Date: May 9, 2016
Place: China Camp State Park
Coordinates: 38.007257, -122.487475
Length: 2 miles
Leading a 4H project is one of the better ways to get involved in one's community. Leading the Redwood 4H Hiking Project for the last few years had been a very rewarding experience for me on many levels. One of them was the constant lookout for new places to hike in the Bay Area.
One of my recent discoveries was China Camp State Park at San Rafael.
On the later half of the 19th century the place used to be a camp for Chinese workers. Now it is a California State Park with protected bay wetlands and beautiful oak forest hills. It is also a very popular place for area residents for hiking, jogging, biking, and boating.
I went there in mid-May to check out a hiking trail for the 4H Hiking Project that I lead. It was a nice day, not to warm, a bit windy even. And it was shortly after the area had been blessed by rains. There were very few people in the park. I stopped at the visitor center first, found it closed, then picked up a brochure from the nearby kiosk and drove off to my trailhead choic.
|Bullet Hill Trailhead|
|Common Flax, Linum usitatissimum Non-native|
|Hairy Vetch, Vicia villosa Non-native|
|Owl's Clover, Castilleja exerta|
The butterfly didn't mind sticking around for a few seconds to pose for me.
As first the trail was flat, but as I was getting further from the road it started sloping up the hill. The slope facing the bay and the low wetlands were grassy dotted with few oaks and some bushes. One of them was familiar to me from urban landscapes, although in its old world origin it is usually a wild plant.
|Hairy Rockrose, Cistus incanus, Non-native|
|Bullet Hill Wetland|
Nearing the road the trail emerged from the woods and once again I was walking through open grasslands. I was trying to go a bit faster - there was more grounds I wanted to cover before leaving the park. Soon, however, I got distracted again - this time by some lovely larkspur plants that were blooming by the trail, so pale and so well embedded in the dry grass that I had nearly passed them by.
|Foothill Larkspur, Delphinium hesperian ssp. pallescens|
|Salt marsh at China Camp State Park|
|Turtleback Hill Trail|
|California Milkwort, Polygala californica|
I didn't linger there to explore further - I didn't want to bother her.
The soft, gravel road shoulder had a few little weeds growing on it. Among them were few small morning glory plants that despite them being in full bloom I nearly stepped on them - they blended so well with the gravel.
|Himalayan Blackberry, Rubus armeniacus|
|California Wildrose, Rosa californica|
|Rough Hedgenettle, Stachys rigida|
|Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium bellum|
|Acorn Woodpecker, male|
The thin forest undergrowth had a few wildflowers, including this common tarweed. I love their pretty blossom, but I selected this photo as it shows the resinous follicles that cover the green parts of the plant, and which gave it its name.
|Grassy Tarweed, Media gracilis|
|Common Pacific Pea, Lathyrus vestitus|
|Blue-belly, Fence Lizard|