California Poppies and Lupine


Hundreds of wildflower species grow on Midpen preserves. Visitors may see a variety of plant species blooming from early spring all the way through the later winter months. Spring brings the highest frequency and diversity of wildflower blooms, which generally peak during March, April, and May. 

Sunny, grassland trail sections are typically the best places to see spring wildflowers, but they can be found in a wide variety of habitats. The best locations and dates of the local spring wildflower bloom change from year to year depending on the amount of rainfall, how late it occurs, and when the temperatures start to increase.

In some areas, wildflowers are blooming more profusely as a result of the District’s resource conservation efforts, aimed to ensure long-term protection of natural and cultural resources on Midpen preserves.

photo of Fiddleneck flowers.
Fiddleneck Flowers (Matt Adelman)

Wildflower Viewing Etiquette

Wildflowers can be quite fragile. Please follow these simple guidelines to make sure everyone can enjoy their beauty as they bloom.

  • Stay on established trails. Visitors venturing off trail can trample wildflowers and their habitat, preventing other visitors from enjoying the displays. When soils become compacted this prevents wildflowers from growing in these areas in the future. Please tread lightly and don’t DOOM the BLOOM!
  • Take photos not flowers! Wildflowers wilt quickly after picking and can’t be transplanted elsewhere. Picking wildflowers also prevents them from going to seed, which limits future wildflowers blooms.  Please do not pick wildflowers and allow other visitors to enjoy their beauty.
  • Take photos OF flowers not IN flowers. Photographs must be taken from the established trails only. Sitting in the flower fields will damage existing blooms and prevent the next generation from growing.
  • Follow rules of the preserves/parks you visit.
  • Enjoy! The blooms of spring don’t last for long each year. But don’t despair — wildflower seeds develop after a flower blooms and when left alone will to drop to the soil to provide next year’s blooms. The wildflowers decompose and provide nutrients to the next generation of plants.

Where to see Wildflowers

Generally the following preserves/trails are good for wildflower viewing in any given year:

  • Los Trancos – First portion of Franciscan Loop Trail
  • Monte Bello – grassland trails – Canyon Trail (Up Indian Creek Trail down Bella Vista Trail), Waterwheel Creek Trail
  • Picchetti Ranch – Zinfandel Trail
  • Pulgas Ridge – Dusky Footed Woodrat Trail, Polly G Trail
  • Purisima Creek Redwoods – Jan-February - Purisima Creek Trail in early season for redwood understory blooms – trillium, violets, redwood sorrel
  • Rancho San Antonio – Upper/High Meadow Trail, Chamise Trail
  • Russian Ridge – Any of the grassland trails – Bay-Ridge, Boreal Hill, Hawk Ridge, Alder Spring, Ancient Oaks
  • Sierra Azul – Woods/Barlow Trails, Kennedy Trail
  • Skyline Ridge – grassland trails – Sunny Jim Trail, Ipiwa Trail to lookout and turn around and link into Horseshoe Lake Trail
  • St Joseph’s Hill – Manzanita Trail
  • Thornewood – nice diversity of flowers throughout preserve
  • Windy Hill – grassland trails – Spring Ridge Trail, Betsy Crowder Trail

Wildflower Guides

A simple color photograph guide with two selected features showcasing the species —usually flower and whole plant or leaf. This guide was developed for use at Midpen's Annual Wildflower Survey at Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve. It features the 100 most common flowering species seen during the wildflower surveys.

iNaturalist Wildflower Guides

Field guides for several Midpen preserves are available on the free app iNaturalist. Identify what you see and record your own observations when you're out on the trails. ​iNaturalist is a great tool to find where wildflowers are blooming as people add their observations in real time. You can even join preserve lists and be alerted when new observations are added!

Other Wildflower Hotspots in the Santa Cruz Mountains

Sign up for our newsletter to find out what’s happening in your open space!