April brings a spectacular show of wildflowers and blooms throughout Mendocino County… from the inland valleys to the redwood forests and to the coastal bluffs. The winter storms and rain that visit the county in the first three months of the year yield flowering Madrones, spicy Pepperwood trees, vineyards filled with creamy Meadow Foam and great swaths of Baby Blue Eyes on the coast. Join us on a journey to discover the jewels that Mother Nature sows!
I Spy …
The winding back roads of Mendocino County offer dozens of opportunities for wildflower spotting. Easy to spy are the Madrones and Manzanitas that grow throughout Mendocino County with their distinctive bark and blooms. Peeking through the duff under the giant redwoods of Montgomery Woods are delicate nodding heads of Trillium, shy wild Iris, and Wake Robins, all of which relish the damp and shady conditions. Heralding spring are the Calypso and Leopard Orchids, which can be found along Orr Springs Road and in the Fern Canyon at Russian Gulch. Redbud grows all over the county and, with their cheery magenta flowers against the still-bare branches, are hard to miss!
Spend a night or two in the still of the forest at Orr Hot Springs. Between soaks in the tubs and dips in the cool pool, you'll find plenty of time for wildflower watching!
With my Little Eye…
Take the alternate route to Anderson Valley and enjoy all the floral beauty — and spectacular views — that line Highway 253 from Ukiah. Yellow Wallflowers, Scarlet Columbines, blue Ceanothus and purple Penstemon are just some of the blooms to spot along the road. A visit on April 21 & 22 means you're in time for the 95th Annual Spring Wildflower show at the county fairgrounds in Boonville where a riot of color feasts the eyes! Seeking something different? Then stop in at the Boonville Cemetery, the only place in the county where you can find the dainty Anderson Valley Mission Bells… not tolling!
Head on down to Philo to the newest beds in town at The Brambles, a contradictory no-camp campground experience, with two original Homestead and Logging Cabins nestled below a towering redwood grove.
Something Beginning With…
Growing abundantly on the cliffs and headlands north of Fort Bragg and near Manchester State Park, seaside daisies produces waves of lavender blooms offset against the coastal grasses. Hike along the Haul Road north of Fort Bragg to see coastal buckwheat and stunning displays of Mendocino Paintbrush, considered an endangered plant. Yellow and blue lupines dot the coastal meadows as do the bright dots of poppies, which due to the coastal environment, display a variety of shapes and colors.
For a coastal hike with a twist, book a tour with Unbeaten Path Tours and learn all there is to know about the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands. The only land-based part of the California Coastal National Monument, the lands were protected against development in 2014. Since then, Margaret Lindgren has been offering bespoke tours that delve into the geology, flora and fauna of this precious area.
Make Fort Bragg your base to explore the area. Hike the Peter Douglas Trail in the Lost Coast where views stretch to Hawaii and beyond!
And that's I for Iris and Inland! This harbinger of spring is found throughout the county, from the shelter of the woods to the windswept headlands to inland trails. Take the Shakota Trail on the west side of Lake Mendocino for a moderate hike of seven miles one way that is perfect for seeing spring flowers. You'll spot Indian Warriors and Iris and Diogenes' Lanterns, which are easy to spot with their golden nodding flowers. Mariposa lilies blanket one particular meadow in May and occasionally you'll catch a glimpse of Firecracker Lilies. Hike through Low Gap Park in spring and early summer to see Ithuriel's Spear, Larkspur, Hound's Tongue, and Monkeyflowers. Combine the two trails in the park for a 4+ mile loop with spectacular views of the Ukiah Valley.
Top off your hikes with a refreshing glass of beer and some top-notch grub at the Ukiah Brewing Company. If you're lucky, there will be live music and a livelier crowd!