5 SF Bay Area Trails to Hike That Are Painted With Wildflowers

“Hey Siri, play ‘Flowers’ by Miley Cyrus.” Because we can think of no better way to start an SF Bay Area hike that’s brimming with wildflowers.

Yes, reader: It’s nearing that time of the year to don your floral getups to color coordinate with the thriving flora around you. Given the amount of rain we’ve received thus far — with more of it on the way, very soon — it’s going to be a golden year for wildflower walks in the region. You know… once the ground has dried and is conducive to walking.

Here in the Bay Area, our temperate climate and nutrient-dense soils give way to some of the most awe-inspiring blooms anywhere in the country. In fact: Our slice of Northern California is no stranger to super bloom events — much like the one that happened in Half Moon Bay back in 2021, brimmed swaths of yellow poppies as far as the eye could see — which have become Instagram darlings.

To help you commune with Mother Nature’s seasonal color palette, we’ve put together our five favorite Bay Area hiking trail destinations that’ll put you shoulder-to-shoulder with wildflowers. (But remember to admire these flowers from afar and practice the principles of leave no trace, so those flower beds will be around for future nature lovers.)

1. Windy Hill’s Anniversary Trail

Photo: Flickr/btwashburn

Located in the South Bay near Portola Valley, Windy Hill has a ton of trails you could choose— but the one you absolutely need to walk down is the Anniversary Trail. Set an alarm early, lace up your shoes, and drive up into the hills, and park in the main lot, which opens 30 minutes before sunrise; this will give you enough time to make your way up to the peak through the wildflower-scattered trails and watch the sunrise over the Bay.

Visit AllTrails for more info.

2. Point Reyes’ Chimney Rock Trail

Photo: Flickr/Pic16Bit

This easy, two-mile out-and-back hike snakes along coastal cliffs and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean (as well as migrating humpback and blue whales and herds of elephant seals). The trail erupts with blossoms from February through August, featuring a kaleidoscope of California buttercups and poppies, pale pink checkerblooms, and more.

Visit AllTrails for more info.

3. Russian Ridge Open Preserve’s namesake trail

Photo: Flickr/mjmonty

This 3,000-acre preserve in Redwood City is full of lush greenery and rolling hills that offer scenic glimpses of the Pacific. Wildflowers start to come into the picture around early February — poppies, blue lupine, and fuchsia currant bush blossoms are just a few of the natural flora to sprout inside the green space.

Blackberry bushes are abundant here and heading up to the park’s highest point at Borel Hill will afford you sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay, as well as the Pacific Ocean to the west.

Visit AllTrails for more info.

4. Sunol’s Little Yosemite Hike

Photo: Flickr/Images by John ‘K’

Lovingly dubbed “Little Yosemite,” this 2.2-mile, out-and-back trail in Sunol (a small town between Fremont and Pleasanton in the East Bay) is a must-walk for nature lovers looking for some off-the-beaten-path Bay Area hiking. If you start your trek at the Visitor’s Center, you can view a map of the land and find the passage that’ll lead you to the Canyon View Trail.

Taking the round-trip hike gives you spectacular views of the wildflower-soaked canyon that may also feature the occasional waterfall.

Visit AllTrails for more info.

5. Mount Diablo’s North Peak Trail

Photo: Flickr/jacksonwwightman

Mount Diablo is arguably East Bay’s most scenic, picturesque green space (that just so happens to be perched nearly 4,000 feet above sea level). Those who trek up are rewarded with panoramic views of the Bay Area. Along the way, the oak- and pine-lined trail is shouldered with monkeyflower, poppies, purple Chinese houses, and more.

If you’re lucky, you’ll come across the striking lemon-yellow bulbs of Mount Diablo fairy lanterns, a rare lily that only blooms here.

Visit AllTrails for info.

Feature image: Courtesy of Flickr via Matthew Dillon

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