Where the wild oaks are:
Northern & central California
Bidwell Park, Chico: Oak woodlands (of 7 species) spread across one of the country’s largest city parks. At One-Mile Recreation Area, along Big Chico Creek, valley oaks reach more than 100 feet tall. bidwellpark.org.
Cosumnes River Preserve, Galt: South of Sacramento, valley oaks in dense forest and meadows; 4.5 miles of trails. cosumnes.org.
Kaweah Oaks Preserve, Visalia: Just off State 198 (and a good stop on the way to Sequoia N.P.), near-pristine forests of valley oaks. sequoiariverlands.org.
Peter J. Shields Oak Grove, UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, Davis: A grand collection of 100 types of oaks, including 8 California species plus many others from around the world. A cool stop on I-80. arboretum.ucdavis.edu/oak-collection.aspx.
Malibu Creek State Park, Calabasas: Trails in this Santa Monica Mountains park lead to savannas studded with coast live and valley oaks. $12/vehicle; malibucreekstatepark.org.
Oak Glen Preserve, Oak Glen: Known for its apples, The Wildlands Conservancy’s preserve at the base of the San Bernardinos also showcases oaks. wildlandsconservancy.org/preserve_oakglen.html.
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Santa Barbara:The Woodland Trail shows coast live oaks nurturing a rich community of plant life (lemonade berry, toyon). $10; sbbg.org.
Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, Murrieta: A nearly 10,000-acre reserve noted for its Engelmann oaks, found mostly in parts of San Diego and Riverside Counties. $3; rivcoparks.org.