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Six Sure-Fire Wildflower Hikes

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Spring 2000 - Summary

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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


Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve
(Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District)

This hike starts with a level, boring stretch on the Cordilleras trail, an easement beside a water department road.

Fetid adder's tongue, Pulgas Ridge
Fetid adder's tongue, Pulgas Ridge
Photo by Tim Oren
After 0.6 miles, bear off right onto the Polly Geraci trail (a 1988 Trail Center project) and turn almost immediately left on a bridge over Cordilleras Creek. Along the first stretch of trail, look for red giant trillium (Trillium chloropetalum), Indian warriors (Pedicularis densiflora), and Fendler's meadowrue (Thalictrum fendleri). As you begin to climb up switchbacks, you will come into the best Bay Area location we have found for Calif. fetid adder's tongue (or slink-pods) (Scoliopus bigelovii). There are also prominent displays of large (or fat) false solomon's seal (Smilacina racemosa), blooming mid- to late March, and batches of milkmaids (Cardamine californica) and Western (or Pacifc) hound's tongue (Cynoglossum grande). The Polly Geraci trail runs into chaparral about two-thirds up the hill, and continues up to meet an old blacktopped road.
      (If you miss this park in March, try early June instead. Look for golden brodiaea (Triteleia ixioides) lower on the trail, pitcher sage (Lepechinia calycina) in the chaparral, and try to spot scattered Indian pinks (or Calif. scarlet campion) (Silene californica) near the top.)
      Walk down the paved road keeping to the right, and passing introduced plants - eucalyptus, acacia, and prickly pear. About a third of the way down the hill, turn onto the hiker-only Blue Oak trail.

Indian pinks, Pulgas Ridge
Indian pinks, Pulgas Ridge
Photo by Tim Oren
Here you will find the hike's best stands of both Indian warrior and hound's tongue. The trail delivers you onto Edmonds road, where you turn left to return to the car.
      For a demonstration of the subtle effects of Bay Area geology, follow this walk with a loop hike of the Sylvan trail in Edgewood Park (OK, I'll mention it just once.) This two-mile walk takes off from the Day Camp parking area, just east of the Crestview turn from Edgewood Road. While you'll find abundant fetid adder's tongue and milkmaids on the Polly Geraci trail, both are scarce on the Sylvan Loop, even though they share similar topography. The soil of both of these areas is weathered from sandstone, but the stone in Edgewood is Franciscan greywacke, while that in Pulgas is probably from the Whiskey Hill formation, and that's enough to make the difference.

Getting there: From I-280, take the Edgewood Road exit eastbound for about a mile. Turn left onto Crestview, then immediately left onto Edmonds. Park at a pullout near a gate and preserve sign.

Hike distance and elevation change: 2.5-mile loop, 400'

Best time for flowers: early to mid-March, but nice in June as well

On the Web:Pulgas Ridge OSP on the MROSD site or on the Portolá site

<== Back 3 of 7 Next ==>

Six Sure-Fire Wildflower Hikes
San Pedro Valley County Park
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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