Walking Sonoma Coast – Kortum Trail

Here’s what you may have missed on our walk May 21st. A beautiful day at the coast was sunny and windy, but not freezing. Everywhere we looked there were flowers, sometimes hidden in the grasses and sometimes shouting in masses.

Meadowfoam at Kortum Trail

We walked on the Kortum Trail from the end of Carlevaro Way almost to Wright’s Beach. Less than a mile out, it is the flattest and longest stretch of bluff-top walking. A bridge crosses one creek and a boardwalk spans one soggy patch.

Cow Parsnip and Scouting Kortum Trail

The vegetation changes from meadow to bluff edge. Each creek or wetter expanse offers different plants than the last one. This is true on more than 4 miles of Kortum Trail from Wright’s Beach to Goat Rock.

When I say the vegetation changes, I mean in flowering season the colors range from blues to golds to pinks and mixtures of those. Grasses provide a green backdrop or in the case of Rattlesnake Grass a blonde contrast to the red Sheep Sorrel.

Rattlesnake Grass and Sheep Sorrel - Kortum Trail

Cliff edge — Yellow: Goldfields — Pinks: Checker Mallow, Seaside Daisy and Sea Thrift. Sea Lettuce, mustard and lupines cling to the cliff sides.

Meadow — Blues/Purples: Blue-eyed Grass, Flax, Coastal Iris, Hedge Nettle, Lupines — Yellows: buttercups, CA Lotus, Poppies, Suncups — Red: Thistle, Cows Clover —White: Windmill, Wild Radish (also with purples or yellows coloring), Morning Glory, Strawberry — Orange: Indian Paintbrush (also in yellow), Scarlett Pimpernel. Coyote bushes abounds away from the edge, but later in the year they’ll be full of white seed poofs.

Meadowfoam and Winecup

Wetter Areas — White: Native Blackberry, Calla Lily, Cow Parsnip, Manroot — Yellow: Meadowfoam (and white), Hairy Cat’s Ear, Mule’s Ear — Red/Purple: Common Vetch, Chaparral Peas, Winecup.


Creek Areas, many of those in the wetter areas plus — Red: Bee Plant, Twinberry, Thimbleberry —Yellow: Monkey Flower — Pink: Rose — White: dogwood.

Shortly after we arrived two Brown Pelicans glided over us. We were thrilled because we hadn’t seen any in some time and because they are usually flying just over the water. The greeting was appreciated.

From spring to summer different flowers bloom. Footsteps of Spring are gone, but there were plenty of Goldfields. A few Coastal Iris still hid out in the grasses and some yarrow were getting ready to pop.

If you go soon, you’ll have a treat spotting all the flowers. Drive to the ocean and stop before you get to the big blue thing.

See you on the trail!

Lynn Millar

Photos by Mike Millar

(Nearest bathroom is at Shell Beach. Actually, closest is Wright’s Beach, but you need a pass. You have one right? Support your State Parks.)

Click link for other walks: North from Shell Beach North from Wright’s Beach      Map: Kortum Trail Map

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