Spring is the season of rebirth and renewal.
With the increasing length of each day we get more sunshine and the resulting warmth triggers an explosion of spring wildflowers. This is a great time to take a wildflower hike or a wildflower drive. Seeing the profusion of colors set in a sea of brilliant green grass, has a rejuvenating effect on one’s soul. I heartily recommend it to get your outdoor juices flowing for the coming season.
If you are in reasonably good shape, a hike in wildflower country can put you up close and personal to dozens of magnificent examples of The Good Lord’s handiwork. You can bring your camera with a couple of close-up lenses take photos to mount and hang on your wall. Perhaps the best opportunity to take a wildflower hike is on the South Fork of the Merced River. Drive to the town of Mariposa on Highway 49 and turn eastbound in Mariposa and head toward Yosemite National Park. At the junction of the South Fork and the main Merced is an historic establishment called Savage’s Trading Post. You can stop there and sign in at a registration book before beginning your trek along the bank of the South Fork on the Hites Cove Trail.
The Hites Fork trail takes you past old gold mining relics while amazing you with a host of breathtaking wildflowers. Among my favorites are the California Golden Poppy, our state flower. There are also Brodea, Lupine, Columbine, Shooting Stars, and Indian Paintbrush. It is a great experience that will likely bring you back again and again. A great addition that will make your wildflower hikes much more enjoyable is to get a book on California wildflowers. You can have a blast identifying the various flowers so you can label then when you mount your photos.
If you’re a little older, or not in shape to take a hike then a wildflower drive might be just the thing for you. I recommend driving to the town of Patterson and turning westbound on Del Puerto Road toward Mount Hamilton and the Lick Observatory. Rather than retrace your path back down the mountain. I suggest you take Mines Road northbound toward Livermore and then take Tesla Road eastbound past the Carnegie Cycle Park. At the top of the mountain, you cross the county line from Alameda County to San Joaquin County and the road name changes from Tesla Road to Corral Hollow Road.
While you’re enjoying the wildflowers, you might want to keep an eye out for the Tule Elk that inhabit the area. They are magnificent creatures with massive antlers, and truly a delight to see. In any event the above described drive is pretty much an all-day affair. You may want to pack a picnic lunch and stop at Frank Raines Park on Del Puerto Road. This drive is perfect for folks with limited mobility.