Wildflowers in the East Bay Regional Parks

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A hill along the Old Stage Road trail is blooming with Goldfields at Edgewood County Park and Natural Preserve in Redwood City, Calif., on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. The drenching winter rains could see a banner year for wildflowers in the Bay Area. (Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group)

Just back from a trip to San Diego and Baja California, I can report that the 2019 wildflower season looks like it will be one of the great ones.

The desert is in bloom, and the displays at Anza-Borrego State Park are said to be spectacular.

Farther north and closer to home, flower displays don’t appear to have peaked yet. But if the situation in the south is any indication, spring will be beautiful in Northern California too.

The best places to see wildflowers in the East Bay Regional Parks include Morgan Territory Regional Preserve east of Mt. Diablo, Black Diamond Mines in Antioch, Briones Regional Park in central Contra Costa, and Sunol Regional Wilderness south of I-680, where the wildflower festival will take place on April 14. Poppies often grow in profusion at Vargas Plateau near Fremont.

One really beautiful wildflower venue is Rocky Ridge at Del Valle Regional Park south of Livermore, but you have to work for it. It’s a two-mile climb up the Ohlone Wilderness Trail from Del Valle’s Lichen Bark picnic area. Because the trail leads through San Francisco Water Department lands, a permit is required; permits can be purchased at Del Valle’s entrance kiosk.

For the first in a series of guided wildflower walks, join naturalist Eddie Willis from 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, March 24 at Black Diamond Mines. Meet Eddie in the parking lot at the upper end of Somersville Road, 3½ miles south of Highway 4 in Antioch. He’ll lead a hilly two-mile walk through the chaparral in search of early-season blooms.

The hike is free. Black Diamond charges a parking fee of $5 per vehicle when the kiosk is staffed. For information call 888-327-2757, ext. 2750.

While we’re at Black Diamond Mines, the mine tour season opened officially on the first weekend in March. The park offers one-hour guided tours of the historic Hazel-Atlas silica sand mine at various times on weekends through November.

For safety reasons, tours are for ages seven and older, and there’s a fee of $5 per person. For information, call the park district at 888-327-2757 and select option 2 for the reservations office.

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Elsewhere in East County, Big Break Regional Shoreline in Oakley plans a “S’mores Spring Break” event from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 23. Spend the afternoon discovering the region’s wildlife, learning fire safety and tent-building techniques, along with sampling the tasty campfire treat. Tents and s’mores will be provided.

Big Break is at 69 Big Break Road off Oakley’s Main Street. For information, call 888-327-2757, ext. 3050.

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“Duck, Duck, Goose!” is the theme of Family Nature Fun Hour from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24 at Crab Cove Visitor Center in Alameda. It’s a program about our feathered friends.

Family Nature Fun is from 2 to 3 p.m. every weekend, with a different topic each time. Then from 3 to 3:30 p.m. you can watch the staff feed the fish in the center’s large aquarium.

Crab Cove is at 1252 McKay Ave. off Alameda’s Central Avenue. Call 510-544-3187.

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Saturday Strolls are a series of family-friendly walks led by park district naturalists, designed to encourage health and outdoor recreation.

There’s one from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 23 at Leona Canyon in the Oakland hills. It’s a moderate four-miler up the canyon to a view of five Bay Area bridges.

Meet at the Canyon Oaks parking area, which is off Keller Drive east of I-580. For information and directions, call 510-544-3187.

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The Ohlone people have spent centuries learning the secrets of their homeland. In a program from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 23 at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, naturalist Kristina Parkison will share Ohlone knowledge of plants and animals, and lead some Ohlone games.

The program is for ages seven and older. Meet Kristina at the park’s visitor center at the end of Patterson Ranch Road off Paseo Padre Parkway.

The program is free; there’s a parking fee of $5 per vehicle at Coyote Hills. For information, call 510-544-3220.

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East Bay Regional Parks are never dormant, but springtime brings lots of great activities. For a full listing, visit the web site, www.ebparks.org.

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