The warm, 75-degree temperatures last weekend made for incredible spring-like hiking in the Bay Area. We do still have lingering showers, but there’s no doubt about it: The wildflowers have arrived! Coyote Ridge Open Space Preserve in southern Santa Clara County was my Sunday destination, and it was one of those rare hiking experiences where I was able to interact with many friendly volunteers.
Coyote Ridge is currently closed to the public to protect sensitive species, but you can still see the swaths of orange and purples wildflowers on the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Preserve’s docent-led hikes and self-guided access days in springtime. To sign up for a hike, visit the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority’s website and sign up for their event calendar to receive an email notification when they post new hikes on www.eventbrite.com.
In a nutshell: There are about six miles of trails in the preserve as of this writing, and you are provided a trail map once you register for a hike. It is a moderate 900-foot gain if you hike up to the ridge. There’s also a lovely 0.18 mile family-friendly loop by the parking lot. Trails range from grassy to gravelly, and are fully exposed to the sun. I was glad I had brought hat, sunglasses, and water, and wore long-sleeves. Orange cones wrapped in color-coded tape let you know which trail you are on. On the self-guided access days, you can show up as early as 9:00 a.m. and stay until 5:00 p.m. The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority just asks that you arrive by 2:00 p.m. to give yourself a chance to experience the preserve before it closes. Port-o-potties are stationed at the parking lot and up on the ridge.
Here’s what I loved about Coyote Ridge:
Views of the Santa Cruz Mountains, especially Loma Prieta and Mount Umunhum
Laminated wildflower ID cards provided by the Open Space Authority at the trailhead
Mount Hamilton and Lick Observatory views
Super-friendly volunteers. One pointed out this rare Mt. Hamilton Thistle to me.
So many varieties of wildflowers!!!
Coyote Ridge is a fantastic hike, in part because of the flora, fauna, and mountain views, and in part because the Santa Clara Open Space Authority puts on a very thoughtful event with friendly, supportive staff.
Happy wildflower viewing!