It’s wildflower season in Sonoma County’s parks, where you’ll find dazzling displays of blooms. In April, almost every park is bursting with California poppies, blue dicks, red larkspur, lupine, iris and so many other varieties of flowers.
Spring's colorful bounty
Join one of Regional Parks’ free, guided wildflower walks, led by naturalists and park experts who will bring the ecology of the flowers and properties to life.
Shelly Spriggs, who will guide a number of wildflower treks in April and May, is a certified naturalist who leads field trips for Regional Parks. “I love to share stories of how wildflowers interact with other plants and pollinators,” she said, “and how native peoples interacted with the flowers and tended them.”
April 6 - Steelhead Beach Regional Park, Forestville:“There will be an interesting display of riparian species at Steelhead,” said Spriggs. “We’ll see some special plants, but lesser amounts of smaller, more delicate flowers — that’s because the late rains flooded the Russian River in March and the flowers here haven’t had a chance to rebound.”
April 9 - Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve, Kenwood: This hike is a great opportunity to explore the park's 247-acre Lawson Addition, which is not yet open to the public. The 6-mile hike will be strenuous and mostly uphill, but the payoff will be gorgeous views of the Valley of the Moon. This hike is a joint effort between Regional Parks and the Milo Baker Chapter of the California Native Plant Society and is led by Assistant Park Manager Jim Piercy.
The hike will pass through mixed woodlands, including pygmy Sargent cypress growing in serpentine soils. Wildflower sightings might include Columbine, tidy tips, larkspur, zigadene, jewel flowers and golden fairy lanterns. Bring lunch and plenty of water. Meet at the upper parking lot at the Pythian Road entrance.
April 16 - Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve, Santa Rosa: “Taylor Mountain is full of some abundant patches of native flowers,” Spriggs said. “Little lupine meadows, lots of vetch, and buttercups — there’s a great diversity here.” Meet at the Petaluma Hill Road entrance.
April 22 - Tolay Lake Regional Park, Petaluma: “This is really my favorite property,” Spriggs said. “I love it. There are many good wildflowers to see, but I’m also excited to share cultural and natural history of the land here. There are so many great stories about the native people and the history.” Meet in the grassy area in front of the old yellow house.
May 4 - Riverfront Regional Park, Windsor: “Riverfront is amazingly abundant with soaproot,” said Spriggs. “It’s an amazing plant, and it’s believed that the plants here were tended by native peoples. They start blooming in May, and the flowers only open just before dark.”
Parking is $7 or free for Regional Parks members. Heavy rain cancels.