Sunday, March 4, 2012

Trilliums are out

Aged cluster of redwoods
We’ve had a lot going on lately, but I took some time out for hike last Saturday and got the notion to hunt for trilliums. They usually start coming out early, and one of my favorite places to look for them is Purisima Creek. This is a great little preserve situated in the coastal mountains above and just south of Half Moon Bay. The trilliums come out in lots of other places, but they just seem to flourish here for some reason I have never been able to discover. I’ve had many cold, foggy, and wet visits here including last year when I got thrashed by rain and hail, so it was great to finally enjoy a beautiful sunny day for this route. I enjoyed great Pacific Ocean views from vantage points on top of Purisima’s ridges. So nice were the views that I could actually spot the Farallon Islands from points along the North Ridge and the Harkins Ridge trails with the naked eye. I almost wished I had gone to Montera Mountain instead to get the full 360 degree sea air imbued panorama including the bay, but I had come here for a specific purpose. I also took some time to admire some of the remaining examples of old growth redwood that somehow got missed when this area was logged many moons ago. Despite the logging history the terrain here is mostly thickly wooded with many tall conifers and a thick canopy. It’s a beautiful place to hike any time. The best displays of Trilliums are on the Craig Britton and the Whittemore Gulch trails. When spring arrives in earnest, there will be lots of other wild flower varieties. We spotted two types of nightshade, two types of violets, chaparral current, wild cucumber, and hounds tongue, but these were just beginning to show and weren’t really photogenic yet. The better displays are yet to come.

The route that I used for this hike begins at the main trailhead up on Skyline. The track log I’m linking here is actually my same exact route from last year. The route is an “inverse” hike requiring a steep uphill return back to 2000 feet. Another more remote trailhead can be accessed by driving to the south side of Half Moon Bay and taking Higgins Canyon Road a few miles to the rather small parking lot. Getting there takes a lot more driving, but will allow you to begin at the lowest elevation in the park giving you a downhill return. I would recommend getting there early if you want to that because on a nice day, this place is popular. As I was leaving in the early afternoon, the parking on skyline was full and people were squeezing their parked cars along the highway. It wasn’t a crowed hike though. I have attached a few photos below, but you can also click here see my photoset on flickr.

Pacific trillium (Trillium ovatum)

Pacific trillium (Trillium ovatum)

Giant Trillium (Trillium chloropetalum)

Chaparral Currant (Ribes malvaceum)

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