Sonoma County Regional Parks have been hosting Wildflower Walks this spring. I managed to join one last weekend at Foothill Regional Park. For a small park, there’s plenty of hills – the reason I don’t often walk here. But I managed to make the loop around the park – happy with the information I learned about wildflowers and disappointed that what felt like a 5-mile hike was only 2.25 miles.
It starts innocently at this trailhead off of Arata/Hembree Lns. in Windsor, Ca. The park is an excellent example of an oak savannah. Sonoma County is a busy place for oaks and their ability to hybridize. (Sometimes makes it hard to identify oaks.)
This picture of Phil Dean, Master Gardener, was taken at his first stop on the walk (halfway up the first hill on Three Lakes Trail). That’s a manzanita behind him – he was discussing the blue-bloomed Brodiaea growing low to the ground near him. Yellow Suncups and Buttercups were also along this part of the trail.
Past the ponds (the easy part of the park to walk) was a meadow filled with Blue Dicks.
This part of walk was almost easy on Meadow Trail.
On the left -Sun Cups.
On the right were sky lupines.
Then it got steep, we took a right on Oakwood Trail and I had this view looking back downhill and across the Santa Rosa Plain.
And still we went uphill (a total of a couple hundred feet).
Through these trees is a pond created by the Greeott Dam. (Chalk Hill Rd is over the hill.) From here the path went up and down and around hillsides. We saw meadows with more lupines and popcorn flower.
At the very top was a picnic area. I couldn’t imagine lugging my food up all this way, but a lovely setting for 3 picnic tables. We were walking along the edge of the park here and on our way back downhill.
After a field of soap plants and poison oak, we went past an oak forest and then headed back to the beginning on Westside Trail
Mind you, I was trying to keep up with Mr. Dean’s spotting of wildflowers and hear his information – so the pictures of wildflowers are sparse. He did not ‘dilly’ nevermind ‘dally.’ Keep up or lose out.
He did spot and discuss – often with information on the uses native people made of the plants – ground iris, sheep sorrel, toyon (bush), stork’s bill, sanicle, yarrow, shooting star, nutgrass, fiddleneck, miner’s lettuce, hound’s tongue, goldfields, footsteps of spring and mules ear. The list he handed out of the plants of Foothill had over 50 plants.
Your assignment, if you choose to accept, is to find the wildflowers of Foothill Regional Park. Beautiful.
Our previous walk at Foothill: Walking at Foothill.
Directions: 1351 Arata Lane, Windsor Map.
Wheelchair: There is a parking lot up the first hill, where you can park and have access to the area near the ponds. If you have a permanent disability placard, you can purchase an electronic pass to get through a gate.
Dogs: On 6′ leash.
Picnic tables: At ponds and up the hill in a few spots.
Bathroom: At trailhead in parking lot, flush, cold water.
See you on the trail!
Words and pictures by Lynn Millar. Mike Millar was on assignment.