Rancho Cañada del Oro and South Bay Wildflower Report
On Sunday I headed down to Rancho Cañada del Oro south of San Jose to get in a nice 13 mile hike and check out the wildflowers. Although it’s been a dry winter I was hoping that a little recent rain would help nudge the wildflowers along. They are out, but it is a disappointing season in both quantity and quality. I found a nice variety but they were few and far between. The most common wildflowers I saw were milk maids, Indian Warrior, Hounds Tongue, and shooting stars. A surprising crop of star lily kept me entertained, and it looks like the poppies are about to come in. It is by no means a bumper crop this year, but I do really love local spring hikes when there are wildflowers lining the trail.
Rancho Cañada del Oro is a quiet Open Space next to Calero reservoir (County Park) that is easily accessible from San Jose. Despite being so close to the country’s 8th largest city, it is easy to find solitude there. Only four cars were in the parking lot when I arrived at 9 am on a Sunday, three of which belonged to the same group. I quickly left them behind, and during my 13 miles I only saw three other hikers and one group of three courteous mountain bikers.
The highlight of the hike is Bald Peaks, from which you can take in the view of rolling green hills and mountains or the bustling Silicon Valley (depending on what suits you). On a clear day the top of one of the pillars of the Golden Gate bridge is visible to the north, at least if you have a good zoom lens on your camera.
The trails in this park are all well groomed and graded, making it easy to avoid poison oak, equestrians, and mountain bikers. Short hikes are possible, and my 13 mile loop (mapped below) is nearly the largest loop you can make by connecting with trails in Calero.