Grassy hills blazing purple with lupine are a glorious sign of spring here. About 200 species of lupines grow in all kinds of habitats. The species isn't particular about soil, but it likes good drainage, which is why lupine is so often found splashed across hillsides.
You can revel in the display by hiking in Marin's Mt. Tamalpais State Park, where lupine abounds around the Coastal Trail. Or take a tour of tiny Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, where four kinds of lupine are found. (Though the refuge is typically closed to the public, it's open for one guided tour this month.) In the South Bay, the wild hillsides of Henry W. Coe State Park hold dozens of secret stashes.
INFO: To find lupine in Mt. Tamalpais State Park, hike about 4 miles one way on the Matt Davis and Coastal Trails from Pantoll Ranger Station ($4 per car; 801 State 1, Mill Valley; 415/388-2070) to Laurel Dell Fire Road. In Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, sign up for a free tour on May 8, 2004 (Fulton Shipyard Rd. north of Wilbur Ave, Antioch; 510/521-9624). In Henry W. Coe State Park ($4 per car; off U.S. 101 and E. Dunne Ave., Morgan Hill; 408/779-2728), hike the 3 1/2-mile round-trip Corral Trail/Manzanita Point Rd./Springs Trail loop.