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11 Wildflower Hikes to Take in California
Health & Fitness

11 Wildflower Hikes to Take in California

With blooming Bay Area trails and blossoming coastal hikes down south, a treasure hunt of colors awaits on the best wildflower walks.

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5 min read

May 30, 2021

Ready to put a little spring in your step? We figured you’d say yes. That’s why we came up with a list of the best wildflower hikes in California that are covered in vibrant hues this time of year. With blooming Bay Area trails, sprouting Central Coast wildflower fields, and blossoming coastal hikes down south, a treasure hunt of colors awaits along the state’s best wildflower walks. 

Stunning Wildflower Trails in California

From wildflower hikes you already know and love to off-the-beaten path trails you haven’t trekked yet, California spoils you for choice with the best nature-filled day hikes

Wildflower Hikes in Northern California

Wildflower enthusiasts, a trip to Point Reyes in the spring and summer is a must. Woodlands, scrublands, and grasslands enhance your hike.

1. Chimney Rock Trail

Location: Point Reyes National Seashore, Inverness

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.9 miles

Route: Out and Back

The juxtaposition of waves crashing against the NorCal coast and gently blooming wildflowers lining the trail make Chimney Rock a magical hiking experience. Try this short wildflower hike on your next getaway to Point Reyes and prepare to be blown away—literally. It gets very windy around this area, so make sure you don’t forget a windbreaker. Otherwise, the trail is easy and the views are spectacular.

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2. Arrowhead Loop Trail 

Location: Coyote Valley Open Space, San Jose

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3.9 miles

Route: Loop

Hike along the rolling hills of Coyote Valley Open Space while traversing the Arrowhead Loop Trail. You’ll come across sprawling green spaces and gorgeous wildflowers of many kinds, including native California poppies. Keep an eye out for cows on this wildflower hike in Northern California. Wearing mineral-based sunscreen and other protective gear is also recommended due to the lack of shaded areas on the hike.

Wildflower Hikes in the Bay Area

The Serpentine Trail is a great hike that offers a little bit of everything, including a gradual incline at the beginning with lots of switchbacks.

3. Serpentine Trail 

Location: Edgewood Park and Nature Preserve, Redwood City

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 4 miles

Route: Loop

Edgewood Park and Nature Preserve is famous for its impressive displays of wildflowers every spring. Around 20 species of colorful flowers are found in this park, and hiking the Serpentine Trail is the best way to see them all. Owl’s clover, blue bush lupine, miner’s lettuce, and more blooms accompany you on this wildflower trail. Want to learn about the flowers in more detail? Join the free guided walks offered by Edgewood Park every Saturday and Sunday.

Little Yosemite is a scenic gorge on Alameda Creek that's open to the public for nature trips and wildflower viewing.

4. Little Yosemite 

Location: Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve, Sunol

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.2 miles

Route: Out and back

How many Yosemites does California have? If you answered one, then you haven’t been to Little Yosemite yet. And boy are you in for a delightful surprise. Hidden deep in the Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve, this pathway to heaven is a wildflower hike in the Bay Area you can’t miss. Trek alongside oak-lined canyons, grazing cattle, a flowing river, and, of course, colorful wildflowers—it’s a fairytale-esque experience you won’t forget.

Wildflower Hikes Near Sacramento

The Effie Yeaw Nature Loop Trail is a wonderful place for people who like to ease into exploring nature. Photo courtesy of Effie Yeaw Nature Center.

5. Effie Yeaw Nature Loop Trail 

Location: Ancil Hoffman Park, Carmichael

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.6 miles

Route: Loop

In Carmichael, about 15 minutes away from Sacramento, is the beautiful Effie Yeaw Nature Center, aptly nicknamed the Scenic Heights Neighborhood. Here, poppies and lupines are guaranteed to bloom. In addition to these stunning flowers, you’ll likely see many animals along this wildflower hike near Sacramento. Grab your binoculars for potential sightings of deer, squirrels, coyotes, rabbits, snakes, owls, and songbirds.

6. Mather Nature Loop

Location: Mather, Sacramento County

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.5 miles

Route: Loop

An underrated destination in Sacramento, Mather is where you go to get back in touch with mother nature. Don’t forget to take your camera on this wildflower walk, because you’ll have a lot to photograph. The scenic lake you come across along the hike has swans swimming across, so keep an eye out. If you’re bringing your dog along for the hike, watch out for overgrown wild plants.

Wildflower Hikes in Southern California

The Solstice Canyon Loop is a popular, well-maintained, and incredibly picturesque, mostly shaded canyon hike in the Santa Monica Mountains.

7. Solstice Canyon Trail

Location: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Malibu

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 3 miles

Route: Loop

Solstice Canyon is beautiful any time of year, but it’s especially breathtaking when dotted with striking yellow wildflowers all around. Besides amazing flora and fauna, other highlights of this SoCal wildflower hike include the oldest standing stone building in Malibu, a 30-foot waterfall, several ruins of old mansions, and more cool sights. As you meander along this wildflower walk, the Pacific peeks at you behind the hills.

The wildflower blooms at the Antelope Valley poppy reserve generally happen from March through May with the peak viewing period in Mid-April.

8. Antelope Loop Trail

Location: Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve, Lancaster

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 5.5 miles

Route: Loop

The Antelope Valley poppy preserve is a Golden State flower field famous for its vibrant orange-covered hills. The main wildflower blooms generally take place in the Antelope Valley from March through May. In addition to California poppies, look out for flower species including filaree, fiddleneck, silver puff, forget-me-nots, fringe pod, red maids, sun cups, and goldfields.

9. Batiquitos Lagoon Trail

Location: Carlsbad, San Diego County

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 3.3 miles

Route: Out and back

San Diego is known for hosting waves of beautiful blooms every spring. So, it’s of no surprise that San Diego's hiking trails also get covered in wildflowers when the warmer months roll around. The Batiquitos Lagoon Trail is one famous wildflower hike in Southern California you should trek. The flora along the hike is nothing short of impressive, and a few animal species such as herons and rabbits might keep you company as well.

Southern California Desert Wildflower Hikes

Looking for the ultimate short, easy hike in Joshua Tree? The Barker Dam Nature Trail is a great time.

10. Barker Dam Nature Trail 

Location: Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Tree

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.3 miles

Route: Loop

Joshua Tree hikes are the real deal when it comes to desert wildflower viewing. Joshua trees, creosote, and pinyon pines are among the various wild plants to see here. The Barker Dam Nature trail also gives you an easy opportunity to get to know the cultural history of the area, and leads you to a water tank built by early cattle ranchers.

11. Pictograph Trail 

Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Mount Laguna

Level of difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.6 miles

Route: Out and back

Take the road less traveled by heading to this cool, off-the-beaten-path hike in SoCal. Frequently trekked from March through October, this wildflower hike is special in more ways than one. You’ll see great desert flora and fauna served with a side of incredibly cool historical artifacts. Don’t forget to take a closer look at the pictographs on the boulders along the trail. Informational plaques near the pictographs give you a rundown of what they likely represent.

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