Soak in the sweetness and beauty of Sonoma County’s wildflowers on these five different walks. Dress for the weather and trail conditions, bring plenty of water and snacks, and check in with organizers ahead of time.
Pomo Canyon and Red Hill Trails: March 12
Expert botanist Peter Warner leads leisurely-paced walks that are oriented towards naturalists and ecologists of all ages and experience. He focuses on plants and general ecology, but anyone curious about nature is invited to attend. This 5-mile walk covers some moderately steep and wet or muddy stretches, along a rolling well-worn dirt and gravel tread. You’ll walk through coastal grassland, shrubland, and smaller patches of forest to look for early spring wildflowers like Douglas iris, buttercups, milk maids, blooming shrubs and more. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Shell Beach (Sonoma Coast State Park) parking lot on Hwy. 1. The walk lasts until 2-3 p.m. A plant list is available by email. Contact Peter at least one week prior to this walk: 707-666-9071 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Rain cancels. Ask about his other upcoming walks.
Vernal Equinox Sunrise Walks: March 17-19
Join the Sunrise Walkers in welcoming spring during an early morning walk on the Laguna. Liza Weaver Brickey has been leading sunrise walks for two years. This time, a docent from the Robert Ferguson Observatory will speak on the Vernal Equinox. “Spring means new life, soft earth, rich smells, a bursting of life from every inch of the Laguna. To witness this life coming up in spring is awe-inspiring,” said Liza. Meet at 7 a.m. at the trailhead just before the Chevron gas station, at the Hwy. 12 entrance. The two-mile walk will lead to the pond and back. http://sunrisewalkers.com/sunrise-walk-vernal-equinox/.
Sonoma Land Trust
Sonoma Land Trust offers a series of guided wildflower hikes each spring. The Little Black Mountain Preserve near Cazadero with its mixed conifer and hardwood forest interspersed with meadows offers a variety of native flowers including lupine, California poppy, linanthus, buttercup and clarkia. Hikes at the Jenner Headlands Preserve highlight the serpentine meadows with their array of miniature native flowers such as owl’s clover, rose johnny tucks, lomatium and sweeping carpets of goldfields. Learn more about their outings online at sonomalandtrust.org. Pre-registration is required.
Modini Mayacamas Preserves
The Modini Mayacamas Preserves sits on the slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains in Alexander Valley. The private nature sanctuary features diverse habitat and is owned and managed by the Audubon Canyon Ranch. “This is one of the wildflower hot spots. One real special feature is the St. Helena fawn lily, a rare and beautiful flower that shows up in late March through the end of April,” said David Self, Audubon Canyon Ranch’s naturalist for the sanctuary. Contact the Friends of the Mayacamas Meetup Group; www.meetup.com/Friends-of-the-Modini-Mayacamas/.
Riverfront Regional Park, Windsor
Not far from downtown Windsor, this park includes 3.12 miles of trail that you can walk at your own leisure. You’ll find a trail that loops around Lake Benoist, with a short spur to the Russian River; and the Redwood Hill Trail, a pleasant climb over a small hill from the picnic area that passes through oak woodland. Wildflowers will be abundant. A picnic area features BBQs, volleyball area and a horseshoe pit. Park opens: 7 a.m. $7/vehicle. Dogs permitted on leashes no longer than six feet. Ranger: 707-433-1625, parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov.