Saturday March 19, 10:00 am, Alhambra Creek watershed
Join Igor and Shirley Skaredoff on this hike up from the Strenzel Meadow restoration area through the upper reaches of the watershed on oak woodland near Mt. Wanda. Janet Gawthrop will provide plant identification of early spring forbs and trees, including oaks and buckeyes just starting their leaves. This hike will last about 1/2 day, but bring water and be prepared for possibly muddy trails.
Directions: Take Highway 4 to Martinez and exit at Alhambra Avenue. Turn onto Alhambra Avenue going under the trestle, away from the Carquinez Strait and downtown Martinez. Go less than 1 mile inland on Alhambra Avenue and then turn right on Alhambra Valley Road. The John Muir Grove will be on the left as you turn. Continue past Sheridan and Strenzel Streets to the left, and then you will see the meadow on your right, across from Jose Lane. Turn right onto the private drive at 5026 Alhambra Valley Road. Strain is the name of the folks adjacent to the meadow; in fact this was their meadow until they sold it to the National Park Service for the watershed/flood/plant restoration project.
Sunday, March 20, 2:00 pm, Bird Trail (Chabot Regional Park)
This short (about 1/2 mile, with insignificant elevation gain) trail is a botanically interesting transition zone between redwood forest and mixed evergreen (mostly oak/bay) forest with osoberry, flowering currant, gooseberries, and western leatherwood, and early wildflowers such as Trillium chloropetalum. The trail starts close to the MacDonald Staging Area in Chabot Regional Park off Redwood Road in Oakland.
Directions: Get on 13 south (going east on Ashby Avenue in Berkeley, or from 24 just before the Caldecott tunnel). Once on 13, take the Redwood Road exit. On Redwood Road, go east (uphill). At the top of the hill cross Skyline Boulevard and go down into the valley, passing various equestrian facilities. About two miles from Skyline Boulevard, turn right into the MacDonald Staging Area parking lot. Please contact David Margolies (510-654-0283 (h), 510-393-1858 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need further information.
Saturday, March 26, 9:30 am, Seafoam Loop and Black Oak Loop at Kennedy Grove, El Sobrante
On this field trip, Gregg Weber will compare the native-plant rich area to the Eucalyptus plantation. Under the shady areas dominated by bay trees, there is more plant diversity than you would expect, with many common natives, and some unusual ones. This is a short 2.5 mile walk, with only a 400 feet elevation gain up to the ridge, and 150 feet elevation gain on Black Oak Loop.
Directions: From I-80, exit at San Pablo Dam Road and turn onto Castro Ranch Road in El Sobrante. From Orinda , follow Castro Ranch Road to El Sobrante. Go two blocks on Castro Ranch Road, and then turn right onto Hillside Drive. Go about 1/2 mile to the end of Hillside Drive, and then turn left on Patra Drive and park near the trailhead. No entrance fees. Do not turn into the Kennedy Grove park entrance on San Pablo Dam Road.
Sunday, April 3, 9:30 am. Gregg Weber will lead this field trip to Toyon Canyon at Briones Regional Park.
See the March Bay Leaf for directions and a description, or you can call Gregg at 510- 223-3310.
Sunday, April 9, 9:30 am, Mitchell Canyon at Mount Diablo State Park
This year Gregg Weber will lead the hike up the canyon during the mid-spring abundance of oak woodland and grassland flowers, including buttercups, larkspurs, owl's clover, blue dicks, Mount Diablo globe lily and other Calochortus. Bring $10 (?) for parking or your state parks pass. A couple of good books that describe this area's plants are Barbara Ertter's updated Flora of Mount Diablo (from Mary Bowerman's earlier version), and Yulan Tong's photo book on Calochortus.
Directions: From west of the Oakland/Berkeley hills, take 24 east and continue to the 680 interchange. Follow the lanes marked for 680 north, but then move immediately to the Ygnacio Valley Road exit, and turn right at the traffic light at the end of the ramp to go east. Stay on Ygnacio Vallley Road for several miles (past John Muir Hospital, through suburbs, past the Lime Ridge entrance and a Cal State campus) to Clayton Road, where you turn right at another traffic light. Go through several intersections on Clayton Road, and then turn right again at Mitchell Canyon Road. Go to the parking lot at the end (there is a fee). Meet at the start of the trail near the visitor's center.
Saturday, April 16 9:30 am, Burma Road at Mount Diablo State Park
Meet at 9:30 am at the Burma Road crossing of North Gate Road in Mount Diablo State Park. We will walk Burma Road from Camel Rock to Moses Spring Rock. This route will take us along part of Long Ridge, featured in Steve Edwards' 2006-07 Wayne Roderick Lecture on Mt. Diablo. We will see a variety of spring flowers and some uncommon plants as we pass through woodland, grassland and chaparral areas. There is a 1000-foot elevation gain on the way out, and downhill on the way back. The round trip is about 4 miles and should take about 4 hours, so bring lunch and water. We will not be deterred by rain and will proceed regardless of weather.
Call Gregg Weber at 510-223-3310 if you have questions about this or other Mt. Diablo field trips.
Directions: Take the North Gate Road entrance to the park—state parks charge $10 for cars. Continue on North Gate Road for about 2-3 miles and park at the Burma Road trail crossing.
Sunday, April 17, 9:30 am-1:30 pm, tour of Ackerman Property and Dry Creek (yes, another Dry Creek)
Heath Bartosh and Seth Adams will lead this tour, which will start from the staging area at Round Valley Regional Park to consolidate for carpools. Save Mount Diablo has been given access to lead a guided tour of an extremely important, 340-acre property on the edge of Brentwood. Preserved by Contra Costa Water District as part of a mitigation package for Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion, the entirety of this property is endangered species habitat and it functions as an important wildlife corridor between the new Cowell Ranch State Park and other areas. Parallel ridges cut through its center and slope down to rare alkali seasonal wetlands with 360 degree views that stretch from Mount Diablo to the Sierra Nevada on a clear day. This trip will also be in celebration of California Native Plant Week, with East Bay CNPS Rare Plant Botanist Heath Bartosh identifying the flora. Don't miss the opportunity to visit this treasure, possibly followed by a short hike to the top of SMD's new Dry Creek property. A large group may be in attendance, so RSVP with Heath Bartosh at 925-228-3027 or email@example.com. Round Valley Staging Area is located on Marsh Creek Road, outside of Brentwood. For a map including the staging area, go to http://www.ebparks.org/files/.
Sunday, April 24, 9:30 am, East Trail at Mount Diablo State Park
Meet across from the Divide Reservoir sign on Marsh Creek Road in Clayton. This trip goes through some very nice native plant habitat on the northeast side of Mount Diablo, with an interesting live oak forest. This walk has 1600 feet elevation gain on the way out, and downhill on the return. The round trip is about 6 miles. Figure on returning to the parking lot around 3-4 pm. Bring lunch and water. We will take 3 Springs Road, Olympia Trail, East Trail and Zippe Trail.
Directions: Take 24 or 680 to Ygnacio Valley Road. Continue on Ygnacio Valley Road several miles from Walnut Creek into the city of Clayton, and turn right onto Clayton Road at its stoplight intersection with Ygnacio Valley. Take Clayton Road past the first intersection with Marsh Creek Road, and in about a mile it becomes Marsh Creek Road. Continue straight on Marsh Creek Road, and go about 2 miles past Regency Drive. As you go uphill, look for the Divide Reservoir sign (not the Nob Hill Reservoir sign). Park on the right side of the road across from the Divide Reservoir sign, where there is plenty of space to park. Call Gregg Weber at 510-223-3310 if you have questions.
Saturday, April 30, 10:00 am-2:00 pm, Point Molate grasslands (western Contra Costa County)
This is the time to visit one of the last intact coastal bunchgrass prairies in flower, on the Potrero Hills at Point Molate. David Amme will lead this trip to an area now facing several development proposals considered by the City of Richmond and the US Department of the Interior. Point Molate is a peninsula in the narrows of San Pablo Bay, in the rain shadow of the Marin County hills. On the knolls and swales overlooking the bay are coastal prairie meadows, which transition into valley grassland. California oatgrass grows with purple needlegrass, squirreltail, junegrass, and red fescue next to patches of California fescue and the unique form of creeping wildrye. On this trip we will enjoy this still undisturbed beauty and discuss what can be done to save it.
Directions: From the East Bay, take the Western Drive/Point Molate exit from 580, just before the toll booths at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Proceed straight at the first 3-way fork, which gradually rises up a hill, curving more towards the north. As the road descends the hill, park at the parking lot right before the open gate marked Point Molate Restricted Area.
Saturdays, April 9 and April 16, 10 am-12 pm, Warm Springs Vernal Pool Tours (San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge)
Come see the flower rings bloom around some of the last intact vernal pools in the East Bay! Newcomers will enjoy learning about the unique features of a vernal pool grassland, and visitors from past years can observe the pools in what will likely be a good rain year. Participants will see endangered Contra Costa goldfields, as well as several species of popcorn flower (Plagiobothrys), as well as Downingia and other native vernal pool and upland species.
Refuge staff will lead a tour of the Warm Springs Unit of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The walking tour will last about 1.5-2 hours. The total walking distance will not exceed one mile, but the terrain is uneven. Please wear sturdy shoes and dress according to the weather. Heavy rain will cancel.
Directions: We will meet off Cushing Road in Fremont. Take I-880 to the Fremont Blvd/Cushing Parkway exit (Exit 13B) toward Cushing. Turn left on Fremont (if you are coming from the north, turn right on Fremont) and right on Cushing Parkway. Go past the light at Northport Loop. On the left side, immediately after the LAM business park, there will be a blue pipe gate across a gravel road. We will meet there. RSVP by e-mail to Ivette Loredo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 510-792-4275X134 for reservations. Tours are limited to 20 people due to the sensitivity of the vernal pool ecosystem.
Past Field Trips
Sunday, February 27, 2 pm, Redwood Regional Park. David Margolies will lead a walk along the stream and on the slopes above Redwood Creek in this large East Bay redwood forest, looking at early flowering plants and the trees and shrubs of the redwood forest. We will also look for newts and rainbow trout in Redwood Creek. The whole walk is about 2.5 miles with steep uphill and steep downhill portions. Walkers who want to avoid the steep trails can return along the stream trail about halfway through the walk. Meet at the Redwood Gate parking area at 2:00 pm.
Directions: To get there from the northern East Bay, get on 13 South (go east on Ashby Avenue in Berkeley, for example) and take the Redwood Road exit. From Oakland, go east on 35th Avenue (which turns into Redwood Road). From the southern East Bay, take 580 West to 13 North and exit at Redwood Road (immediately after the junction). From San Francisco, take the Bay Bridge, staying to the right (but do not go to San Jose). Take 580 East, and then 24 East (towards Walnut Creek). Take the 13 South exit from 24 and then the Redwood Road exit. Once on Redwood Road, go east (uphill). At the top of the hill you will cross Skyline Boulevard and then pass various equestrian facilities. Go down into the valley. About two miles from Skyline Boulevard, turn left into Redwood Regional Park, following the entrance road to the end to the parking lot. Walk takes place rain or shine.
Sunday, February 13, 9:30 am, Mount Olympia at Mount Diablo State Park. Gregg Weber will return to the canyons above Clayton to see many late winter flowers, with possible performances by sun, sky and clouds. Winter blooms to look for include two species of manzanita, violas, Nemophila, and some early tidy tips and Mt. Diablo jewelflower. This is a strenuous walk with a 2300 foot elevation gain on the way out, and all downhill on the return trip. The round trip distance is about 6 miles, so the trip will take 6-7 hours. Bring lunch and water, and be prepared for a wide range of temperatures. The trip will proceed despite official predictions of rain, and we will decide on the day of the trip if the weather is sufficiently inclement before postponement. If there is a heavy rain the trip will take place on February 20 at the same time.
Directions: Take 24 or 680 to Ignacio Valley Road. Continue on Ignacio Valley Road into the city of Clayton, where you turn right onto Clayton Road. Take Clayton Road past the first intersection with Marsh Creek Road; in about a mile, it becomes Marsh Creek Road. Continue straight on Marsh Creek Road and turn right onto Regency Drive. Go three blocks on Regency Drive, turn left onto Rialto Drive and follow it to the end. Regency Drive also ends at a trailhead, but that is for a different trail; be sure to turn left onto Rialto. Meet the group at the end of Rialto.
Sunday, January 2, 2011, 2:00 pm: Field Trip to Huddart County Park to see Fetid Adder’s Tongue
Location: Huddart County Park, 1100 Kings Mountain Road, Woodside (San Mateo County) California. Meet in the parking lot just past the pay station.
David Margolies (510-654-0283, 510-393-1858 (cell) email@example.com) will lead a hike on the Crystal Springs Trail where Scoliopus bigelovii (fetid adder’s tongue, Liliaceae) blooms in early January. (In most locations outside botanical gardens, it blooms in late January or early February.) This is a gentle trail, losing about 200 feet over about 1/2 mile to the creek. We will walk to the creek and then return the same way. It is unlikely that there will be any other flowers out this early, but the fetid adder’s tongue’s presence tells us that the new flower season has started. (Other plants out of flower will also be identified.) The area is second growth redwood and mixed evergreen forest.
How to get there: Go to Woodside: cross the Bay Bridge, get on I-280 south and take it to the 84 west/Woodside Road exit. Go west through the town of Woodside. Soon after the main part of the town, take a right onto Kings Mountain Road. The park entrance is on the right after a few miles. Go past the pay station into the main parking lot. We will meet there. Note that you must pay the parking fee even if the station is not staffed (use the envelopes provided). Note: There is poison oak in the park. Poison oak is dangerous even when it has no leaves. Stay on the trail. It will probably be muddy and may be raining. Be prepared. The walk will take place rain or shine.
Friday November 26, 2010, 10 am: Field Trip to Dry Creek Pioneer Regional Park (Union City/south Hayward area)
Join Janet Gawthrop on Buy Nothing Day (except maybe mass transit fare) for this moderate hike up to Tolman Peak. This trip will take in the oaks and riparian trees in fruit along Dry Creek, and then proceed uphill to Tolman Peak. There is a population of hairy milkweeds at the summit. If you would like a plant list for the park, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Bring water, lunch, and your well-behaved stock dog for this trip ending in mid-to-late afternoon. Heavy rain cancels this trip (we can reschedule for the same weekend if I receive at least 5 advance e-mails expressing interest).
Directions: Drivers should take the Whipple Ave. exit from 880, and proceed east on Whipple Road to its end at the intersection with Mission Blvd. Cross Mission Blvd and jog south slightly to May Road, and follow May Road to its end at the park entrance. You may park inside the park ($5.00 if kiosk is attended) or on the streets.
Mass transit riders from the north should take BART to the South Hayward station, and take the #99 AC Transit bus from its terminus in the station parking lot (fare $1.75 with BART transfer). Proceed south on Mission Blvd and exit the bus at the intersection of May and Mission Blvd. Walk into the park by following May Road to the park entrance, less than 1/2 mile. (Disregard the instructions for #21 line on the Regional Parks website--AC Transit renumbered this route, which has all the same stops under the new route number).
Larry, John Game, and Jeff Greenhouse have a chance encounter in the wilderness. Photo by Delia Taylor.
Larry Abers, EB chapter activist and plant photographer familiar to many of us from wonderful field trips, workshops, lectures and other activities, died on the evening of July 30th while he was camping at Tuolumne Meadows at the beginning of the Jepson Herbarium Alpine Botany Workshop in Yosemite. Those with him at the time said that he was relaxed and in good spirits until he suddenly lost consciousness from an apparent heart attack and could not be revived.
I had known Larry for some time, especially through Jepson workshops, which he attended once or twice a year, accompanied recently by his companion Britt Thorsnes. We shared a strong interest in photography, and he was always very helpful, encouraging, and friendly. I remember him particularly from San Miguel Island, where the plants were so good that I ran out of film. He provided a spare roll and shared his top-of-the line lenses. Larry liked to visit Anza Borrego in the spring of most years, and this year he encountered our CNPS group by chance in Borrego Palm Canyon. He had found an unusual penstemon that most of us had never seen, and obligingly retraced his steps to show it to the group (see Delia Taylor’s photograph). Later, I talked more about penstemons with Larry on the excellent San Jacinto Mountains workshop in May. Early in July, Larry came to Berkeley and we visited the herbarium to talk at length with others about plant locations in Oregon, where Larry was going to look for rare Calochortus species. The genus was always a favorite with Larry, me and others in our loop, and he would, as always, share his enthusiasm and information about it. We had talked of going to Oregon together one day, but sadly it wasn’t to be. His knowledge, warmth, companionship and generosity will be missed by many.
He was a long-time boy scout troop leader and took the boys out on many outdoor and nature outings, including rafting on the Klamath River. He was also a dedicated desert rat and arranged his schedule most years so he could spend as much of the spring in various southern deserts as possible, much of it on his own.
It was when he gave his first lecture/slide show at the Botanic Garden earlier this decade that I realized he not only took great photos of the flora, but also was a wonderful all-around nature photographer with fabulous shots of birds, mammals, reptiles/amphibians, insects, landscapes, etc. In addition, he shared wonderful stories of his experiences as he roamed the natural world. I always looked forward to his annual slide show at the Garden.
I was lucky to have been friends with both Larry and his girlfriend Britt Thorsnes separately before they “found” each other and fell in love, and so feel fortunate that I witnessed that wonderful relationship from its beginnings. They went on so many terrific nature explorations during their years together, including participating in several Jepson Herbarium workshops.
More recently, this past year Larry led two field trips for our chapter for the first time, helped the Regional Parks botanist monitor rare plant populations, and volunteered regularly with Britt to get the Bay Leaf mailing out on time; they have been volunteering at the plant fair each fall as well. Also, this spring he confirmed Britt’s rediscovery of a fairly large population of the rare Oakland star tulip, Calochortus umbellatus, (not reported since the 1960’s) on or adjacent to EBMUD land near Wildcat Canyon Road. I am glad to have seen Larry grow through the years in his relationship with and contribution to native plants through both our chapter of CNPS and the Regional Parks Botanic Garden. We will miss him..