Leader: Jake Sigg
The Hazelnut Trail on Montara Mountain offers probably more diversity than any other area around here. A reason for that may be because it contains a rich mix of inland and maritime chaparral in the process of replacing a diverse grassland. In the absence of frequent burning practiced by the indigenous people, woody plants displace the grasses and wildflowers, and you can see that process happening here. We start out from the Visitor’s Center and cross the creek coming down from Brook Falls, cross a thriving riparian woodland, loaded with lush vegetation, then our ascent brings us to a couple of grasslands which will have a few early blooming wildflowers. At this time of year the glory of this trail is the woody plants, and February is the perfect time to visit. Subtlety and restraint—the Japanese term shibui—characterize it. Sage greens, grays, soft browns, blue-greens, copper and an infinity of other hues and textures dominate. Most of the shrubs are still awakening from summer-autumn dormancy. Lichens are a trip and plentiful. Manzanitas and pink currants may be in full bloom. Hazelnuts ditto; pendent male catkins are abundant, and the sharp-eyed may spot red female flowers hiding in the axils of the branchlets—tiny but showy when you focus on them. A favorite—and locally rare—is the chinquapin, a close relative of the chestnut. The underside of its leaves are covered by a rich golden tomentum; in the right light conditions it fills the area with a warm golden glow. This area is remarkably intact in terms of native species. However, building a trail is like opening a wound, where the land is exposed to infection. The only invasive weeds we will see are along this trail. But the trail also allows the wildflowers to persist, so there is much to see continually. This is a single-track trail, so not always possible to keep everyone within earshot. Our policy is “rain or shine, but heavy rain cancels.” If the weather is uncertain on the morning of Feb 29, call to confirm 415-731-3028.
We will limit the number of people to 15. First come first served; reserve at firstname.lastname@example.org