Hiking for Wildflowers at Mt. Tamalpais

Hiking is a great way to stay active during the weekends. It also allows you to enjoy the outdoor fresh air and the nature. Depending on the seasons, you get to see different wildflowers.
I am going to share with you all the beautiful wildflowers I saw along a trail in Marin County, California in April 2021.

The Trail

We started the trip from Rock Spring trailhead and hiked along Cataract Creek to Alpine Lake and saw Cataract Fall. Cataract is one of the most popular trails on Mt. Tamalpais. The elevation drops from 1970 feet at Rock Spring to 650 feet at Alpine Lake, with some steep sections.

sky lupine (Lupinus nanus)
sky lupine (Lupinus nanus)

The first flower you will see at the Rock Spring trailhead is sky lupine (Lupinus nanus). Sky lupine has many bicolor pea-like flowers in a whorl. I find this wildflower stunning because the of the color. Despite the sky being blue, blue is actually a rare color to be found on land in nature.

fairy slipper or calypso orchid (Calypso bulbosa)
fairy slipper or calypso orchid (Calypso bulbosa)
fairy slipper or calypso orchid (Calypso bulbosa)

Soon after the meadow section of the trail, you’ll enter an area that is more shaded. The humid part of the forest floor under Douglas fir trees has some breathtaking wildflowers – fairy slipper or calypso orchid (Calypso bulbosa). This orchid is native to California. It has a pouch-like labellum (lip) with showy pattern or color to attract pollinators. I rarely run into wild orchids. Encountering this enchanting petite orchid during the hike definitely made my day!

oxalis or wood sorrel (Oxalis Oregana)
oxalis or wood sorrel (Oxalis Oregana)

Along this steeper section of the hike, there are many patches of oxalis or wood sorrel (Oxalis Oregana). The leaves are as interesting as the flowers. The three leaflets are heart-shape. If you’re lucky, you might find a four-leaf lucky one! Can you spot the four-leaf one in the photo above? 🙂

Since it’s a hike along the Cataract Creek, there is always pleasant creek scenery to enjoy. The tree barks covered with ferns are absolutely stunning!

chocolate lily (Fritillaria affinis)
chocolate lily (Fritillaria affinis)

You can also see chocolate lily (Fritillaria affinis) along this trail. Unlike the lilies you see at flower shops, this wild lily is more humble-looking. The flowers open towards the ground and have a dark chocolate color that is not easy to notice in the wild.

pacific trillium (Trillium ovatum)
pacific trillium (Trillium ovatum)

Last but not least, when you get to Cataract Fall, there are quite some pacific trillium (Trillium ovatum) around. This wildflower is easily recognized because of the interesting plant shape. The three-petaled solitary flower blooms in the middle of a trio of leaves.

pacific trillium (Trillium ovatum)

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