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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


Sunol Regional Wilderness
(East Bay Regional Parks District)

From the parking lot, go behind the park buildings to find the bridge to the other side of Alameda Creek. Crossing the bridge, turn right on the dirt road, and pass by the Hayfield Road heading uphill left.

Johnnytuck (Orthocarpus), Sunol
Johnnytuck (Orthocarpus), Sunol
Photo by Tim Oren
Continue on until the crossing of Indian Joe Creek, when your path narrows to a single track and starts up hill. Shortly you will come to a junction, turn left onto Indian Joe Creek Trail, which soon drops off the ridge into the valley of Indian Joe Creek. If you haven't encountered them already, here you should find buttercups and miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata - also known as Montia perfoliata) in abundance. (Miner's lettuce, by the way, is quite edible - hence the name. Try it in a salad, or stir fried with a little oyster sauce.). As the trail works its way upward along the creek, watch for the curious and beautiful traces the creek has eroded into its rocky bed.
     About a mile up the Indian Joe trail, an unnamed trail turns off left. Keep going, and soon you will encounter the dramatic Indian Joe Cave Rocks. The trail steepens somewhat, and soon brings you to a dirt road, the Cave Rocks Road. Turn right here. Cows often plow this area up, but you are now climbing to good views back west to Mission Peak, Mount Allison, and Monument Peak, in north to south order. As you come into clearer areas, there should be mixed flower meadows, with filaree, buttercups, checker bloom, and blue eyed grass among others. You will pass first Eagle View Road and then Eagle View Trail on your left, and continue climbing, coming in a total of just over a mile to a junction with the Cerro Este Road. Turn left onto the road to begin climbing up a ridgeback, with more flower meadows, and better chances of owl's clover and bicolor lupines, if you haven't met them already. There are two distinct hills along the road. The first makes a good picnic and turnaround spot, or you can continue on for another third of a mile and 300' or so to bag the second peak. (Be warned, what lies beyond includes a number of homes reached by a road outside the park - but there are some nice eastward vistas as well.)

View from Cerro Este to Maguire Peaks and Mt. Diablo, Sunol
View from Cerro Este to Maguire Peaks and Mt. Diablo, Sunol
Photo by Tim Oren

      Returning back down Cerro Este Road, you pass the Cave Rocks Road and continue downhill as the road grows steeper. Along this stretch, there is a good chance of spotting displays of larkspur. Pass the first junction as the McCorkle trail merges in from your left, and then turn right at its second junction. In 0.94 miles, the McCorkle trail meets the Canyon View trail. Turn right onto it, and shortly complete the loop by reaching the junction where you climbed to Indian Joe. Along this last stretch, you will probably hear the sounds of the crowds at the Sunol picnic grounds, most of them unaware of the glories to be found in the hills above. From the Indian Joe junction, it's a short backtrack along Alameda Creek to the bridge and your car.

Getting there: From I-680, take Calaveras Road southbound 4.2 miles to Geary Road. It's 1.8 miles on Geary Road to the park entrance and another 0.1 miles to the visitor center, where you park for this trailhead.

Hike distance and elevation: 5.3 miles loop, 1300' more or less

Best time for flowers: Late March to early April

On the Web: Sunol Regional Wilderness on the East Bay Regional Parks site

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

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