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March 29, 2005 > Wildflowers, Wine and Riding the Rails

Wildflowers, Wine and Riding the Rails

Wine tasting & Wildflower Trains

by Linda Stone

The recent heavy rains have assured a bountiful burst of wildflowers to carpet the hills and valleys throughout the Bay Area signifying the arrival of spring. Many people are celebrating by taking wildflower walks at the East Bay Regional Park or riding the rails on Niles Canyon Railway's Wildflower Train.

This year, the Railway is offering wine tasting from area wineries on selected trains for their "A Toast to Spring," a tour of the route ablaze with colors using the No. 1423, a 123 ton, 1000 horsepower Diesel-Electric engine built by Southern Pacific in 1949 which was restored to original S.P. Tiger Stripe paint scheme and number. Fresh fields of mustard flowers, Lupin, California Poppies, Rosemary, wild Almond and other flora will be visible on the one-hour ride.

Riders will be able to walk through the train to sample premium wines each Sunday from April 2 to May 22.

The No. 2 Quincy will run concurrently with the wine train at alternating times. The Quincy is a 59.8-ton steam locomotive built in 1924 by the Quincy Railroad Company.

A docent will give an interpretive tour on the train's origins and history of the canyon.
People can also bring food on board.

The Pacific Locomotive Association maintains and operates the Niles Canyon Railway and is a non-profit corporation run by volunteers.

"All train equipment has historical roots," said Hugh Tebault of the Pacific Locomotive Association (PLA). The train tracks are part of the original transcontinental rail line.

The PLA continues to work with the city of Fremont and the Niles District to complete a passenger-loading platform in Niles. Discussions include using a vintage bus to ferry people to downtown Niles, said Tebault.

Plans are underway on a comprehensive train museum. The group is currently re-cataloging the trains which will ultimately be available for public display. "The long-term goal is to place a physical museum in Niles," said Tebault.

A Toast to Spring
Sunol Depot
6 Kilkare Road, Sunol
12:00, 1:30, & 3:00 p.m.

April 3 - Westover Vineyards
April 10 - Murrieta's Well Winery
April 17 - Little Valley Vineyard
April 24 - Elliston Vineyards
May 1 - Wente Vineyards
May 15 - Fenestra Vineyards
May 22 - Chouinard Vineyards

For more information on the Wildflower Trains call 925) 862-9063 or visit

Wildflower Walk

The East Bay Regional Park District is home to over 150 different species of wildflowers and people can enjoy taking guided wildflower walks in Sunol.

On Wednesday April 6, join Naturalists Chris Garcia and Sara Fetterly on a wildflower walk to look for spring wildflowers on the hills of this wilderness park. It is a somewhat strenuous three-mile hike to Little Yosemite, a spectacular section of Alameda Creek. Call (925) 862-2601 for directions and more information.

Wildflower Festival

The Spring Wildflower Festival is a not to miss event, also at the East Bay Regional Park in Sunol on Saturday, April 9. Join Naturalist Cat Taylor on a wildflower hike, view colorful slideshows, make a craft or two, play nature games and learn about the diversity and complexity of the blooms around the park.

For more information on the East Bay Regional Park visit

Wildflower Walk
Wednesday, April 6
9:30 a.m.
Walk at Sunol Regional Wilderness
Southeast end of Geary Road, Sunol, CA
Call (925) 862-2601 for directions and more information.

Spring Wildflower Festival
Saturday, April 9
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Sunol Regional Wilderness Park
Southeast end of Geary Road, Sunol, CA
Call (925) 862-2601 for more information and a festival schedule.

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