Every year after the rain, the golden hillsides of the Santa Clara Valley burst to life. Green grass blankets the land, accompanied by bright, colorful displays of iconic California wildflowers. Whether you’re a local, or new to the area, these seasonal viewings rarely disappoint, but there are a few things you’ll need to know before hitting the trails to find them.
Check out Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority's wildflower finding tips, places to view them this spring, and download a bonus 2023 wildflower guide HERE.
Respect the land, the wildlife, and each other:
- Don't go off the trail. Protect wildlife and their sensitive natural habitats by taking photos from the trail.
- Bee kind and NEVER pick wildflowers. Bees, butterflies, and other native pollinators depend on wildflowers as a source of food.
- Leave nothing behind! Keep nature wild and beautiful and pack out ALL your trash, food scraps, and belongings.
- Respect and protect wildlife on the trails. NEVER handle, harass, feed, or remove wildlife from parks or open space preserves, where they belong.
BEST LOCATIONS FOR WILDFLOWER viewing
RANCHO CAÑADA DEL ORO OPEN SPACE PRESERVE
Address: 4289 Casa Loma Rd, Morgan Hill
Hours: 7:00 a.m. to sunset (Sept. 16 through April 15); 6:00 a.m. to sunset (April 16 through Sept. 15)
What to look for: Lovers of lupine - a vibrant purple wildflower - won't want to miss Rancho Cañada del Oro's Llagas Creek Trail, a paved, 0.5-mile loop that circles a meadow full of this native wildflower. Along the Mayfair Ranch Trail, look for globe lilies and Pacific hound's tongue in the shade, and California poppies in the sun. Mariposa lilies and mule ears start to appear later in the season.
Field of lupine at Llagas Creek Trail, Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve (Adriana Michie)
COYOTE VALLEY OPEN SPACE PRESERVE
Address: 550 Palm Ave., Morgan Hill
Hours: 7:00 a.m. to sunset
What to look for: If you want to see a beautiful display of California poppies, you need go no further than this preserve's parking area! Look at the rocky hill next to the staging area for a sea of brilliant orange. Venture further into the preserve along the Arrowhead Loop Trail to find buttercups, shooting stars, baby blue eyes, and California golden violets.
Hillside of California poppies next to parking area, Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve (Ivette Lopez)
SIERRA VISTA OPEN SPACE PRESERVE
Address: Sierra Road, San José
Hours: 7:00 a.m. to sunset (Visitors already in the preserve before sunset will be allowed to stay until 30 minutes after sunset)
What to look for: Blazing star, a brilliant yellow flower, appears along the Sierra Vista Trail from late spring through early summer (this flower only opens in the late afternoon/early evening, so plan your trip accordingly!). Keep an eye out for other species, like blue-eyed grass – a blueish purple flower with yellow center. You can also see some California poppies and lupine in this area, though they are not as numerous here as they are at Rancho Cañada del Oro and Coyote Valley.
Blazing stars, Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve (Annamarie Pilon)
UPCOMING WILDFLOWER PROGRAMS AND EVENTS
Please note that our nature programs - especially during wildflower season - fill up quickly! To be the first to know about new events each month and have the best chance at securing a spot, please sign up for our Event Calendar email list.
WILDFLOWERS OF THE SOUTH BAY - A VIRTUAL ADVENTURE
Friday, March 3, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
To kick things off, the Open Space Authority is offering a virtual wildflower viewing experience on March 3. Join us on Zoom for a close look at some native flowers soon to be blooming in the South Bay, tips for identifying blooming plants, and information on how you can help protect native species. Register here.
WILDFLOWER WALKS AT RANCHO CAÑADA DEL ORO OPEN SPACE PRESERVE
- Saturday, March 11, 2023, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
- Saturday, April 15, 2023, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
- Stay tuned for registration.
- Saturday, May 13, 2023, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
- Stay tuned for registration.
- Saturday, June 10, 2023, 3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Stay tuned for registration.
The Open Space Authority is hosting a monthly series of walks at Rancho Cañada del Oro! During these walks you will witness the wide variety and ever-changing displays of wildflowers at this preserve. Each month new wildflowers are expected to bloom. The moderately paced 4.5-mile loop hike along the Mayfair Ranch and Longwall Canyon Trails includes a 700-foot elevation gain to the lunch spot at the midpoint. Come prepared with a lunch, water, warm layers, sun protection, and comfortable hiking shoes.
WILDFLOWERS OF DIABLO FOOTHILLS PRESERVE
Saturday and Sunday, March 18 and 19, 2023, 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Join us for a special access event at Diablo Foothills Open Space Preserve. Spring is in bloom in this 819-acre undeveloped preserve with rolling hills, oak grasslands, ponds, and creeks. The day will feature a moderate 3-mile hike to take a closer look at the wildflowers and wildlife in the preserve. Please bring snacks, plenty of water, sun protection, and comfortable hiking shoes. Register here.
WILDFLOWERS OF BLAIR RANCH
Sunday, March 26, 2023, 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Join us to explore the springtime wildflowers at Blair Ranch! Blair Ranch is an 847-acre portion of Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve that features a mosaic of grasslands and oak woodlands, with beautiful views of the eastern Santa Cruz Mountains. Blair Ranch also boasts serpentine grasslands, a unique habitat type with plants and animals that are only found there, not to mention beautiful wildflowers!
Please bring a lunch, plenty of water, and sun protection for this 5-mile moderate hike. Register here.
WILDFLOWERS OF LITTLE UVAS OPEN SPACE PRESERVE
Saturday and Sunday, April 29 and 30
This event will feature multiple wildflower hikes each day at Little Uvas Open Space Preserve. Registration coming soon. For more details and to stay in the loop on what's coming up this spring, sign up for the Event Calendar email.