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Wild mustard blanketing the Berkeley Hills.
 Liam O'Donoghue via Twitter
Wild mustard blanketing the Berkeley Hills.  (Liam O'Donoghue via Twitter)

Where to See a 'Super Bloom' in the Bay Area

Where to See a 'Super Bloom' in the Bay Area

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Update, April 24, 2023: Found this story and looking for more up-to-date recommendations on where to spot a “super bloom” of wildflowers in the Bay Area?

Read our latest guides:

Original story: Traffic jams. Trampled flowers. “Disneyland size crowds.”

The recent wildflower “super blooms” in Southern California — and the legions of selfie-hungry Instagrammers they’ve attracted — have caused the kind of stir not usually associated with botanical events.

A super bloom of wild poppies blankets the hills of Walker Canyon on March 12, 2019, near Lake Elsinore, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Yes, the term “super bloom” is most commonly used to refer to the spectacular explosions of native wildflowers that spring up in desert areas like the Mojave Desert. But according to Modern Hiker, the phrase is actually a recent invention, made up in the last few years to mean “a bunch of flowers.” So why not thumb your nose at our SoCal cousins and their traffic jams by visiting one of these colorfully floral Bay Area spots below — to catch a sort-of-super bloom of your own?


Bear in mind that according to Visit California’s 2019 Super Bloom guide, the Bay Area’s peak wildflower season is a little later than Southern California’s (late April to mid-June). So, several of these spots below won’t actually be blooming yet, and when they do, the saturation can really vary from year to year.

What’s more, a lot of the Bay Area’s blooming hillsides — as shown in the photos submitted by readers below — are actually due to invasive species like wild mustard, not native wildflowers.  Vibrant (and Instagrammable) riots of color they may be, but the proliferation of these flowering plants is actually one of the reasons the Bay doesn’t get true “super blooms” of native wildflowers.

Lastly, remember: If you’re visiting these spots to capture their beauty for social media prestige, stick to marked trails to take your shots, and definitely don’t pick any flowers. (As well as damaging the landscape, you could also get a ticket.)

North Bay: Point Reyes National Seashore

A colorful floral carpet spotted on the Chimney Rock Trail in Pt Reyes
A colorful floral carpet spotted on the Chimney Rock Trail in Pt Reyes (christy_nana on Instagram)

As if you needed more excuses to visit Point Reyes National Seashore, in springtime several of its trails are exploding with color. The 1.75-mile Chimney Rock trail boasts poppies, owl’s clover, tidy tips, checkerbloom, paintbrush, Douglas iris and footsteps-of-spring, plus incredible oceans views. A short drive away, a visit to Abotts Lagoon (at the right time of year) also offers a seasonal blanket of golden poppies.

East Bay: Berkeley Hills

Rosemary and French Broom -- both invasive species -- in the Berkeley Hills
Rosemary and French Broom — both invasive species — in the Berkeley Hills (Liam O'Donoghue via Twitter)

Yes, the East Bay is a veritable goldmine of springtime blooms. But on a clear day the Berkeley Hills also present the added bonus of stunning vistas across the Bay, as well as those wildflower carpets. Check out the East Bay Regional Park District’s handy guide to favored spots for inspiration.

San Francisco: Mount Davidson Park

Wildflowers atop Mount Davidson, San Francisco (@TheRealWBTC via Twitter)

At 938 feet, Mount Davidson is the highest point in San Francisco. Most Bay Area residents know it best for the iconic 103-foot concrete cross at its summit, but in springtime the grassland on its east side plays home to a range of native wildflowers blooms, including California poppy, blue-eyed grass, hog fennel, checkerbloom and mule’s ears.

South Bay: Russian Ridge Preserve, Santa Cruz Mountains

A flowering meadow in Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve (Steve Jurvetson / Wikimedia Commons)

As the air turns warmer, much of this 3000+ acre preserve on the Peninsula becomes a riot of color, thanks to its native wildflowers: from poppies and lupine to gumweed, mules ear and brodiaea. And if you go a little too early for the flowers, at least you’ll be rewarded with amazing coastal views. (If Karl the Fog doesn’t decide to accompany you.)

Did we miss any beautiful blooming spots in the Bay Area? Tweet @kqednews — we’d love to feature your shots.

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