Saturday, April 21, 2018

Edgewood County Park & Preserve Wildflower Walk

With plenty of rain in March and April, Edgewood County Park & Preserve is bursting with wildflowers this year. Though wildflowers can be seen from February through May, April is the peak of the season.

This preserve is so popular in April that it can be hard to find a parking space near the main entrance on Edgewood Road on weekends. For that reason my De Anza College class met at the parking area along Canada Road just east of Highway 280 at the Clarkia Trailhead. We hiked the Clarkia Trail through oak woodland and chaparral to where it intersects the Serpentine Loop Trail on the serpentine grassland where most of the spectacular wildflower displays are found.

Serpentine is a metamorphic rock associated with earthquake faults. It weathers into a soil that is low in calcium, nitrogen and potassium, and high in nickel and chromium. This means that the soil is not beneficial to the non-native grasses that have taken over many of our hillsides, but ideal for native plants that are adapted to these unique conditions. We saw lots of tidy tips, linanthus, owl clover, goldfield, blue-eyed grass, golden poppies. flax, royal larkspur, mule ear, lupine, sun cups, and many other beautiful flowers.

We followed the Serpentine Loop to the east side of the ridge, with beautiful views of the bay. From there we took the Franciscan Trail to the Edgewood Trail, which goes through a shady oak woodland before emerging back onto the serpentine grassland. Because it was a warm day we decided to seek out a shady place for lunch. We found that place in an abandoned grove of olive trees. Unfortunately, there are no picnic tables and we had to watch out for poison oak. There is a dusky-footed wood

rat nest nearby.

After lunch we continued south on the Serpentine Loop and then retraced out steps on the Clarkia Trail. Our total route was about 4.1 miles.

TO GET THERE... from Highway 280 take Edgewood Road west and then turn south (left) on Canada Road. Look for parking along Canada Road a short distance after crossing to the east side of Highway 280.

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