Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hiking in Redwood Regional Park - 1 New, 1 Old

So my blog is now 2 years old, as of a couple days ago.  I'm mildly proud of that, even though I haven't been blogging as much as I would like to.  Completely unrelated, this year I've been trying to see parts of the Bay Area that I haven't seen before.  This can be exploring a new park, new hot springs, a new restaurant, or something as simple as hiking unfamiliar trails in a familiar park. This post is a conglomeration of photos from  hikes I did about in Redwood Park about 3 weeks ago.  The first, hiking out of the serpentine prairie (new) and the second leaving from Skyline Gate(old).
For the first hike I went up to the Serpentine Prairie (see my previous post about this area here) and then went out the Dunn trail and back on the Golden Spike trail for a short loop.

The first blue dicks were out, as were some tiny insects.  Are they flies, tiny bees?
A field of common star lilies (Zigadenus fremontii).
 And does anyone know what this is?  It looks like red asparagus.  It was growing in some shade under oaks I believe.
 Find the other hike after the jump.

The second hike started out at the Skyline Gate.  We hiked out along the West Ridge trail and then down Chown trail to French trail, following that at least most of the way back.  This made for about 6-7 mi loop.  If you've never hiked the Chown, French and other trails between West ridge and Stream trails, I highly recommend it.  They are not used very much so you won't see too many people even on weekends, and you get to hike under a canopy of redwoods and bay laurel, with occasional bursts of madrones.  They are some of my favorite trails here in the East Bay.

On this day we were lucky to see several western leatherwoods (Dirca occidentalis) all in flower and all in a big clump.  I say lucky because these plants are endemic to the Bay Area, and, I think, really beautiful when flowering.
We also got to see hundreds and hundreds of Trillium ovatum.  (For more about these plants checkout Curbstone Valley's post) And I'm not kidding about the hundreds.  We passed at least a dozen patches.  My friend and I stopped to count one average patch and counted at least 40.  It was very cool hiking in the cool, dark of the redwoods and seeing small fields of these guys popping out of the duff.

Many of the madrones were blooming as well.  I might have mentioned this in another post, but the blooms are edible.  I don't recommend making a meal of them, though they do make a nice little trail taste.  The flowers are kind of papery and they have a very sweet taste, perhaps from the nectar inside.  Some are sweeter than others, so if you don't like your first ones try a different tree.


  1. I think your mystery plant might be pine drops (Pterospora andromedea). It certainly looks like one of the parasitic Ericaceae.

  2. Very cool! Isn't it wonderful when things wake up again? I agree, pine drops. See this post on my blog for a photo of the same plants in the Sierras

  3. I actually have a different thought on your mystery red asparagus. It could be in the Corallorhiza genus. Last year I found Corallorhiza maculata growing here:

    The only way to know for sure would be to go back in a week or so and see what shape the blooms are. In my post, check out the fifth image from the top of an stem whose flowers haven't yet opened. If you look closely you can see the same stem sheath below the flower buds.

  4. Thanks everyone. But it looks like Clare (curbstone valley) is right. At least based on the photos, and according to Calflora pindrops aren't found in the Bay Area. Pinedrops flowers grow downward, where as the Corallorhiza seems to grow up at least in the beginning. I wasn't planning to go back, but now that I know they are an orchid I just might have to do that. At least for a quick look. I just hope I remember where I saw them, and they are still there. They were right on the edge of the trail.

  5. Even though they're considered relatively common orchids I still haven't seen one of these. Congratulations! The first orchid book I bought as a teen was one of those pocket-sized Golden Books that talked about the orchids that grew in the dark of the soil and only emerged to bloom. I thought all orchids were magic, but an orchid that spent most of its life underground? Wow, extra bonus.

  6. I wonderif the trillium is still blooming?