Outdoors: Quarryhill’s garden is in bloom plus more March hiking

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The first nature walk of the “Essence of the Garden” series at Quarryhill Botanical Garden will be Saturday, March 16, from 10 a.m. to noon. The walk will be led by Quarryhill docent Kathleen Aspenns, a certified flower essence practitioner. She will share the history, lore, botanical knowledge, and the healing gifts of Quarryhill’s wild Asian flora during your stroll in the garden where camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons come to life in early spring. The Essence of the Garden nature walk series continues April 27, June 8, and July 13. For more information and to sign up, go to The fee for each walk is $15 for members and $20 for non-members. Please register in advance.

A guided nature walk will be held on March 16 at Bouverie Preserve, the 535-acre former estate hit hard by the Nunns Fire in 2017. Participants are divided into small groups and paired with a trained Bouverie volunteer to explore the mixed evergreen forest and flower-carpeted oak woodland as they enter their second summer, post-fire. Nature walks begin at 10 a.m. and end at noon, and are no more than 2.5 miles long. Visitors of all ages are welcome. Minors under 18 must be accompanied by their parent or legal guardian. Suggested donation is $20 per person. More at

March 16 also gives spiritually-inclined hikers a chance to practice “forest bathing,” or Shinrin Yoku, at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, as part of its Parks RX program the third Saturday of each month. These walks are led by certified ANFT (Association of Nature and Forest Therapy) practitioners. See for more information about this practice, or meet at the visitors center at 9:30 a.m. Cost is $20, $15 for Sonoma Ecology Center members or park volunteers, free with a prescription from a participating medical provider. Reserve at

More ambitious nature lovers might want to attend the Introduction to Backpacking class at Sugarloaf, also on March 16, starting at 10 a.m. Inga Aksamit will lead a three-hour course covering the basics of self-contained overnight camping, and examining appropriate gear. She will bring examples of all the gear needed. No actual hiking is involved in this instructional session, the goal is to introduce participants to modern, lightweight backpacking strategies. This class will be held at the Robert Ferguson Obseratory classroom; for $10 registration.

The following day, Sunday, March 17, Bob Young will lead a two-hour walk along the Canyon Trail to photograph the waters of upper Sonoma Creek. Water photography takes different technics that scenic, emphasizing time exposure and, of necessity, tripods. Bring water and good hiking shoes. Meet at the visitor center at 9am. Class limited to ten people; reserve and purchase at

Saturday, March 23 finds nature hikers getting in an early spring hike along the Montini Preserve Trail. Meet at the Vallejo Home parking lot at noon, wearing appropriate clothing and sturdy shoes for a slow-paced mile-long hike from the home up the lower trail, with minor elevation gains. For all ages, free, no reservations needed.

March 23 also finds docent Mary Gold leading another hike to explore the medicial and edible plants of Sugarloaf Ridge. Meet at the visitors center at 9:30 a.m. and be prepared for a 2- to 3-mile walk with a 300-foot climb. Cost is $10 per adult, 18 and under free. Parking fees still apply. Edible plant information is for educational purposes only.

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