildflower hotspots in the region, there are places within the seven-by-seven to see these gorgeous beds of eye-popping petals.
Peruse some of our favorite hyperlocal go-to spots to sequester some floral contentment.
(Most of) the trails that crisscross the Presidio
Let’s not forget that San Francisco’s 1,491-acre Presidio contains some of the best trailheads anywhere in the municipality. Take for example the 2.4-mile California Coast Trail, which puts you in the way of green envy and pastel tropes. The same can also be said of the 1.4-mi. Ecology Trail… that has bonus redwoods (and another overlook over the San Francisco Bay).
Marin Headlands… Because the Marin Headlands
Of course, this elevated perch overlooking San Francisco had to be included in our round-up… if for no other reason than the great year-round views of the Golden Gate Bridge. Come April, that viewshed is accentuated with flowers, popeyes contrasting the rust-red metal of the bridge and complimenting the orange Pantones of a clear SF sunset.
Trek over to Fort Cronkhite Beach (and elsewhere around that area) to see some of Marin Headlands’ best wildflower displays. Afterward? Check out the newly revamped Marine Mammal Center too — the largest marine mammal hospital in the entire world.
Basically anywhere along Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay
Arguably the most scenic, gorgeous, prepossessing highway in the entire county just so happens to exist in our slice of the United States — namely, Northern California. Barring a few SoCal stretches of the 655.8-mile-long road, some of the best places to spot wildflowers through a car/bus window exist around Half Moon Bay. (The area’s famous mustard field is currently in full bloom, sitting just a few miles south of Cowell Ranch Beach.)
Remember: Should you decide to park somewhere safe along Highway 1 to get a closer look at the chromatic flower beds, respect the fields and practice the principles of Leave No Trace.
Cascade Canyon Open Space Preserve in Orville is a must-visit
Right near Corte Madera Creek, the Cascade Canyon Open Space Preserve is a Fairfax jewel. It’s already well-known for its resident and migratory bird watching — but it also contains 504 acres of hill country. And it’s usually painted with all manner of oranges, reds, and blues during the SF Bay Area’s wildflower season which usually falls between mid-April to early-June.
Pro Tip: We *strongly suggest* hiking on the Tamarancho Trail — either in its 9.1-mile totality or taking a more manageable section of it — to see the many sorts of pastel-colored wildflowers canvassing the highlands.
Don’t forget that Henry Coe State Park exists
FYI: California’s second-largest state park is made up of more than 87,000 acres of canyons and creeks and forests and fields. An evergreen draw, Henry Coe State Park is punctuated with tree lines that seem to be one for eons; riverbeds spill into bodies of water outsight our eyesight; blankets of the blossoms that come booming to life around this time of year.
Yes, reader: Walk the three-mile Spring and Forest Trail loop to see a palette of sun-warmed petals painting the landscape in all directions.
Feature image: Courtesy of Bureau of Land Management California via Flickr