Spring Day Trips – Bay Area

California wildflowers are in full bloom. Thanks to March’s torrential rains, this spring’s flower season is turning out to be one of the best in years. Up and down the state, the land is electric green, dotted with swaths of orange, white, purple and yellow flowers—even I-5 looks gorgeous right now. But hurry—in just a few short weeks, the hills will turn the color of lion’s fur, the color of summer. I’ll be overseas, but if I were home, here’s what I would do this April:
Trek the Marin Headlands for spectacular displays of bright-orange California poppies, clinging to the rocks above the crashing surf. On weekdays, when crowds are few, hike Tennessee Valley. On weekends, head to Gerbode Valley. Dogs are allowed on some trails. Read more.

Hike Table Rock Trail, in Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. The views of Napa Valley from Mount St Helena may be prettier in autumn when the vineyards change color, but springtime puts the beauty right at your feet. Literally. Look for purple lupine and popcorn flower poking up through the lush grass. The 2.2mi (one-way) trek begins at the south-summit parking area, off Hwy 29, north of Calistoga.

Bite into the season’s first ruby-red strawberries at Swanton Organic Berry Farm, on the San Mateo Coast. Pick your own—a great Saturday activity with the kids—or buy a basket at the old-fashioned self-service stand, which also carries homemade pies, strawberry lemonade, and terrific preserves. Swanton is the ideal stopover after a day exploring the beaches of the San Mateo Coast, or while driving northward from Santa Cruz on Hwy 1.

Spot newborn snowy egrets in the treetops of the Audubon Canyon Ranch. One of the Bay Area’s most sublime natural wonders, hundreds of egrets and great blue herons are courting and nesting in the treetops of the Audubon Canyon Ranch, in West Marin. If you’ve never seen these magnificent birds up close, now’s your chance. Read more.

I’ll be back in the States this May. Till then, happy travels! —John