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April 8, 2009 > Spring Wildflower Festival offers bonanza of sights, smells

Spring Wildflower Festival offers bonanza of sights, smells

By Suzanne Ortt
Photos By Courtesy of Andrew Anderson and Carol Pike

Wildflowers are lavish this spring: the cause - sun, earth and intermittent rain. Celebrate the mantle of blooms, butterflies and bees at Sunol Regional Wilderness' 7th annual Spring Wildflower Festival, expected to be one of the best ever.

Sunol's 6,895 acres were rangeland until becoming part of the East Bay Regional Park District in 1962. Cattle still share the acreage with nature lovers, hikers and explorers.

Throughout the day, Sunol naturalists will offer slideshows, exhibits and hikes of varied lengths and interests. They all begin at the Old Green Barn Visitor Center, originally built in 1895 by Maurice Geary, son of the original homesteader, Patrick Geary.

More fun includes a flower dissection and temporary henna tattoos. Local watercolor artist Carolyn Lord will demonstrate plein-air painting. The popular "Extended Roots," a 13-woman acoustic band, entertain with Celtic, bluegrass and/or traditional music from the roots of America.

Attend an outdoor town hall-style meeting with Senator Ellen Corbett (D - San Leandro) at noon and then join her on a ranger-guided wildflower hike from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m. Walk with naturalists and learn to identify fiddleneck, popcorn flower and lupine bush, among the myriad colorful plants. One special flower walk to Little Yosemite waterfalls, a two-mile jaunt upstream, is set for 2 p.m.

Do your own exploring to find sandstone outcroppings with fossils in an ancient seabed. Huge boulders of greenstone, schist and metachert evidence the turbulent past. Little Joe Nature Trail, a self-guided hike, is noteworthy for its massive basalt outcrop.

Fauna is prolific. Bird watching is popular. It is common to spot 20 to 40 species, including yellow-billed magpie, red-tailed hawk, black phoebe, titmouse, and golden eagle. Ground squirrels populate the area. Raccoons, skunks and black-tailed deer are seen occasionally.

Drinking water and food are not available in the park, so bring a picnic lunch and plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. To reach the park from Fremont, take 680 North to Calaveras Road. Turn right on Calaveras and proceed to Geary Road.

Spring Wildflower Festival
Saturday, April 11
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.,
Sunol Regional Wilderness Visitor Center
(510) 544-3240

Free admission, $5 parking

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