This post was originally published in April 2011. We have not found time to revisit. Have you been recently? I’m sure things have changed and we always meant to go a little later in spring – or earlier. If you’re making your spring hiking list, please add this place.
We started out Sunday afternoon for Quarryhill Botanical Garden near Glen Ellen in the Sonoma Valley. Notice hill in the name. This is not a flat walk except in the beautifully located parking lot and a few parts of the trail.
So up the hill we went. The first part is steep and most of the paths have ups and downs. Paths by the creek or near a former quarry site are steep.
After following a narrow dirt trail and admiring some flowering bushes and trees, I found myself at the top of a steep stone steps. I went down toddler-style. Most of the trails are wide packed gravel. Wooden bridges and stepping stones cross the creek.
Quarryhill Botanical Garden specializes in trees from Asia that they have collected over the past 20 years. Not only does it provide a beautiful garden/forest to walk through, but it is preserving and protecting trees under environmental stresses in their native location.
Right now (early-mid April) many trees and bushes are in bloom. While the trees and bushes may be exotic, many are cousins of our local trees. Dogwood, rhododendrons, quince and roses were in blossom. Chokecherries, boxwood and marlberry were also full of flowers.
Various camellias, oaks, tulip trees, wingnuts, birches, maples and pines fill the 25 acres of hillside. Unfamiliar trees intrigued and fascinated us. Overall shapes are different, leaves are elegant, and barks are colorful.
We walked just over a mile and while the grade is steep it rarely felt difficult. We were too busy being amazed and therefore went slowly. At several points we could look across the valley and see the mountains. (Unfortunately, we could also hear the traffic from Hwy12.)
Walking within the gardens there are views of ponds. Benches, picnic tables and water are available in several places throughout the garden.
We’ll return when the leaves are full.
See you on the trail!
Photos by Mike Millar
Directions: 12841 Hwy 12 between Kenwood and Glen Ellen
Fee: $10, less if you’re a member. Check it out online. Seniors (65+) free on Tuesday.
New: Visitor’s Center will open soon.
Wheelchair access: Very limited except near new Center and parking lot.
Picnic tables, benches and water fountains.
No smoking and no dogs.
Bathrooms: Portapotties, but the most beautiful bathroom setting in the woods at hilltop or near the parking lot.
EARTH DAY REMINDER! CELEBRATE! TAKE CARE OF THE EARTH EVERY DAY.