CNPS SCV Blazing Star Logo
California Native Plant Society

Santa Clara Valley Chapter

CNPS Santa Clara Valley Chapter Field Trips

IMG 7822 dee stella ken pinnacles 640pxChapter field trips are free and open to the public.  Field trips are oriented to conservation, protection and enjoyment of California native plants and wildlife.  A list of past field trips and reports can be found here.

Many other upcoming chapter activities are listed in the Blazing StarYou can also find many of our chapter field trips and other activities on our Meetup Group.  Signing up on Meetup allows the trip leaders to send notifications in case of changes or cancellations.

In our region it is important to be prepared for hiking on rugged and steep terrain, wide temperature ranges and rapidly changing conditions at any time of year. Our hikes are often slow with many stops and standing around for long periods. All participants should wear sturdy footwear and carry sufficient water, sun protection, food, clothing layers, personal first aid and other supplies you may need. Also bring hand lens and binoculars for viewing plants and fauna.

Cell service is mainly restricted to cities and major highways. On your way to an outing do not rely solely on your phone. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in a particular field trip, please contact the trip leader in advance.

 


RSVPs on Meetup

We are trying a new approach to RSVPs on Meetup. We will announce the events when they are posted. This will let folks note the trip and date. The RSVPs will open up one week before the event. If you are signed up for Meetup announcements, you will receive a second notice when the RSVPs open up. Our hope is that this will reduce the number of no shows as folks will be making RSVPs closer to the trip dates. We apologize to those for whom this creates an inconvenience.

 


Vernal Pool Wildflower Tours in Fremont

Come and experience the last piece of lowland vernal pool grassland in the South Bay.  The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge is inviting CNPS members to guided tours in the Warm Springs Unit, a site with limited public access.  These tours are being offered at different times to capture the temporal and spatial diversity of this unique site, home to many listed, rare and unusual species.

These tours are for CNPS members only. If you are interested in joining a tour, please contact Aidona Kakouros at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register.  Please indicate in your email 1) which of the tours you are interested in, 2) how many guests you are bringing, and 3) preferred email to send directions and any other notifications related to the event you are interested in.  Directions to the meeting site will be provided nearer to the event date.  Space is limited.

To join CNPS see https://www.cnps.org/

“Seas of Downingias” Tour, Saturday, May 25, 10:00am to 1:00pm: The wet winter this year is promising a spectacular display of calico flowers (Downingia pulchella).  Come and experience the beauty of this flower and its allies.  Treat your senses with a mini super bloom!

“Power to the Pollinators” Summer Native Plant Community Tour, Saturday, June 22, 9:00am to 12:30pm: At this time of year, the dry pools are dotted with saline tolerant, warm-season perennials such as alkali heliotrope (Heliotropium curassavicum), alkali mallow (Malvella leprosa) and alkali weed (Cressa truxillensis).  Super bloomers like common spikeweed (Centromadia pungens) and alkali heath (Frankenia salina) display masses of flowers, providing important sources of nectar to pollinators.  We’ll also seek out rare or unusual plants including Congdon's tarplant (Centromadia parryi ssp. congdonii), San Joaquin spearscale (Extriplex joaquinana) and Atriplex species

 


MAY 2024

Saturday, May 25, 10:00am to 1:00pm - Vernal Pools “Seas of Downingias” Tour

CNPS members only. See above under Vernal Pool Wildflower Tours in Fremont

 

Sun Mar 26  9:30am – 1:30pm  Bug & Plant Identification Walk at Sierra Azul OSP
Plants and insects are at the very bottom of the food chain – many higher forms of life depend on them for survival.  An intact native plant habitat supports a diverse insect population, which in turn feeds amphibians, reptiles, birds, small mammals and other animals.  Learn to identify the common native plants and insects of our area with California naturalists Karan Gathani and Arvind Kumar on a guided walk through Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve, the largest and southernmost preserve in the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

We will hike the Woods Trail with spectacular views of Mt Hamilton, Mt Umunhum, and the valley floor. Expect to see coast live oak, madrone, California bay, bigleaf maple, buckeye, bigberry manzanita, toyon, coffeeberry, cream bush, chamise, mountain mahogany, and sticky monkeyflower. We may encounter butterflies, bees, beetles, grasshoppers, flies, spiders, and ants.

The elevation gain is 600 ft; the distance covered is 5.4 miles round trip.

All interested in plant and insect identification are welcome; prior knowledge of botany or entomology is helpful but not required.

Wear good walking/hiking shoes.  Bring a sack lunch and plenty of fluids.  Drinking water is not available in the preserve.  We also suggest bringing a hat, sunscreen; and optionally, a hand lens and smartphone camera.  We expect to return to the parking lot by 1:30 pm.

RSVPs will open up one week before the event. RSVP is required to join us for the hike. Space is limited. No drop-ins please. To register, please visit the Chapter’s Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/.

Directions: In San Jose, exit Highway 85 at Camden Ave. (From 85 Southbound, turn left on Camden Ave. From 85 Northbound, turn left on Branham Avenue and then turn left on Camden Ave.) Travel south on Camden Ave. about 1.6 miles. Turn right on Hicks Road. Travel on Hicks Road about 6.3 miles. Turn right on Mt. Umunhum Road. The Preserve parking lot will be on the immediate right, and the trailhead is adjacent to the parking area. Overflow parking is available on the opposite side of Hicks Rd in Almaden Quicksilver County Park. In google maps, search for “Sierra Azul Parking Lot at Jacques Ridge”.

 


JUNE 2024

Sun June 2 10:00am - 2:00pm - Native Plant Introduction Hike at Piccheti Ranch Preserve (Cupertino)

Enjoy the Cupertino hills while hiking through Piccheti Ranch Preserve on June 2nd with Tom Lee. The trail passes through grasslands, chaparral and riparian areas, each offering varying native plants. The route is 4.1 miles long with an elevation gain of 620 feet. The trails have moderate terrain with beautiful views of the valley. Some flowers seen in past years at this season include Hairy Honeysuckle, California wildrose, and Cream bush along with turkeys and bees.

Wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots. Wear appropriate layering and a hat. Bring snacks, a sack lunch, and liquids for the day.

RSVP is required. RSVPs will open up one week before the event. Space is limited. No drop-ins, please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

Directions: From the I-280 Foothill Expressway exit, go 3.5 miles southwest on Foothill Boulevard, and turn right on Montebello Road. We will meet at the Pichetti Ranch Open Space Preserve Parking lot, which is just above the Piccheti Winery entrance.

 

Sun June 16 10:00am – 12:30pm - Plant ID & Beach Adventure at Wilder Ranch State Park & Fern Grotto Beach (Santa Cruz County)

Join California Naturalist Divya Shenoy to explore the coastal bluffs of Wilder Ranch and enjoy the beautiful Fern Grotto Beach. On this beginner native plant walk, we will walk along the Old Landing Cove Trail loop and stop by Fern Grotto Beach to take a lunch break and explore!

At the end, you can join us as we visit the Wilder Ranch Interpretive Center & Park Store to learn about the park’s farming history. This field trip is a family friendly event and no advanced hiking ability or plant identification experience is required.

We will see unique coastal plants, including seaside daisy, golden yarrow, and various fern species. We may also see sea lions, butterflies, whales, sea otters and birds such as cormorants, pelicans, and gulls.

Our walk will be about 3 miles long. The pace will be a stroll with water breaks, pauses to view plants, and a 30-minute snack break and exploration at the beach. There is a short dirt trail that is moderately steep, to get to the beach, so hiking poles are recommended for those who need additional stability and support.

Please wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Bring a snack or early lunch and plenty of water. Optionally, you can bring plant and bird identification guides and lists, binoculars and extra sandals for the beach.

Driving directions and parking tips are provided on Meetup (see below). We will park and meet at 10:00am in the “Wilder Ranch Day Use” parking lot, which has a restroom close by.  (Here’s a link to a map to the parking lot.)

RSVP is required. RSVPs will open up one week before the event. Space is limited. No drop-ins, please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

 

Saturday, June 22, 9:00am to 12:30pm - Vernal Pools “Power to the Pollinators” Summer Native Plant Community Tour

CNPS members only. See above under Vernal Pool Wildflower Tours in Fremont

 

Sun Jun 23  9:00am – 12:00pm  Bird and Plant ID Walk at Lake Cunningham Park  (San Jose)

With the onset of summer, join us for a beginner’s bird and plant identification walk through Lake Cunningham Park.  This lake is a major destination for waterfowl and migratory birds and its native garden draws many birds due to its habitat value.  On this walk, Vicki Silvas-Young will show you how to identify the common birds of our area, while Arvind Kumar will identify the native plants that they depend on for food and shelter.

The distance is 2 miles round-trip on a level path.  Bring a hat, water, your bird and plant lists, and binoculars.  Wear comfortable walking shoes.  The parking fee is $6, to be purchased with either exact cash or credit card at a machine.

We will meet at Parking Lot A on the east side of the park.  The park’s main entrance is located at 2305 S. White Road, San Jose.  (In Google Maps, search for 37.337451, -121.804069, to be directed to Parking Lot A.)

This event is cosponsored by CNPS, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society and Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.

RSVP is required. RSVPs will open up one week before the event. Space is limited. No drop-ins, please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

 


PAST FIELD TRIPS

MAY 2024

Sun May 5 10:00am – 2:00pm - Calero County Park Native Plant Hike (South San Jose)

Enjoy the pristine trails of Calero County Park with Tom Lee and Arvind Kumar. We will hike through serpentine grasslands, chaparral and oak woodlands. Some flowers seen in past years at this season include Ithuriel’s spear, lupine, fiddleneck and iris along with red-winged blackbirds.

This hike will be about 3 miles long with an elevation gain of 500 feet. The trail starts with some climb, and wraps around the Calero Reservoir.

Wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots. Wear appropriate layering and a hat. Bring snacks, a sack lunch, and liquids for the day. Dress in layers. Heavy rain cancels.

RSVP is required. RSVPs will open up one week before the event. Space is limited. No drop-ins, please.

To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

 

Sun May 12 10:30am – 1:30pm - Plant ID Walk at Alum Rock Park (East San Jose)

On this beginner and family friendly native plant walk, join California Naturalist Divya Shenoy, assisted by Arvind Kumar, to explore the creekside and shrubland habitats of Alum Rock County Park. We will walk along the beautiful Penitencia Creek Trail, Mineral Springs loop and other hillside trails. We will also stop by the Youth Science Institute Nature Center, which has live animals and an extraordinary taxidermy display!

We will see native plants such as the coast live oak, California bay laurel, toyon, buckeye and maidenhair ferns! We may see birds, such as Steller’s jays and acorn woodpeckers, butterflies and small mammals. We will also see historical mineral spring structures and discuss the ways Ohlone Native Americans utilized native plants.

The walk will be about 3 miles in length. The pace will be a stroll with water breaks, pauses to view plants, and a 15-minute snack break in the middle. There are some sections of trails with moderate inclines and declines, so hiking poles are recommended for those who need additional stability and support.

Please wear comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, a hat and bring plenty of water. Optionally, you can bring a snack, plant and bird identification guides and lists and binoculars.

Driving directions and parking tips are provided on our Chapter’s Meetup group. Drive past the first parking lot at the park entrance, past the ticket booth and past the next two lots. Park in any of the last group of three parking lots at the end of the park. One of the lots has a $6 parking fee and two are free. We will meet at 10:30am at the bridge nearest to the playground, which is next to a picnic table and bathroom. Alum Rock Park’s website includes a link to a park map.

RSVP is required. RSVPs will open up one week before the event. Space is limited. No drop-ins, please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/


 

APRIL 2024

Mon, Apr 8, 7 pm to 8 pm - Field Trip Planning Meeting (Zoom)
 
The goal is to identify leaders and trips with a focus on the next few months and into the summer. We'll discuss both local and away trips. Please bring the list of trips that you would like to lead, and be prepared to encourage others with trips you'd like to attend. 
 
Leaders with all levels of plant experience are encouraged. One does not need to be a botanist or a plant expert to lead. Co-leaders, sweeps and folks interested in organizing and assisting with trips are all welcome.
 
 
All members are welcome to join in the discussion. For further information email Nabeel Al-Shamma at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 
 
Wed, Apr 10, 9:30 am to 3:00 pm Pinnacles National Park (Paicines)

Pinnacles National Park protects beautiful rock formations, cliffs and canyons, and hosts a profusion of wildflowers. Join Nabeel Al-Shamma and Vicki Silvas-Young. We hope to see black sage, goldenstar, paintbrush, golden yarrow, dudleya, fringed onion, cobwebby thistle and maybe even bitterroot.

We'll head out from the Bear Gulch Parking Area and go up the High Peaks Trail. We'll take our time going up the steep part. At the top we'll have lunch and enjoy the views. Afterwards we'll return back to the start.

This is a long and strenuous day. The hike will be 4 miles but with 1500 ft of elevation change. Plus, it can take a good two hours or more to drive there.

Wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots. Hiking poles are recommended. Bring snacks, a sack lunch, and liquids for the day. Dress in layers. Consider binoculars for condor sightings. Heavy rain cancels.

There may be an optional non-CNPS hike afterwards that will be focused on adding a few miles vs observing.

Directions: Meet at the Bear Gulch Parking Area on the east side of the Park. If the lot is full, we'll park at the Peaks View Parking Area. Note that phones will not work at the trailhead. Please carpool, parking is tight.

National Park Entrance Fee: $30/car (or bring your pass if you have one).

CNPS Members only. RSVP is required. To RSVP or for more information contact Nabeel Al-Shamma at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Sat, Apr 20, 10:00 am to 1:00 pm - Vernal Pool Spring tour

CNPS members only. See above under Vernal Pool Wildflower Tours in Fremont

 

Sun, Apr 28, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm - Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve (Morgan Hill)

Explore the spring wildflowers at Rancho Canada del Oro with Nabeel Al-Shamma and Divya Shenoy. We'll stroll a couple of miles along and up the Longwall Canyon Trail. On the way we'll see poppies, popcorn flowers, lomatium, purple sanicle, fiddleneck and more.

The hike will be about 4 miles long with 1000 ft elevation change.

Wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots. Hiking poles are recommended. Bring snacks, a sack lunch, and liquids for the day. Dress in layers. Heavy rain cancels.

There is a shallow creek crossing early in the walk. The stepping rocks are unstable. Hiking poles will help. You many want a change of socks.

RSVP is required. Space is limited. No drop-ins, please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

Directions: Meet at the main parking lot, 4289 Casa Loma Rd, Morgan Hill, CA 95037. If full, there is overflow walking just up the road and it is a short walk back to the main lot.


MARCH 2024

Sun Mar 3  9:00am – 2:00pm  Bug & Plant Identification Walk at Sierra Azul OSP
Plants and insects are at the very bottom of the food chain – many higher forms of life depend on them for survival.  An intact native plant habitat supports a diverse insect population, which in turn feeds amphibians, reptiles, birds, small mammals and other animals.  Learn to identify the common native plants and insects of our area with California naturalists Karan Gathani and Arvind Kumar on a guided walk through Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve, the largest and southernmost preserve in the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

We will hike the Woods Trail with spectacular views of Mt. Hamilton and the valley floor.  Expect to see coast live oak, madrone, California bay, bigleaf maple, buckeye, big berry manzanita, toyon, coffeeberry, cream bush, chamise, mountain mahogany, and sticky monkeyflower.  We may encounter butterflies, bees, beetles, grasshoppers, flies, spiders and ants.

The elevation gain is 600 ft; the distance covered is 5.4 miles round trip.

All interested in plant and insect identification are welcome; prior knowledge of botany or entomology is helpful but not required.

Wear good walking/hiking shoes.  Bring a sack lunch and plenty of fluids.  Drinking water is not available in the preserve.  We also suggest bringing a hat, sunscreen; and optionally, a hand lens and smartphone camera.  We expect to return to the parking lot by 2:00pm.

RSVPs will open up one week before the event. RSVP is required to join us for the hike.  Space is limited. No drop-ins please.  To register, please visit the Chapter’s Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/.  We’ll meet at the Woods Trail trailhead – search for Google pin: “Sierra Azul Parking Lot at Jacques Ridge.”  Driving directions and parking tips are provided on the Meetup page.

 

Sun Mar 10, 9:00 am - 1:00 pm Stile Ranch Trail (South San Jose)

Join Dee and Ken Himes for a 3-4 mile early spring wildflower hike to Stile Ranch on the south side of Santa Teresa County Park, through serpentine grasslands and chaparral. This will be a great trip for those who are interested in plants and flowers that are endemic to the serpentine soil profile and seeps, and also for those who are new to field trips and native plants.

On this hike we expect to see in bloom California plantain, California gilia, woodland shooting star, California buttercups, a variety of Lomatiums and Sanicles, and maybe more with additional precipitation we had in February. We will also see leather oak and black salvias.

The hike will be moderate in intensity. We are starting earlier in the day to beat the heat as it gets pretty HOT, and there's no overhead shade until we get to the Fortini Trail. Bring extra water, snacks, a bag lunch, a wide brim hat and walking stick(s).

RSVP is required. Limited to 20 people due to narrow trails. No drop-ins, please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

Directions: From CA-85 in San Jose, exit Almaden Expy south. Continue south for about 5 miles to the end of the road then turn right onto Harry Rd. Take the next left onto McKean Rd and go 1.3 miles. Turn left onto Fortini Rd and continue 0.6 miles. Turn left onto San Vicente Ave, the parking lot is on the right in less than 0.25 miles. Latitude/Longitude: 37.203355, -121.806013

Note that this is at the southern end of Santa Teresa Park, not the main entrance.

Parking: Parking in a small gravel lot. No toilet facilities or water. No designated handicapped parking, the trail is not suitable for wheelchairs.

 
Sun Mar 17, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm First Day of Spring Bird and Plant ID Walk at Lake Cunningham Park (San Jose)

With the onset of Spring, join us for a beginner’s bird and plant identification walk through Lake Cunningham Park. This lake is a major destination for waterfowl and migratory birds and its native garden draws many birds due to its habitat value. On this walk, Vicki Silvas-Young will show you how to identify the common birds of our area, while Arvind Kumar will identify the native plants that they depend on for food and shelter.

The distance is 2 miles round-trip on a level path. Bring a hat, water, your bird and plant lists, and binoculars. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Parking fee is $6.

Directions: Meet at the Marina parking lot at 9 am. The Marina parking lot is on the western shore of the lake, next to Raging Waters, at the opposite side of the park from the main entrance on White Road. In Google Maps, search for "Lake Cunningham Marina" (37.33426, -121.81016) to be directed to the Marina.

RSVP is required. Space is limited. No drop-ins, please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

Co-sponsored by CNPS, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, and Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.

 

Sunday March 31 - Friday April 5 - Joshua Tree National Park
Join Patricia Evans and Joe Cernac at Joshua Tree National Park for four days of exploration/five nights of camping.  We hope wet weather will bring carpets of flowers but in any event expect to see the usual suspects: goldfields, blazing stars, and Phacelias (both bells and the usual perennials and annuals), along with regional perennial specialties like purple bush (Tetracoccus hallii), Menodora spinescens, Krameria sp., and many others.  And as a bonus, or if the rain fails us, the interesting geology of the Little San Bernadino Mountains.

We will camp at the Cottonwood Group Campground, which gives us good access to the lower and upper Sonoran Desert as well as the Mojave Desert floristic provinces.  Campground creature comforts include picnic tables, sun shades, flat areas for tents, fire pits, toilets and potable water.  Group site fees ($200) will be split among attendees, and there may be additional park entrance fees.  Weather is expected to be warm days and chilly nights.

Before signing on this trip, commit yourself to attending so no one else loses a spot on the list.  Singles should consider if you are willing to carpool (only 11 cars allowed for up to 20 people, no overflow parking).

This trip is for CNPS members only (please ensure your membership is up to date or join).  Space is limited.  No drop-ins.  To reserve your spot and for additional trip information, please contact:
Registration: Sarah Wang at (408) 348-5857 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Trip info: Patricia Evans at (650) 949-2801 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Botany info: Joe Cernac at (408) 499-2515 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 

FEBRUARY 2024

Sat Feb 10  10:00am – 2:00pm  Dirca Walk at San Francisco Peninsula Watershed  (San Mateo County)
Join Chapter Rare Plant Chair Don Thomas to see the rare Western leatherwood (Dirca occidentalis) in the Crystal Springs Watershed along the Sawyer Camp Trail.  This will be an easy slow-paced walk of about four miles round-trip, starting at the trailhead on Hillcrest and Highway 280, with a stop for lunch.

Dirca is one of the first plants to bloom each year, revealing its bright yellow hanging flowers from its bare winter branches.  We will also have a chance to see other early blooming plants, such as hound’s tongue (Adelinia grandis) and trillium (Trillium chloropetalum).

Dirca is a rare paleoendemic plant native only to the San Francisco Bay Area, ranked by CNPS as 1B.2.  (Read more about CNPS rare plant ranks at www.cnps.org/rare-plants/california-rare-plant-ranks.)

An optional additional short walk along the Sawyer Camp Trail will be to the Jepson Laurel.  This was at one time the largest bay tree in California, but it has been declining for many years.  Many large branches have died and broken off the tree over time, so it has been dethroned as the largest in the state.

Wear warm clothes and bring water and lunch.

RSVP is required to join us for the hike.  Space is limited.  No drop-ins please.  To complete the required RSVP, please visit our Chapter’s Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/. Driving directions and parking tips are provided on the Meetup page.


Sun Feb 16  10:00am – 1:00pm  Dirca Walk at Jasper Ridge  (Woodside)

This is an activity for CNPS Members. Everyone will go on the waitlist, and verified members will be admitted until the trip is full. If you are not a current member, you can join at https://cnps.org/join.

Join Vivian Neou for another chance to see the rare Western leatherwood (Dirca occidentalis), this time at Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve (JRBP).  This will be a slow-paced walk of about four miles to also see other plants that may be blooming.

JRBP is home to some of the largest stands of Dirca in the area.  Participants will have an opportunity to see several stands of Dirca, as well as to learn about ongoing research on Dirca.

JRBP is a private preserve and is not open to the public. The trip is limited to CNPS  members only and eight participants.  No drop-ins.  To complete the required RSVP, please visit our Chapter’s Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/.  Details will be sent to registered participants.

 

JANUARY 2024

Mon Jan 1 10am - 2pm New Year’s walk to Franklin Point, part of Año Nuevo State Park (Hwy 1 coast, southern San Mateo County)

Join CNPS members as we celebrate a Chapter tradition of welcoming the New Year with a walk to and BYO picnic at Franklin Point, which is part of the Año Nuevo State Preserve on the San Mateo County coast.

We will be exploring our surroundings as we casually walk towards Franklin Point, which is the most botanically interesting area of the park. We will be starting from the North Whitehouse Creek Trailhead, which is located south of Pescadero on Highway 1, just north of the Santa Cruz County line. We’ll enjoy ocean views, California native plants and raptors, songbirds and maybe marine mammals.

Coastal prairie flora we expect to see includes silver bur ragweed (Ambrosia chamissonis), California goldenbush (Ericameria ericoides), coastal sagewort (Artemisia pycnocephala) and Argentina anserina (Potentilla anserina).

Expected dune flora includes yellow sand verbena (Abronia latifolia), pink sand verbena (Abronia umbellata), sea side heliotrope (Heliotropium curassavicum) and American dunegrass (Eleymus mollis). We also expect to see sea cliff bluff lettuce (Dudleya farinosa) and fleshy jaumea (Jaumea carnosa).As this is a day to have fun sharing nature at the beach with fellow Chapter members, the end time and depth of botanical or fauna discussion may depend on participants’ preferences.

Bring binoculars and layers of clothing for variable coastal conditions including wind, sun, precipitation and fog. We will be walking on sand dunes. Bring a lunch or snacks and fluids. Extreme weather cancels. Before signing up, please read the Año Nuevo State Park restrictions at www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=523.

Note that there are no bathrooms at Franklin Point. Flush toilets are located at the main entrance of Año Nuevo State Park, which may require payment to enter. For more information, contact Nabeel Al-Shamma at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

RSVP is required to join us for the walk. Space is limited. No drop-ins please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

Driving directions and parking tips are provided on the Meetup page.



Thu Jan 4  7:00 – 9:00pm  Field Trip Planning Meeting  (Zoom)

Please join us at our 2024 Field Trip Planning Meeting. We will hold the meeting via Zoom. (Originally we were going to hold a hybrid meeting, but the room we planned to use will not be available).
 
The goal is to identify leaders and trips with a focus on the first half of 2024 and perhaps into the summer. We'll discuss both local and away trips. Please bring the list of trips that you would like to lead, and be prepared to encourage others with trips you'd like to attend. 
 
Leaders with all levels of plant experience are encouraged. One does not need to be a botanist or a plant expert to lead. Co-leaders, sweeps and folks interested in organizing and assisting with trips are all welcome.
 
 

Fri Jan 12  11:00am – 1:30pm  Winter Walk at Hidden Villa (Los Altos Hills)
Many of you have visited our CNPS SCV nursery during plant sales and events, but have you hiked the beautiful trails nearby?  Join Stella Yang and Judy Fenerty on a hike at Hidden Villa to see lovely streamside vegetation, mature chaparral, and heritage oak woodlands along the Ewing Hill trail.  The hike will be about 4 miles in distance and up to 850 feet elevation gain.  We should see silk tassel in bloom, numerous fern species emerging, and perhaps even early spring milkmaids.

We welcome newbies who are interested in learning more about the common plants typically seen in our area.  See the trail map here: www.hiddenvilla.org/visit/hiking-trails/.

Please dress in layers, bring a lunch, water and be aware that ticks are already present.  As always, please clean your boots and poles and remove seeds and mud at home before the hike.

RSVP is required to join us for the walk. Space is limited. No drop-ins please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

Parking at Hidden Villa costs $10 per car.  The address is 26870 Moody Rd, Los Altos Hills.  CNPS will match the amount paid in parking fees as a donation to Hidden Villa.  Please park in the main lot near the hostel.


Sun Jan 14  10:00am – 2:00pm  Winter Frolic with Ferns (Palo Alto Foothills Nature Preserve)
Join Deanna Giuliano for a moderately strenuous hike to visit ferns in Foothills Nature Preserve.  We will hike the Los Trancos trail to the Costanoan trail to the Fern loop for approximately 3.5 miles in distance and 600 feet of elevation gain.  We will see at least three to five species of ferns and possibly some fungi, mosses and lichens, along with other woodland species.

Deanna Giuliano is a Certified Botanist with CNPS and is the Nursery Director/Botanical Consultant for Grassroots Ecology.  Deanna has been botanizing, hiking and running the Santa Cruz Mountains for the last 25 years.

The park does charge an entrance fee of $6 per car.  We encourage carpooling.  You can check out the Foothills Nature Preserve website for more information.

Bring warm layers, raingear, water and snacks.  Heavy rain cancels.

RSVP is required to join us for the hike.  Space is limited. No drop-ins please.  To register, please visit the Chapter’s Meetup page.  We’ll meet at the Orchard Glen parking lot.  Driving directions and parking tips are provided on the Meetup page.

 

DECEMBER 2023

Sat Dec 16 9am -12noon Bird and Plant ID Walk at Lake Cunningham Park (San Jose)

With the onset of winter, join us for a beginner’s bird and plant identification walk through Lake Cunningham Park. This lake is a major destination for waterfowl and migratory birds and its native garden draws many birds due to its habitat value. On this walk, Vicki Silvas-Young will show you how to identify the common birds of our area, while Arvind Kumar will identify the native plants that they depend on for food and shelter.The distance is 2 miles round-trip on a level path.

Bring a hat, water, your bird and plant lists, and binoculars. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

RSVP is required to join us for the walk. Space is limited. No drop-ins please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

Driving directions and parking tips are provided on the Meetup page. We’ll meet at the Marina parking lot at 9am.

This event is cosponsored by CNPS, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society and Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.

 

NOVEMBER 2023

Sun Nov 5 - 10am –3pm - Berries for Birds: A Beginner’s Plant ID & Habitat Walk

Rancho Cañada del Oro Open Space Preserve (Morgan Hill)

Fall is the time when seeds and fruit of many native plants ripen and mature. This coincides with the start of the wet season, maximizing the potential for germination and propagation of the species. The fruit and seed bonanza sustains a wide variety of wildlife, including many types of birds and mammals. Some fauna play a key role in the dispersal and improved germination of these plants.

Join Arvind Kumar and Ashok Jethanandani on this beginner’s plant ID and habitat walk to look for a variety of native berries and fruit such as oak acorns, bay laurel nuts, buckeye nuts, holly-leaved cherries and a wide range of berries: madrone, manzanita, toyon, poison oak, coffeeberry, honeysuckle, elderberry, redberry and snowberry. Beginners interested in plant identification are welcome; prior knowledge of native plants or botany is not required.

RSVP is required to join us for the walk. Space is limited. No drop-ins please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

Driving directions and parking tips are provided on the Meetup page. Meet in the Rancho Canada del Oro Open Space Preserve parking lot at 10 am. The address is 4289 Casa Loma Rd, Morgan Hill

 

OCTOBER 2023

Sun, Oct 22 10:00AM to 2:00PM - Achistaca Trail to Saratoga Gap Open Space Preserve

Join Judy Fenerty and Stella Yang for this 4.5 mile, leisurely-paced loop hike, with moderate elevation gain and loss. We will see fall colors and will attempt to identify trees from their leaves on the trail. Bring your deductive powers and a lunch, and be prepared to look at our local forest from a different perspective.

There is no drinking water at the trailhead or on the hike, so please bring your own. In addition to a lunch for the trail, we recommend a hat, dressing in layers, and your favorite trail accessories (camera/smartphone/hand lens/binoculars/field guide/none).

RSVP is required to join us for the walk. Space is limited. No drop-ins please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

Meet at the parking lot at the corner of Highway 35 and Highway 9. Restroom facilities are available 2 miles south on Hwy 35 at Castle Rock State Park.

 

SEPTEMBER 2023

Sun - Sept 24 9am -12noon - Bird and Plant ID Walk at Lake Cunningham Park (San Jose)

At the onset of Fall, join us for a beginner’s bird and plant identification walk through Lake Cunningham Park. This lake is a major destination for waterfowl and migratory birds and its native garden draws many birds due to its habitat value. On this walk, Vicki Silvas-Young will show you how to identify the common birds of our area, while Arvind Kumar will identify the native plants that they depend on for food and shelter.

The distance is 2 miles round-trip on a level path. Bring a hat, water, your bird and plant lists, and binoculars. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

RSVP is required to join us for the walk. Space is limited. No drop-ins please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

Driving directions and parking tips are provided on the Meetup page. We’ll meet at the Marina parking lot at 9am.

Cosponsored by CNPS, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society and Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.

 

AUGUST 2023

Sun - Aug 20 9:30am –1:30pm Bean Hollow State Beach (Pescadero)

Plant Community Walk: Coastal Bluff Scrub

Why do plants grow where they grow? In nature, plants grow in readily identifiable communities or associations united by location (soil, topography and microclimate). Join Arvind Kumar and Ashok Jethanandani as we explore the coastal bluff scrub plant community at Bean Hollow State Beach. Beginners interestedin plant identification are welcome; prior knowledge of native plants or botany is not required.

We will take the Arroyo de los Frijoles Trail that goes from Bean Hollow Beach to Pebble Beach, and back. We expect to see coffeeberry, sagebrush, coyote brush, angelica, buckwheat, gumplant, seaside daisy, yarrow and more. The distance covered will be 1.5 miles with 45’ of elevation gain.

Bring a hat, water, a bag lunch and your favorite trail accessories (camera/smartphone/hand lens/binoculars/field guide/none). Dress in layers and appropriately for possibly foggy/windy weather. There is no drinking water in the park, so please bring your own.

Directions: The park is located 3 miles south of the town of Pescadero off Hwy 1. Take Hwy. 92 west to Half Moon Bay, then turn left on Hwy. 1 and go south for 18 miles, 3 miles past the town of Pescadero. We will meet in the parking lot at 9:30 am. Carpooling is recommended.

 

JUNE 2023

Sun - June 25 9am - 12noon First Day of Summer Bird and Plant ID Walk at Lake Cunningham Park, San Jose

With the onset of Summer, join us for a beginner’s bird and plant identification walk through Lake Cunningham Park. This lake is a major destination for waterfowl and migratory birds and its native garden draws many birds due to its habitat value. On this walk, Vicki Silvas-Young will show you how to identify the common birds of our area, while Arvind Kumar will identify the native plants that they depend on for food and shelter.

The distance is 2 miles round-trip on a level path. Bring a hat, water, your bird and plant lists, and binoculars. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

Directions: Meet at the Marina parking lot at 9am. The Marina parking lot is on the western shore of the lake, next to Raging Waters, at the opposite side of the park from the main entrance on White Road. Parking fee is $6. In Google Maps, search for “Lake Cunningham Marina” (37.3353176 -121.8120059) to be directed to the Marina. RSVP is required to join us for the walk. Space is limited. No drop-ins please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

Cosponsored by CNPS, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society and Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.

 

MAY 2023

Sun - May 7 10am-3pm Sierra Azul Open Space (San Jose)

Woods Trail Through a Gardener’s Eye: Locally Native Plants for Bay Area Gardens

With an Option for a Shorter Hike Ending at 12:30pm

California’s plant diversity is among the greatest in the world and many of our native plants are suitable for landscaping. It is easy to see why: locally native plants have evolved in local soils and microclimates and fit perfectly in Bay Area gardens.

Join Arvind Kumar, Ashok Jethanandani, Stephanie Morris and Vicki Silvas-Young on this walk along Woods Trail to learn about the native plants local to our area. Arvind and Ashok are home gardeners in San Jose with a special interest in local natives. Stephanie is a landscape architect and past Gardening with Natives Committee chair. Vicki leads many field trips for the Chapter, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society and Open Space Authority.

This hike is particularly focused on native plants on the trail that work well in gardens (and are generally available at native plant nurseries). It is not a detailed plant taxonomy trip. Observing the microclimates, companions and mature sizes of locally native plants can be a fantastic way to learn more about native plant gardening.

This contour trail of the Sierra Azul range has gradual ascents/descents, and the north-facing aspect keeps it cool even on warm days. The plants are flourishing after this season’s extended rainfall, and many may still be blooming. Plan future additions to your garden armed with the knowledge of the many attractive shrubs, subshrubs, perennials, and annuals that grow naturally here.

The full-length walk is 5.6 miles (out and back), with 330 ft of elevation gain/loss. Dress in layers, appropriately for the weather. Bring a sack lunch and plenty of fluids.

For those wishing to take a shorter hike, we will also leave with the main group at 10am but we will turn back earlier and skip the lunch break, returning to the parking lot by about 12:30pm. The shorter trip is about 2.5 miles and is also perfect for families! Bring water and bring snacks if desired.

Directions: Take Hwy 85 to San Jose. Take the Camden Ave. exit and go south. In 1.8 mi, turn right on Hicks Rd. After 6.3 miles, turn right on Mt Umunhum Rd. The parking lot is immediately on the right. In Google maps drive to pin “Sierra Azul Parking Lot at Jacques Ridge.”

We will meet in the lot at 10am and plan to return by 3 pm. (If the lot is full, find parking on the opposite side of Hicks Rd. in Almaden Quicksilver Park’s Wood Road lot and walk back.)

RSVP is required to join us for the walk. Space is limited. No drop-ins please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

 

APRIL 2023

Fri - Sun April 7 - 9 Hite Cove Trail and Mariposa Overnight Field Trip (Mariposa County)

MEMBERS ONLY

Radhika Thekkath invites you to join her for three days at her family’s vacation log house and cabin in Mariposa to explore wildflowers on the 15-acre private property. The property is a 3 hour drive from the Bay Area and located at 2800 ft. elevation. Everyone will be accommodated using a combination of beds and tents based on a first come basis.

We will also take a moderate hike of 6.5-miles round-trip on the Hite Cove trail off Highway 140. https://www.yosemite.com/what-to-do/hite-cove/ It has been five years since the Ferguson fire came through here. Plant list from last year will be sent out to participants before the trip.

This trip is for CNPS members only (please ensure your membership is up to date or join). Space is limited. No drop-ins. To reserve your spot and for additional trip information, please contact Radhika at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Detailed trip information will be emailed to registered participants closer to the trip date.

 

Sat - April 29, 10:30am - 2pm Quail Hollow Ranch (Santa Cruz County)

The Santa Cruz Sandhills are a unique community of plants and animals found only on outcrops of Zayante sand soil in the central portion of Santa Cruz County. Join Joe Cernac and Jane Gomery for an easy tour of these Sandhills as presented in Quail Hollow Ranch County Park.

We will follow the Sunset Trail to Sunset Vista Point. Along the way we expect to see ponderosa pine and several manzanitas, including Arctostaphylos crustacea ssp. crinita, Arctostaphylos sensitiva and Arctostaphylos silvicola. We will also see many annual plants.

The round trip distance covered will be about 2.5 miles with a 5% grade in places. Elevation gain is only a few hundred feet. Parts of the trail are very sandy. Bring lunch and liquids.

To learn more about the Santa Cruz Sandhills visit www.santacruzsandhills.com/overview.html.

Directions: From San Jose, take Hwy. 17 south to the Scotts Valley exit and take Scotts Valley Rd. south to Mt. Hermon Rd. in Scotts Valley. Turn right and take Mt. Hermon Rd. until it dead-ends on Graham Hill Rd. Turn left on Graham Hill toward Santa Cruz. At the first light, which is E. Zayante Rd., turn left. Go approx. 2 mi. and make a left onto Quail Hollow Rd. Travel approximately ½ mi. The park entrance is on the right.

We will meet in the main parking lot at 10:30am. For maps and further directions, visit www.scparks.com/quail_hollow_directions.html

You can find the plant list on Calflora, which contains 550 entries: https://www.calflora.org/app/ipl?sva=5029&fmt=simple&wgs=srch::t!!fmt::photo!!inbp::t!!bgid::psd16945!!y::37.0879!!x::-122.06!!z::12!!lpom::d

RSVP is required to join us for the walk. Space is limited. No drop-ins please. To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/

 

MARCH 2023

Sat March 4, 10-4 PM San Bruno Mountain State and County Park (Brisbane)

Join Ken and Dee Himes along the summit loop trail to see early flowering plants in the coastal scrub and coastal grassland plant communities. The hike will be about 4 miles in distance with an elevation change of about 800 feet. Dress warmly in layers as it can be very windy, and wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots. Hiking poles are recommended. Bring snacks and a sack lunch, and liquids for the day. Heavy rain cancels. For more information call Ken, 650–9 33–6319 or email Ken or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or email dee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Directions: From Hwy. 101 northbound, take Old Bayshore/Brisbane exit and proceed north on Old Bayshore, past the town of Brisbane. Make a left turn onto Guadalupe Cyn. Pkwy., and follow it uphill (west) about a mile and a half to the park entrance. We will meet at 10AM inside the parking lot just beyond the entrance kiosk. There is a $6/day use parking fee. Bring exact change.

Link to map: https://goo.gl/maps/mxei2DG9ghM5Cqo58

Park Website: https://www.smcgov.org/parks/san-bruno-mountain-state-county-park

 

Mon - Fri March 13-17 Anza Borrego State Park Camping Trip (CNPS MEMBERS ONLY TRIP)

Join us for four nights of camping at Anza Borrego State Park. Patricia Evans and Joe Cernac will co-lead this event. We’ll meet on the first day on Monday. Hike/ botanize on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday will be a half day at the park or further north on our return. It is too early to predict if the rains will bring a great show, but we hope to see the usual suspects: rose sand verbenas, suncups, Ocotillo flowering red as well as Chuparosa and yellow Encelia.

The cost for camping will be between $45-55 per person for four nights, depending on the number of people. Plan on travel days ahead and behind the hiking days March 14-16. Anza Borrego is in San Diego county, ten hours away from the Bay Area. Because camping in the park is already “sold out”, you should reserve asap with Patricia Evans by calling 650-949-2801. If you email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., you are not guaranteed a spot until she calls you back, so please include a phone number.

 

Sun Mar 19, 9am - 12 noon First Day of Spring Bird and Plant ID Walk at Lake Cunningham Park, San Jose

With the onset of Spring, join us for a beginner’s bird and plant identification walk through Lake Cunningham Park. This lake is a major destination for waterfowl and migratory birds and its native garden draws many birds due to its habitat value. On this walk, Vicki Silvas-Young will show you how to identify the common birds of our area, while Arvind Kumar will identify the native plants that they depend on for food and shelter.

The distance is 4 miles round-trip on a level path. Bring a hat, water, your bird and plant lists, and binoculars. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

Directions: Meet at the Marina parking lot at 9am. The Marina parking lot is on the western shore of the lake, next to Raging Waters, at the opposite side of the park from the main entrance on White Road. Parking fee is $6. In Google Maps, search for “Lake Cunningham Marina” (37.33426 -121.81016) to be directed to the Marina. 

RSVP is required to join us for the walk. Space is limited. No drop-ins please.

To register, please visit the Meetup page at https://www.meetup.com/California-Native-Plant-Society-Santa-Clara-Valley-Chapter/  

Cosponsored by CNPS, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society and Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority.

 

Thu March 30, 9:30am - 2pm Red Hills - Tuolumne County

MEMBERS ONLY

Red Hills, is a foothill sierran serpentine region in Tuolumne County. About a two hour drive from the bay area. We will walk two sections observing what we hope will be an early peak blooming, at the shoulder season between winter and spring. Rare serpentine endemic Eriogonum tripodumChlorogalum grandiflorum and Allium tuolumnense are present. Hopefully bitteroot will be in bloom.  Join Janet Hoffmann <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> and Joe Cernac <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> as we observe, heads bowed to the ground, this flora rich area. We will meet at the main parking lot at 9:30 am. There is a bathroom at the parking lot. Email the leaders for directions and any other questions. https://www.blm.gov/visit/red-hills-recreation-management-area


This trip is for CNPS members only (please ensure your membership is up to date or join). Space is limited. No drop ins. To reserve your spot and for additional trip information, please contact the trip leaders.


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