Coyote Ridge

SCCOSA: Coyote Ridge

Coyote Ridge Wildflowers, 4/13/08

Coyote Ridge Wildflowers, 4/18/10

Coyote Ridge, 4/18/10 (Facebook)

Coyote Ridge, April 17, 2011 (Facebook Album)

Coyote Ridge Wildflower Walk 4/13/14

Coyote Ridge Docents Hike 3/1/15 (Facebook)

Silicon Valley Land Conservancy

Light of Morn: Coyote Ridge

Light of Morn: Coyote Springs Wildflowers

Coyote Ridge Serpentine Grasslands Field Trip

Parks, Trails, & Open Space

Open Space Authority of Santa Clara Valley

Friends of Santa Teresa Park

Santa Teresa Park

Coyote Creek Trail

Santa Clara County Parks

New Almaden Quicksilver County Park Association

Mid-Peninsula Open Space District

East Bay Regional Park District

Henry Coe State Park

Bay Area Ridge Trail

Bay Area Parks

Bay Area Back Pages SF Bay Rec & Travel

Hikes at Open Space Authority Preserves

Blair Ranch Hike, 5/9/09

Blair Ranch Hike 3/28/10

Doan Ranch 11/22/08 Page 1, Page 2

Palassou Ridge 6/6/09

Rancho Canada Del Oro Hike, 5/16/09

Rancho Canada Del Oro Hike, Mayfair Ranch Trail, 3/14/10

Rancho Canada Del Oro, Mayfair Ranch 1/18/14 (Facebook)

Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve Hike, Boccardo Loop Trail, 8/14/10

Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve Trail Dedication, 10/22/11

Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve Hike, 11/23/12 (Facebook)

Ulistac Natural Area, 1/12/14, Santa Clara (Facebook)

Rancho Canada Del Oro, Mayfair Ranch 1/18/14 (Facebook)

Sierra Vista Staging Area Dedication 8/23/14

Aquila Trail Opening 8/23/14

Docent Preview of the Melchor Ranch, 10/28/14

Public Preview Hikes on the Melchor Ranch, 11/1/14

Birding Hike in the Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve 11/8/14

Facebook: Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve Aquila Trail Winter Hike, 2/16/15

Facebook: Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve Sierra Vista Trail Winter Hike, 2/16/15

Facebook: Rancho Canada de Oro Docents Hike, 2/21/15

Facebook: Nesting Knowledge: Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, 4/4/15

Facebook: Doan Ranch Satellite and 3D Maps

Facebook: Doan Ranch Tour, 4/12/15

Bay Nature Hike in the Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve, 4/19/15

Facebook: Sunset & Moonrise at the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve, 5/3/15

Hikes and Trails at Santa Clara County Parks

Pictures of the Santa Clara County Parks

Santa Teresa County Park Trail pictures

Almaden Quicksilver County Park pictures

Other Santa Clara County Parks

Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District

Woods Trail Wildflowers, Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve 5/14/11 and 5/21/11

Mt. Umunhum, September 24, 2011 (Facebook)

Ron Horii's Outdoor Photography Pages:

Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photo Gallery

HDR Experiments,
Part 2


California Native Plant Society, Santa Clara Valley

Santa Teresa Park Wildflowers, Spring 2002

Santa Teresa Park Wildflowers, 4/11/08

Almaden Quicksilver Wildflowers and Views, Spring 2008

Wildflowers of Almaden Quicksilver County Park

Bay Area Hiker: Wildflowers

Henry Coe Park Wildflowers

California Academy of Sciences: California Wildflowers

Western Wildflowers: Wildflower Trails of the San Francisco Bay Area

Facebook: Hunt for Wildflowers and Butterflies in Santa Teresa Park 4/2/15

Facebook: Santa Teresa Park Wildflowers, 4/25/15

Nature, Environment, Conservation, Land Use

Creekside Center for Earth Observation

Coyote Valley Specific Plan

Conservation in Action: The Checkerspot Comes Home

Cows Come to Rescue of Butterflies

Critical Habitat Designated for Threatened Butterfly

Coyote Valley: Another Drive-by Extinction?

Valuable Environmental Lesson Taught by Checkerspot Butterfly

Threatened butterfly habitat preserved in Santa Clara County

Friends of Edgewood: Bay Checkerspot Butterfly

Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly

Committee for Green Foothills

Bay checkerspot butterfly life cycle

Bay checkerspot butterfly food sources

Rare Species of Santa Clara Valley

Rare Animal Species of Coyote Ridge

EPA Endangered Species Facts: Bay Checkerspot Butterfly

USFWS Species Profile: Bay Checkerspot butterfly

Center for Biological Diversity: Saving the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly

Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan: Species Protection

Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan: Santa Clara Valley Dudleya

CNPS Fremontia Magazine articles on Serpentine (pgs 28-28)

Coyote Ridge Wildflower Walk, 3/15/15

Bay checkerspot butterfly with goldfields and creamcups

That colorful little butterfly above is the Bay Checkerspot butterfly, a federally-listed threatened species, protected by the Endangered Species Act. The butterfly used to be found all over the Bay area, but has nearly vanished due to habitat loss. Most of the habitat loss has been due to development. One of the last refuges of the butterfly is Coyote Ridge, located above the Kirby Canyon Landfill. Coyote Ridge has more Bay Checkerspot butterflies than anywhere else in the world.

Besides the Bay checkerspot butterflies, Coyote Ridge is known for its spectacular wildflower displays. The reason it has so many wildflowers is because it has huge amounts of serpentine rocks. Serpentine is a metamorphic rock that is squeezed up from deep within the earth along earthquake faults. Coyote Ridge is adjacent to the Calaveras Fault. Serpentine rocks form soils that have a mineral content that makes them inhospitable to non-native grasses, but native plants have adapted to it. In non-serpentine soils, non-native grasses often crowd out native plants. In serpentine soils, native grasses have the advantage. However, automobile exhaust, which contains nitrogen compounds, fertilize the soil, allowing non-natives to grow. To control this, cattle are used to graze down those grasses, giving the advantage back to the natives. Limited and managed cattle grazing is used on Coyote Ridge.

Coyote ridge is normally closed to the public, but docent-led guided tours are conducted in the spring by the Open Space Authority of Santa Clara Valley (OSA), which doesn't own, but manages the land. 548 acres on Coyote Ridge are owned by the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). VTA purchased the land as mitigation for highway projects in the area.  The OSA manages the land to protect the rare and endangered species found there. They offer public hikes in the springtime when the wildflowers are at their peak. They follow old mine roads up to the top of the ridge. The timing of the wildflower season varies from year-to-year, depending on the rain and temperatures. In previous years, it peaked in mid-April. This year, it was a month early, peaking in March. This season, there were heavy rains in December, but January and February were unusually dry and warm. There was a docent's preview hike on Coyote Ridge on 3/1/15, which showed the wildflowers were just starting to come out. This hike in mid-March shows the wildflowers just about at their peak. There were more out than in the previous year's hike on April 13, 2014.

Teri Rogoway, Educational Programs Coordinator for the OSA greets the crowd.

There was a large group of visitors, as well as several docents.

Bee plant

Lots of white popcornflowers on the hills

The start of the walk follows along a fence above the Coyote Creek Golf Course.

White bluedicks

Pink jeweled onions among the popcornflowers.

  Band of yellow fiddlenecks.

Closeup of the fiddlenecks

We stop to look at a little creek.

Docent Rick Mandel points out some of the plants along the creek. The bush to the left is a coffeeberry.

This is a rare plant, the native Mt. Hamilton thistle. It only grows along creeks and seeps in serpentine areas.

Up on the hill are purple owl's clover, mixed in with the popcornflowers.

The route climbs up the hill on an old mine road. This is the view looking down across the popcornflower-covered hillside at the Coyote Creek Golf Course.

We see our first Bay checkerspot butterfly.

We leave the old mine road and go across the grass-covered hill. The grass is short because of cattle-grazing.

The small white and yellow flowers are douglas' microseris. They produce puffy seedheads called silverpuffs.

We climb up the hillside, looking at the wide variety of wildflowers along the way.

There are lots of yellow flowers, along with patches of owl's clover on the hillside.

The yellow flowers are agoseris, also called mountain dandelion.

Looking across the popcornflower-covered hillside at the Coyote Creek Golf Course below. On the right in the distance is Coyote Peak in Santa Teresa Park.

The cactus-like plants growing on the rocks are one of the most important plants in Santa Clara County. They are Santa Clara Valley dudleya, a federally-protected endangered species. They are a type of stonecrop and only grow on serpentine rocks like this, primarily in the hills of the Coyote Valley.

The small yellow flowers are goldfields.

We approach an old magnesite mining site. The way is paved with goldfields.

There is a mixture of goldfields, purple serpentine linanthus, and popcornflowers.

Part of the group looks at the old mining pit.

This is the magnesite mine pit. Magnesite was mined here during the world wars to provide magnesium for the war effort.

Closeup of serpentine linanthus and popcornflowers.

The group hikes up the hill above the mine pit.

Closeup of creamcups.

Agoseris with serpentine linanthus and goldfields.

Creamcups and poppies

Here is a pair of Bay checkerspot butterflies, with a caterpillar on the right. Besides the goldfields and popcornflowers, there are tiny pale while flowers with brown spots. These are dwarf plantain, the primary food source for Bay checkerspot butterfly larvae. The presence of large numbers of dwarf plantain is the reason for the thriving population of Bay checkerspots on Coyote Ridge. Because the plantain are so small, they are easily crowded out by non-native grasses, which is why the control of the grasses by cattle grazing is so important.

The purple and white flowers with dark centers are birdseye gilia.

There's a wide variety of wildflowers here.

Purple sanicle

Ahead, the group assembles to prepare for the steep ascent to the ridgetop, following an old mine road, seen going straight up the hill on the right.

We follow the old mine road, which has goldfields growing on it. It's been dubbed "the Yellow Brick Road."

We begin the steep climb up the rocky hillside.

The pink flowers are 4-spot clarkia.

These flat seed pods belong to lomatium.

The yellow flower is a suncup.

Agoseris and popcornflowers.

Finally, we reach the top of the hill, where there are research plots.

Looking across hills at the North Coyote Valley, backed by Santa Teresa County Park's Coyote Peak. Tulare Hill is the lower hill on the right. This part of the valley was the original site for a huge housing and industrial development called the Coyote Valley Specific Plan. The plan was dropped in 2008. The area remains undeveloped, but is not protected from development.

One last easy climb to reach the ridgetop

Ahead is the service road that runs along the spine of the ridge. There is a mixture of serpentine and non-serpentine soils. The serpentine soils have all the wildflowers. The non-serpentine soils are covered with grasses.

The flat spot ahead, covered with goldfields, is our ultimate destination.

This is a view looking southeast, at the edge of the serpentine area.

We head out along this flat hilltop towards an overlook.

This hill behind the flat area is part serpentine. The serpentine area is densely covered with wildflowers, mostly goldfields and owl's clover.

Old ranch roads lead down along the hills and into the valley. Terraces on the hill on the left are the result of cattle walking back and forth along it.

Part of the group heads out to the overlook.

In the distance, the rest of the group catches up.

A Bay checkerspot rests on a goldfield.

The line where the serpentine soil ends can be clearly seen where the wildflowers stop and the grasses begin.

We rest on this hilltop, which provides a panoramic view of the valley and hills to the east.

The valley east of Coyote Ridge is Shingle Valley. Las Animals Creek flows through it and drains into Anderson Reservoir. The ridge above the valley is Pine Ridge in Henry Coe State Park.

This is a view looking along the south part of Coyote Ridge.

This is a view looking north. A large part of the land in the valley belongs to the 28,359-acre San Felipe Ranch. It is owned by the Hewlett and Packard families and is the largest piece of private property in Santa Clara County. It is protected from development by a Nature Conservancy conservation easement. Tule elk can sometimes be seen grazing on the ranch. In the distance, left of center, is Mt. Hamilton and Lick Observatory. Below it to the left is Joseph D. Grant County park. Behind the nearby hills is land that formerly housed the United Technologies rocket plant. A portion of Coyote Ridge above the rocket plant is being purchased by the OSA.

There was a young rattlesnake resting by a rock.

On the hill in the background, the demarcation between serpentine and non-serpentine soils can clearly be seen.

Part of the group poses for a picture with docent Mike.

The group leaves the overlook and prepares to head back downhill.

This is the start of the descent, down another old mine road.

The hills are white with popcornflowers.

Lower down on the hillside are cuts from old magnesite mines.

This marker and rocks indicate a patch of Santa Clara dudleya in the middle of the old road. Since the dudleya can grow on bare rocks, they can grow on rocky roads.

There are dudleya all over this patch on the road.

Below is the magnesite mine pit. In the background behind Hwy 101 is the Coyote Creek Trail running next to ponds that were once rock quarries.

We reach the base of the hill. There's an old road leading to the mine pit.

There's a little valley, providing a drain for water, which forms a creek below.

There's a large leather oak along the tiny creek.

Below in the creekbed are large patches of the rare Mt. Hamilton thistle.

We follow the Yellow Brick Road.

Almost home.

One last descent to the golf course and the end of the hike.

Created by Ronald Horii, 6/12/15