Russian Ridge, Pulgas Ridge, Sierra Azul, Monte Bello, Los Trancos, Windy Hill, and Picchetti Ranch Open Space Preserves are some of the best Midpeninsula Regional Open Space preserves for spring wildflowers in the months of March, April and May.
Sunny, grassy trail sections are typically best for spring wildflowers. And don’t forget that in late winter (January - March) there are often good wildflowers on the shady trails, and in early spring (March - April) the chaparral shrubs have their own fragrant wildflower blooms.
A simple color photograph guide with two selected features showcasing the species—usually flower and whole plant or leaf. This guide was developed for use at Midpen's Annual Wildflower Survey at Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. It features the 100 most common flowering species seen during the wildflower surveys.
Field guides for several Midpen preserves are available on the free app iNaturalist. Identify what you see and record your own observations when you're out on the trails.
In some areas, wildflowers are blooming more profusely as a result of the District’s resource conservation efforts, aimed to ensure long-term protection of natural and cultural resources on District preserves. Prescribed burns, like the one implemented at Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve in 2009, help control non-native invasive species and enhance the natural values of the Preserve’s environment.
Wildflower Hotspots of the Santa Cruz Mountains
Cindy Roessler, Senior Resource Management Specialist, presented Wildflower Hotspots of the Santa Cruz Mountains in May 2012 for the annual wildflower show of the California Native Plant Society - Santa Clara Valley Chapter. Below is her list of wildflower hotspots with links to agency websites for more information about trails and logistics.
- Coyote Ridge
- Coyote Lake - Harvey Bear Ranch County Park
- Calaveras, Ohlone, and Mummy Mountain Trails
- Rancho Canada del Oro, Blair Ranch
- Mayfair Ranch and Longwall Canyon Trails.
- Almaden Quicksilver County Park
- New Almaden, Mockingbird Hill Lane, and Mine Trails
- See also New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Association
- Santa Teresa County Park
- Stile Ranch, Rocky Ridge, and Bernal Hill Trails
- See also Friends of Santa Teresa Park
- Joseph D. Grant Ranch
- Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve
- Edgewood Park & Nature Preserve
- See also Friends of Edgewood Park
- San Bruno Mountain State and County Park
- See also San Bruno Mountain Watch
- Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve
- Bay-Ridge, Borel Hill, and Ancient Oaks Trails
Coastal - can still be blooming in June. For all these coastal parks, may sure to check with the San Mateo Coast Natural History Association.
- San Pedro Valley County Park
- Montara State Beach and McNee Ranch State Park
- Bean Hollow State Park and Pescadero Beach State Park
- Ano Nuevo State Park
- Sunol Regional Wilderness
- Henry W. Coe State Park
- See also Pine Ridge Association
- Pinnacles National Monument
- Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
These are general recommendations where wildflowers are found in most years. Actual conditions can vary from year to year. The best locations and dates of the local spring wildflower bloom fluctuate, often depending on the amount and timing of winter rain and when the spring days start to get sunny and warm.