The Sonoma County Regional parks wildflower hike this week was at Steelhead Beach Park along the Russian River. Although I’ve taken my kayaks there, I totally missed the wonderful trails!
Following our guide, Phil Dean, we discovered all kind of plants and flowers. We started up by the River Road entrance where he described the:
Big Leaf Maple (Which can actually be tapped like maples back east!)
The Box Elder:
The Coast Redwood:
And as the group walked on we spied the pretty little Henbit:
The Wild Grape:
And the Manroot, which oddly enough, has underground roots the size of a man:
I got excited over a sweet little daisy until he mentioned that the Ox Eye Daisy is so invasive he would never, ever plant it on his property!
As we walked back across the parking lot and along the road to the left of the old concrete gravel loader and restrooms, we entered a beautiful trail through a riparian area along the river. The first plant we encountered came with a warning. Hemlock, which is often mistaken for Queen Anne’s Lace, is deadly! Don’t even touch it!
The Wild Radish adds a soft lavender hue:
While the Lemon Balm, when you touch it, gives off a strong lemon scent:
Everyone liked the soft ferny Fennel:
We spotted some Wild Roses and learned the bright red spots on them were galls:
Phil and the ranger both had nothing but bad things to say about River Reed, a terribly invasive plant that is nearly impossible to dig out:
Walking a little further along the river we saw a quiet spot to sit and watched some canoes float along the river:
Next we entered a shady part of the trail full of beautiful plants.
Wild Elderberry (I’ve made Elderberry Jelly with my grandmother and it’s good!):
Walking along we saw Dogwood beginning to bloom:
And Himalayan Blackberry with it’s soft pink flowers:
The path through this area is gorgeous:
As we approached the end of the trail we came upon the part I thought was the most exciting of all! First he showed us the Pipevine and it’s unique flower:
And then he showed us the beautiful Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies that flit through the Wild Radish nearby!
Aren’t they beautiful! If you hurry you’ll be able to enjoy them! If you walk along the road on the left of the restrooms you can find them by walking around the metal fence gate. This is at the end of the trail we took, but it can be the beginning of the trail going the other way….clear as mud right? Just go take a walk there and you’ll figure it out….it’s so worth it!
For more info look here.