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The Trail Companion (ISSN 1528-0241 (print); 1094-222X (online)) is the quarterly newsletter of the Trail Center.

Editor: Scott Heeschen
Staff Writer: Geoffrey Skinner

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The Trail Companion

Spring 2000

Theme: San Francisco Bay Area Wildflowers

Six Sure-Fire Wildflower Hikes


San Pedro Valley County Park
(San Mateo County)

From the parking lot and visitors' center, cross the bridge toward the picnic area. Walk past the horseshoe pits, cross over a gravel road, and turn uphill on the Valley View trail. Going up the hill, watch for blue eyed-grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) and sun cups (Camissonia ovata).

White 'bluedicks' (Dichelostemma), San Pedro
White 'bluedicks' (Dichelostemma), San Pedro
Photo by Tim Oren
Near the last westward switchback, we have sometimes noted an apparent white variant of 'bluedicks' (Dichelostemma capitatum) - see if you can find it! As the trail leaves the open stand of eucalyptus, you'll be exposed to any fog or wind from the Pacific. Coming up to the back of the ridge above open meadows, there are clusters of intensely blue central coast iris (or Rocky Mountain iris) (Iris longipetala) and great views back to the Pacifica beaches. As the trail reaches its high point and undulates eastward, look for displays of red and yellow Franciscan paintbrush (Castilleja subinclusa ssp. franciscana) - the best we've seen in the Bay Area. The Valley View trail now falls in switchbacks down the ridge. The fast changes of climate between sunny switchback and shaded gully give a good chance of seeing many different species.
      When you reach the road again, turn right to return to the parking lot.

Franciscan paintbrush, San Pedro
Franciscan paintbrush, San Pedro
Photo by Tim Oren
Or, for a longer hike, turn left along the meadow, cross the creek and turn uphill on the Hazelnut trail (labeled Big Canyon on some maps) to the right. This trail switchbacks up through tall, lush coastal scrub - and is often a bit overgrown. At this time of year, the coastal blueblossom ceanothus (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus) should be in bloom. Also, watch low along the trail edge for Pacific starflower (Trientalis latifolia) and fringe cups (Tellima grandiflora). This side of the valley seems to be more variable depending on the rainfall and temperatures of the year, but there's always something. Unfortunately, the downhill return of the loop lies largely through a stand of eucalyptus that offers less variety. It brings you down behind the visitor center, where useful displays and helpful rangers can help you identify what you've seen.

Getting there: From Highway 1 at the south end of Pacifica, turn east onto Linda Mar Blvd and drive to its end at the park entrance.

Hike distance and elevation change: 2-mile loop, 600' (5.4 mile loop, 1400' total on alternate extension)

Best time for flowers: early to mid-April

On the Web:San Pedro County Park on the San Mateo County Parks site or on the Portolá site

<== Back 2 of 7 Next ==>

Six Sure-Fire Wildflower Hikes
Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve
Wilder Ranch State Park
Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
Joseph D. Grant County Park
Sunol Regional Wilderness
A Few More Wildflower Tips
Identifying the Mystery Plant
Wildflower and Plant Guides - Web and Electronic Resources

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