Its official, spring has arrived in Monterey County! The weather is slowly warming up, the days are longer, and the hiking paths have become more vibrant and colorful. The central coast is well-known for its variety of wild flowers that paint the coastline, fields, and hillsides with hues that span the entire rainbow. To take the guess work out of where to begin your next wildflower hike, we have put together a list of some of the top spots around Monterey County. Enjoy!
1. Garrapata State Park
Garrapata is one of the area's most popular hikes and for good reason. The diversity of the park allows you to experience both the ragged coastline and lush redwood forests all within a short distance. In the spring and early summer months California poppies, wild irises and Indian paintbrush sprinkle the hills and coastline making for some fantastic views and photo opps.
To fully immerse yourself in a sea of wildflowers seek out the "Calla Lily Canyon" within the Garrapata State Park. Located just off of Highway One, a coastal trail takes you to a secluded beach and canyon scattered with dozens of calla lilies.
2. Pacific Grove Coastline
Don't be surprised if you need your sunglasses while driving down Ocean View Boulevard or biking along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail in Pacific Grove. A phenomenon known as the "Magic Purple Carpet" springs up along PG's breathtaking coastline beginning in early April and lasting through late May. The magenta ice plant blankets the rocky coast for a truly neon spectacle set against the Pacific Ocean.
3. Garland Ranch Regional Park
Garland Ranch's trails offer hikes for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts looking to enjoy iconic views of rolling California hills. Spring is an especially good time to visit when the fields and meadows are dotted with fresh colorful blossoms ranging from purple and gold to orange and blue. The Terrace trail, in the Garzas Canyon section of the park is particularly popular for monkey flowers and shooting stars.
4. Fort Ord National Monument
Fort Ord is home to over 35 species of rare plants and animals, including a plethora of wildflowers. This hiking and biking paradise features miles of trails through vast rolling hills, oak groves and vistas of the Monterey Bay. On any given day the views from Fort Ord are lovely but the rainbow of color added by the wild flowers makes it absolutely incredible. Sky lupine, California poppies and wild daffodils particularly thrive within the 7,200 acre park.
5. Toro Park
Toro Park off of Highway 68 in Salinas is a perfect spot to take your family. Not only can you lust after the abundant lupine patches but this park also hosts a range of activities including mountain biking, barbeque areas, playgrounds, and over 20 miles of beautiful hiking and biking trails. Gather some friends and family and then hit the trails to enjoy a picnic in the sunshine surrounded by these spectacular sky blue and royal purple lupine blooms set against lush rolling hills.
Below you can find a list of just a few of the iconic wildflowers in the area. See how many you can spot on your next outdoor adventure. Click here for more information on wildflower species.
Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana)
California Poppy (Eschscholzia California)
Sticky Monkey (Mimulus aurantiacus)
Coast Morning-Glory (Convolvulus macrostegia ssp. cyclostegia)
Sky Lupine (Lupinus nanus)
Yellow Bush Lupine (Lupinus arboreus)
California Wild Rose (Rosa californica)
California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum var. foliosum)
Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)
Calla Lilly (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
Ice Plant or Sea Fig (Carpobrotus chilensis)
California Gilia (Gilia achilleifolia)
Monterey Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja latifolia)