Springtime brings green hills and spectacular displays of wildflowers to our open spaces. One of the most common questions we get this time of year is where visitors can go to see the best wildflowers in our preserves.
To celebrate the season, we are excited to release our new “Come Discover Nature Guidebook", a free, downloadable guide to the diverse plants and wildlife in our open space preserves and where you will have the best chance of seeing them.
We’ve pulled out some of our best tips for wildflower and wildlife spotting in our open space preserves. Visit our preserve webpages to get a quick overview of where to go and what to look for, then download our guidebook to take with you!
Remember: Take only photos and never pick or disturb wildflowers. Please don't leave the trail for any reason. Preserve the trailside beauty for other visitors and the pollinators and other wildlife that rely on this habitat.
Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve
Where to go: Llagas Meadow Loop trail and the hillsides along the Mayfair Ranch Trail
What you’ll see: California poppies – this much-loved wildflower is California’s state flower, and blooms from winter through fall. Rancho Cañada del Oro and Coyote Ridge are the best places to spot poppies. Lupine, a vibrant flowering shrub with elongated purple flowers, are often found in areas with California poppies throughout the spring. Blazing star, brilliant yellow annual flower appears late spring through early summer. Blue eyed grass – a blueish purple flower with yellow center that is part of the Iris family. It can be spotted in our preserves from March through May.
Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve
Where to go: Sierra Vista Trail, Lower Calaveras Fault Trail
What you’ll see: Blazing star, brilliant yellow annual flower appears late spring through early summer. Blue eyed grass – a blueish purple flower with yellow center that is part of the Iris family. It can be spotted in our preserves from March through May. You can also see some golden displays of California poppies in this area, though they are not as numerous here as they are at Rancho Cañada del Oro and Coyote Ridge.
Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve
Where to go: Arrowhead Loop Trail
What you’ll see: California bay laurel trees bloom with yellow flowers, in the late winter to spring – look for them growing in canyons and along creeks and springs. This preserve is a great place for bird watching year-round, and offers opportunities to spot yellow-billed magpie, red-tailed hawks, and in the spring, the Western meadowlark.
Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve
Where to go: This preserve offers some of our best local displays with a mix of wildflowers paired with stunning views over the Coyote Valley. This preserve is not yet open to the public for self-guided trips so docent-led hikes are required. The Authority organizes weekly day hikes and family-friendly nature walks through March and into April. These hikes always sell out fast, but there are still some tickets available! Sign up here.
Miss out on a weekend hike? Guided small group hikes can be made by reservation. Contact the Authority here to schedule a hike for your group.
What you'll see: A wide range of native plants and wildflowers including California poppies, Santa Clara Valley dudleya, most beautiful jewel flower, blue eyed grass, lupin, and dwarf plantain. Spring is also the time to spot the endangered Bay checkerspot butterfly, which lives on patches of dwarf plantain.