In Search of the Super Bloom

There’s been a lot in the news about how this spring California would erupt in a “Super Bloom” – something that only happens when we get a lot of rain after what seems like our constant state of drought. This winter we got a lot of rain. Enough to make several pundits declare the drought over. And pictures began showing up of the deserts erupting in color. I wondered if the Super Bloom effect could be seen closer to the Bay Area. I noticed 7×7, a magazine dedicated to all things San Francisco, had recently published the best spots to see flowers within a drive of San Francisco

Danielle and Eric were interested in seeing the Super Bloom as well, so we rented a car and set out for Henry Coe State Park, a couple of hours south of San Francisco. As we got further and further south, we noticed swaths of color along the highway. “Super Bloom!” we would shout as we spotted them.


Super Bloom along the 101

We marveled at how beautiful the flowers along the highway were, and grew more and more excited about the 3.7 mile hike that would be awash with color. We exited the highway and began the twisty turvy route up to the park entrance. Houses became fewer and farther between and cows a more common site. As Danielle navigated, she proclaimed we were almost there. We slowly rounded the curve and stopped. A line of cars greeted us. We stopped. And waited. There was no movement for a while, so we got out of the car to see what was happening. Basically what was happening was 7×7 had published a best places to see the Super Bloom in the Bay Area article and hundreds had flocked to Henry Coe State Park. The park ranger was letting one car in as one car left. We waited, encouraged to see cars leaving. We were not next, but next next in line to enter the overflow parking lot when it a more senior ranger arrived on the scene. “Sorry, we’re full. No one else can enter the park.”

Oh, man. We looked at each other, not quite believing our luck. We turned around, as the park ranger instructed us, and headed back down the winding road. We stopped at a picnic area beside a lake to have our picnic lunch and discuss Plan B. We were still out of cell range, so we decided once we had service, we would look up another hike in the area and head there. We found ourselves driving up another steep climb, ears popping, cows on either side of us. We pulled into a tiny parking lot in the middle of nowhere and began the loop trail. A landscape of greens of every shade greeted us, a welcome change from the normal golden brown. A chipmunk poked its tiny head out of its burrow. A baby snake slithered across the path. Cows grazed on either side of us. We walked amidst grasses and trees, and only an occasional flower. It was a beautiful hike, despite not offering us the colorful views of flowers we had hoped for.

We left the park, driving back towards the neighborhoods of newly built beige row houses. And there, on the corner, we saw it, our Super Bloom! A carpet of fuchsia, blinding us in the afternoon sun. We pulled over to take pictures, not caring that it was someone’s carefully curated garden and not wildflowers aburst in the fields. We found our Super Bloom!