Field Trips

CNPS- Yerba Buena Natural History Walks:

We have a bountiful bevy of entertaining and informative walks coming in 2019!

All are welcome (some trips you need to register for but most you don't). We're out there...get out there with us!



*February 16, 2019 SATURDAY 10 am – 12:30 pm

Hazelnut Trail field trip San Pedro Valley County Park

Leader: Jake Sigg

*Jake needs a ride, can you help?

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 natives, 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.

Therefore, we must restrict the number of people to 15.  First come first served; reserve at


Saturday Feb 23rd, from 3 pm to 4:30 pm

Montara Mountain Hike

Leader: Susie Bennett

Enjoy a hike at the top of beautiful Montara Mountain lead by the wonderful bay area Biologist, Susie Bennett.  We will also journey through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's Rancho Corral de Tierra.  This will be a leisurely hike to explore a few short trails and get a better understanding of the unique natural resources on our captivating coastside!  Please prepare for the fog and potential drizzle!  Bring layers, water, close-toed shoes that can tolerate puddles and have good grip, as well as rain gear just in case.  Heavy rain cancels.  Please RSVP to Susie Bennett.  We will cap the attendees to 25 people.  Interested parties may also join for a restoration volunteer program in the morning if the Government has been fully funded. Request more details from Susie in your RSVP.

Contact or by phone at 770 630-8198

Meeting place: Available upon RSVP


March 3, 2019 SUNDAY 10am-1pm

Sign Hill and Friends of Liberty Park walk

Leaders Chuck and Loretta Heimstadt

Join Chuck and Loretta for a leisurely walk up and down the beautiful yet sometimes steep trails and vistas of Sign Hill.   We should see many wildflowers, especially the lovely flowers of the host plant for the endangered Mission Blue butterfly, the silver bush lupine, as well as the coast iris, the adopted flower of city of South San Francisco, and others.  The portion of Sign Hill included in the city is park is protected as is the brand new Friends of Liberty Park, but much of this precious open space is still in private ownership and vulnerable to development, come see this treasure and appreciate its wide and open views.

Space is limited for this event.  Please email: to reserve your spot and to receive the meeting place which is still in question and may be on the other side of the mountain as we will also be covering the newly acquired Friends of Liberty Park.  Bring water, camera and please wear sturdy shoes, dressing in layers with long pants.  We ask that pets be left at home, and these trails are often too difficult for very young children.


March 24, 2019 SUNDAY 10 am to 12 noon.

Bayview Hill in Springtime

Leader: Margo Bors

Margo Bors is an artist, photographer and naturalist whose main interest is local native plants.  She has been hiking and doing volunteer habitat restoration on Bayview Hill for many years.  She has seen some remarkable changes both on the Hill and in areas surrounding the Hill and will have some interesting pictures and stories to share.

The walk up Key Ave. is steep, but we will take our time and enjoy the native plants and views.  The upper area is fairly level with fascinating plants, birds and geology, and unobstructed views in every direction.

Bring a snack and water and wear layers as temperatures can vary greatly in different areas.  There are no bathroom facilities.

Meeting Place: Key Ave. entrance to Bayview Park, two blocks east of 3rd St.

Transportation: Short walk from MUNI T-Line station at Le Conte & 3rd St.

Contact: Margo Bors,, phone 415-824-0471, c. 415-794-0283


MARCH 30, SATURDAY, 10am- 1pm

San Bruno Mountain: Owl Canyon

Leader: Doug Allshouse

Owl Canyon is my favorite spot on the eastern flank of San Bruno Mountain. It is not as heavily forested as the adjacent Buckeye Canyon and is a bit more diverse with wildflowers. Owl has a pronounced central hump between each ridge line that makes the ascent up the canyon interesting and it still shows signs of the 2008 wildfire. Many oaks, bays, toyons, hazelnuts, ocean sprays, holly-leaved cherries, coffee berries and oso berries have stump-sprouted and eleven years later prove how adaptable they are to fire. The fire-reliant blue blossom seeds in the soil have created large thick communities on the canyon walls. Wildflowers to look for are larkspur, star lily, hound’s tongue, paintbrush, yerba santa, lupine, johnny jump-up, blue-eyed grass, clematis and many ferns. We’ll have lunch on the flowering grassland ridge between Owl and Buckeye and hopefully see some colonies of blennosperma on the way down the ridge. Heavy rain cancels. Our meeting place is an industrial parking lot just below Owl Canyon.

From Bayshore Blvd. in Brisbane turn onto Valley Drive, proceed to the traffic light and turn left onto South Hill Drive. Turn left at the Aircraft Technical Publishers (ATP) sign at 101-111 South Hill. Drive to the rear of the parking lot.

Call or text at 415-269-9967 or email if you have questions.


April 20, SATURDAY 10am- 2pm

San Bruno Mountain: Summit Trail

Leader: Doug Allshouse

The Summit Trail is a very popular and spectacular 3-mile loop that stretches over the northern portion of the mountain and is the most species-rich trail. It passes through a logged eucalyptus forest and descends past active seeps until it reaches April Brook. We’ll see horsetails, fringe cups, iris, coast rock cress, and at least five ferns. From there we head up to Bitter Cherry Ridge with rocky outcrops covered with fog lichens and views of the ocean and the Daly City dunes. If we have time we’ll check out Kamchatka Point and some endemic manzanitas and huckleberries then descend to the parking lot through Cable Ravine. Elevation gain on the trail is about 700 feet. There is a $6 entrance fee (cash, credit/debit card) payable at the pay station.

Meet at the parking lot on the other side of Guadalupe Canyon Parkway by turning right at the stop sign just past the kiosk/pay station and follow the road under the parkway. Bring a lunch and layers of clothing because, due to the marine influence, the weather is a box of chocolates; you never know what to expect.

Heavy rain cancels. Contact Doug at, or call/text 415-269-9967 if you have questions.


May 4, SATURDAY 11am- 1pm

Sign Hill - Butterflies and Wildflowers, oh my!

(What's not to love about this one? 🙂

Leaders: Liam O'Brien, Loretta Brooks and Chuck Heimstadt

We will walk at a leisurely pace, but due to the uneven ground and steep trails, we recommend wearing sturdy shoes and long pants.  Meet Saturday morning (11am) at Sign Hill's west entrance:  from Oyster Point off 101, go west on Hillside/Sister Cities Blvd., turning off Hillside to Stonegate Drive and continue uphill to the left to Ridgeview Court with the cross street Carnelian at the end. There is a small parking lot there and street parking on the way up, and if necessary the Elks lot may be used for this short time.  You may consider carpooling with friends.  A forecast of wind or rain cancels until the next Saturday, May 11th.  Please leave pets at home for this walk.

No need to sign up but please contact  ""  with any questions.

Liam O'Brien is San Francisco's well-known lepidopterist, artist, illustrator, and Bay Nature's award-winning environmental educator.

Loretta Brooks and Chuck Heimstadt live on the edge of Sign Hill and have become its ardent stewards, and participants will benefit from their collective knowledge and enthusiasm.

We expect to see plenty of wildflowers with beautiful vistas, not to mention butterflies.  A large portion of this grassland is protected with Sign Hill Park and the recently donated and acquired Friends of Liberty Park, but the other 26 acres, equally worthy of preservation, are privately owned and vulnerable to development.