The Prince Trail

Since we’ve had some rain this winter, a trail named Waterfall Trail sounded promising. Looking back, this trail should’ve been called the Prince Trail (RIP, Your Purple Highness) in honor of the abundance of purple wildflowers in bloom here.

Salsify or Oyster Plant

Right off the bat, gorgeous salsifies greeted us by the fence around the organic farm. Salsifies, also known as oyster plants, have been cultivated in the Mediterranean for 2,000 years for its edible root, said to taste like oysters or artichokes.

Bird Vetch, Tufted Vetch or Cat Peas

Fields of bird vetches lined Indian Valley Fire Road and danced merrily in the breeze all the way to Waterfall Trail.

Red Clover

Red clovers tried to stake a claim amidst the carpets of bird vetch. This little guy held its own.

Great Hedge Nettle

The purple tour continued with the great hedge nettle.

Pacheco Pond

Pacheco Pond provided a rich habitat for fish, ducks and a variety of wildlife, including…


So when Wogzilla grows up to be Frogzilla and destroys the city of Novato, we know where it came from!

Purple Owl’s Clover or Escobita

Purple owl’s clovers provided bursts of color along the stream continuing up Waterfall Trail.


From a distance, these looked just like dandelions. Upon closer inspection, however, the blow-wives petals are distinctly different from a dandelion’s puffball.


An ookow decided this was the place to hang with its purple brethren.

Sticky Monkey Flower or Orange Bush Monkey Flower

And while the sticky monkey flower clearly didn’t get the memo, not only were these yellow flowers used by the Miwok and Pomo Native Americans for decorative purposes, they also served as remedies for minor ailments such as sores, burns, diarrhea, and eye irritation.

Blue Belly or Western Fence Lizard

Blue belly lizards were out in force, and not shy about humans getting in their personal space for a close-up.

At this point, we started to wonder if we missed the waterfall, especially since we’d reached the peak and began the trek downhill. While the waterfall didn’t make an appearance for some time, we did see…


…a lone iris…

Italian Thistle or Plymouth Thistle

…italian thistles just starting to bloom…

White Brodiaea, White Triple Lily or Fool’s Onion

…and clusters of white brodiaea.

The waterfall, when we finally happened upon it, was more of a trickle than a gushing torrent. But it was still a pleasant, scenic stop.

So, even though the headliner failed to wow, Waterfall Trail was still a thoroughly enjoyable hike on a beautiful spring day, with brilliant pinks and purples display. We’d love to return after a heavy rainfall to see the falls in its full glory.


  • Location: Indian Valley Open Space Preserve, Novato
  • Directions: From Highway 101 in Novato, take the Ignacio Blvd/Bel Marin Keys Blvd exit west on Ignacio Blvd. approximately 2.5 miles all the way through campus. Park in the far west end ($4/day fee). Trailhead entrance is on the right near the station.
  • Trails: Indian Valley Fire Road, Waterfall Trail and Ad Schwindt Trail to form a 3.5 mile loop
  • Level: Moderate
  • Attractions: Wildflowers, pond, fish, birds, hills, lizards, newts, frogs and waterfall (better after rain)

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