California superblooms come highly-anticipated every year, but 2023 is shaping up to bring an especially bountiful spring season following the heavy rainfall we’ve experienced throughout the state. National Geographic wrote that 2023 could be the “year of the superbloom,” and some of the state’s biggest superblooms are even visible from space.
Where can I see superblooms and wildflowers in the Bay Area?
According to CA State Parks’ Flower Bloom Updates page, KTVU, Funcheap, and the latest off TikTok and IG, here’s the latest on where to find wildflower fields in the Bay right now. Be sure to look through the respective parks’ social media pages or location tags for an idea of what to expect, as some fields are more bountiful than others.
“Superblooms” happening now in the Bay Area
- Mori Point (Pacifica): See large swathes of yellow flowers and species including beach strawberry, checkerbloom, butter cups, coastal tidy tips, and California gold fields. Take the 3.2-mile Mori Point Peak Loop for great coastal views and wildflower viewing. This is the most superbloom-esque of the Bay Area wildflower fields right now.
- Mount Diablo (near Walnut Creek): Over 150 species of wildflowers bloom at this popular state park. Look for poppies along South Gate Road, North Gate Road, and the Mangini Ranch Educational Preserve.
- Coyote Hills Regional Park (Fremont): This park in Fremont has lovely large fields of California poppies and more, although the park is experiencing high visitor traffic so it’s worth going on a week day.
More places to see wildflowers in the Bay Area:
- SCA Trail (Sausalito): You may still be able to catch wildflowers in bloom here including paintbrush, checkerbloom, blue dicks, and California poppy.
- Tennessee Valley (Marin): See California poppies on the hillside after a moderate short hike to the beach.
- Nike Missile Site (Marin Headlands): The “most fully-restored Nike missile site in the country” is surrounded by blooming wildflowers including sun cups and morning glory.
- Coastal Trail to Hill 88 (Marin Headlands): This 6-mile trail will be blooming throughout the spring with California poppies, paintbrush, butter cups, and checkerbloom.
- Crissy Field Beach dunes (San Francisco): You may still be able to catch flowers in bloom along the dunes here including pink sea thrift and seaside daisy.
- Mount Tamalpais (Marin): Look for wildflowers on the Bolinas Ridge Trail, Dipsea Trail, Coast View Trail, and Redwood Creek Trail.
- China Camp State Park (San Rafael): Look for clusters of wildflowers including California poppy, narrowleaf mule’s ear, yellow mariposa lily, Ithuriel’s spear, and Douglas iris.
- Ed R. Levin County Park (Milpitas): See large swathes of yellow wildflowers on the Monument Peak and Agua Caliente trails.
- Trione-Annadel State Park (near Santa Rosa): Take the Cobblestone Trail for a chance to glimpse mariposa lily, ookow, red larkspur, and purple Chinese houses.
- Sugarloaf Ridge State Park (Kenwood): Lower Bald Mountain Trail will bring bring whispering bells, popcorn flowers, Diogenes’ lantern, blue dicks, lupine, and California poppy. Other trails to try are Creekside, Meadow, Meadow Hillside Loop, Vista Loop, Bald Mt and Goodspeed.
- Half Moon Bay State Beach (Half Moon Bay): Look for wildflowers blooming around the dunes at Half Moon Bay State Beach.
- Tilden Regional Park (Berkeley): This massive park in Berkeley has multiple fields of multicolored wildflowers on view.
- Edgewood Park and Nature Preserve (Redwood City): This park has sweeping serpentine grasslands that are known for large wildflower blooms every spring.
- Wilder Ranch State Park (Santa Cruz): The bluffs at Wilder Ranch are blooming with wildflowers betwen 3-Mile and 4-Mile beaches on the Ohlone Bluff Trail.
No matter where you visit, it’s essential to be respectful of the natural environment. Sightseers often stray from marked paths and trample the blossoms in order to get the perfect Instagram picture, which can be destructive to the desert landscapes where fragile native blooms usually occur. Make sure to plan your trip carefully and, quite simply, do not step on the plants.
What is a superbloom?
“Superbloom” is a non-technical term that’s come to refer to California’s rare, above-average wildflower blooms. It happens when seeds that have laid dormant in the soil begin to germinate and blossom all at once.
National Geographic elaborates that superblooms require a few basic ingredients to come to fruition: they are “a good rain year,” (but not just a single deluge), “cool nighttime temperatures, and a well-stocked seed bank.” Historically those conditions have brought superblooms every decade or so, although climate change has made that schedule much less predictable.
After California’s higher rainfall averages throughout the fall and winter, conditions are looking favorable for some 2023 superblooms.
Some other blooms we’ve enjoyed in past years include Bermuda Buttercups in Davenport and wild mustard in Half Moon Bay, although both are invasive species. In fact, in a rare exception to the “don’t step on the flowers” rule, Iacopi Farms invited visitors to walk among their invasive wild mustard bloom and even charged $10 admission fees. The flowers were crushed at the end of the season anyway to fertilize the land.
The European Space Agency, NASA, SF-based company Planet Labs, and Colorado-based Maxar Technologies have all captured exciting satellite images of colorful flower fields in California. Planet Labs captured large swathes of purple taking over Carrizo Plain National Park in Santa Margarita, and NASA images show flashes of yellow and lime green in the same area.
Finally, if you want to see a “superbloom” with a little more pizzazz, Bruce Munro’s giant LED Field of Light is still wowing crowds in Paso Robles. The superbloom-inspired light installation comprises nearly 60,000 solar-powered light-up spheres, whose colors change and shimmer to a custom musical score.