At the end of the Muir Woods portion of the Dipsea Trail we emerged onto open chaparral hills offering spectacular panoramic views of the coastal shrub habitat, the Pacific Ocean, Stinson Beach and Bolinas Lagoon.
As we slowed to take in the change in habitat we discovered flowers in bloom along the trail banks, sometimes nearly hidden by the dry shrubby plants.
Above, Fremont's Star lilies reaching up from the base of woody coyote brush.Bay Nature website this creamy white star flower is one of the earliest to bloom in the spring and "is found on open summits or in brushy draws".
It was our enjoyment of these spring flowers and preoccupation with identifying sparrows flitting around the base of shrubs that caused us to miss the connecting trail and wander, for a brief time, along the hillside headed westward and away from our destination. Our high position on the chaparral made it easy to see that Stinson Beach was slowly drifting away from us!
Even with the certain realization we were headed the wrong way, we pushed on just a little farther to visit a lone Eucalyptus tree sporting a plank-seated rope swing and Wendy hopped on for a ride.
Despite the fatigue that was settling in on this last mile of our journey, I would not have wanted to miss the Star Lilies or the silvery lupines growing in bushy mounds as we back-tracked along the trail.
As we progressed further, I was delighted to find that some of the lupines were opening their showy blossoms. In no time, these vast coastal scrub hills will be covered with mounds of purple flowers.
Silver Lupine (Lupinus albifrons), white-leafed bush lupine (pronounced lupin) or evergreen lupine is native to California and one of three lupine species that are the crucial food source for the Mission Blue Butterfly. Unfortunately the lupine's toxicity to livestock has caused ranchers to remove it on grazing lands which has contributed to the rapid decline and endangerment of the California endemic Mission Blue Butterfly (Aricia icariodes missioniensis). This butterfly is found in limited areas and depends entirely on three native lupine species that support its life cycle.
The video below discusses the Marin County area, which includes Stinson Beach, and describes the many factors contributing to the butterfly's decline.
Next: The beach at the end of the trail!
Visit this link to see all my posts on Stinson Beach, California
Dipsea Trail hike posts
Coastal chaparral is an ecosystem dominated by woody-stemmed, draught tolerant shrubs
Wendy Pitts Reeves and Wendy's website
Mission Blue Butterfly conservation and life history
More on the Mission Blue Butterfly and Mission Blue Butterfly from Berkeley
The El Segundo Blue Butterfly, another endangered California blue
Star Zigadene lily or Fremont's Star Lily