Misty forest

WELCOME to

WELCOME

to

Finding California

Refresh your relationship here.

Deep down, we all know, there are two Californias.

There’s the familiar human California, the one we create and live in.

And then there’s the California our world’s been built on ~ a vastly richer bit of planet that was here long before we moved in.

FINDING CALIFORNIA is about deepening our relationship with that second, wild California.

It’s still here, very much alive, resilient and inspiring.

And whether we fully appreciate it or not, we’re still deeply connected.

That’s why experiencing the other California can inspire, excite, soothe, heal.  Spark wonder, curiosity, romance.

It’s welcoming us home, if we pause to listen. And keep us from drifting further apart.

There are three ways to use this site.

It’s a portal you can open any time to visit that hidden California, with fresh notes and images I send back from the trail.

It’s a source for discovering some of the hidden deeper stories nature tells here.

And, there are also simple guides with tips on how to discover and explore California’s secret natural wonders on your own ~ and especially with children.

Like to experience more of nature's hidden secrets?

FINDING CALIFORNIA is about finding and experiencing the layers of stories hiding in Nature everywhere.

Hiking Sugarloaf Stephen Nett

I’m a California Naturalist, science writer and editor, photographer and public speaker. I’ve hiked and explored the natural history of California for over five decades.

Stephen Nett

I love the natural worlds of California, and the opportunity to explore them. I create FINDING CALIFORNIA because most of us don’t get to come face to face with ‘Nature’ on a daily basis.

Out here, every hour, babies waddle, raptors soar, waterfalls crash, lions roam, forests sway, otters nap, colors erupt, surf ka-rumps on stone and sand.

While we’re busy in our human world, Nature is still happening, all the time, everywhere around us. We have the remarkable opportunity to experience all of that – and keep our relationship with the rest of nature alive. I think it’s crucial we do. For all our sakes.

Here, I share some of the natural wonders and wild life I experience walking the trails of Northern California as a naturalist, writer, photographer.  There are three main sections.

Dispatches: short photo reports of wonders I find on the trail in Northern California

Stories: longer explorations of nature’s features I uncover

Guides: some of the tips and information I’ve gathered over the past several decades about experiencing nature, and using our own legacy toolkit of senses, for children and adults.

Click the portals to go exploring yourself, or simply enjoy and discover.

About Exploring Hidden California

Halfway between the equator and arctic ice, along a buckled North American coastline, you’ll find one of this planet’s 36 rare ‘biological hotspots’ – patches teeming with extraordinarily rich collections of unique life and habitats. This particular hotspot sits roughly inside what today we call California. Those lucky enough to walk out beyond where the pavement ends can still experience some of its living riches and awe inspiring landscapes. They are unlike any other on Earth.

Alpine lake under stormy skies reflecting white granite, with lush green island in the center and shifting light, in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Yosemite.
Storm passing alpine Ellery Lake in the high Sierras near Yosemite National Park.

Around 23,000 years ago when humans first found this hotspot it was so diverse and abundant that in time they thrived in greater number here than anywhere on the continent, and without agriculture – the only indigenous peoples in the Americas not to farm.  Instead, over centuries Native Californians forged an elaborate and intimately detailed knowledge of their wild world. They recognized, individually named and interacted skillfully with it’s habitats and inhabitants: several thousand species of birds, mammals, fish, mollusks, plants, insects and other life.

Some of that incredible natural world is still here today. Much of what remains is being fiercely protected by government and private employees and volunteers inside Parks, Preserves, Land Trusts and Conservation properties. Many of these places are open to the public to wander into and explore. For those willing and able to do so on foot, these ‘islands’ of nature in California hold abundant worlds, and unique hidden treasures, waiting to be found. Even in our backyards and cities, along our roadways and waterways, in the earth beneath us and the air above, the wild nature of California remains.

FIND CALIFORNIA HERE

WHO IS THIS SITE FOR

We're all born into a lifelong relationship with nature. A growing number of people are working to support and aid the natural world.  To ensure as much of it will continue to thrive, and guarantee there are places to wander in that allow us to build and restore our relationship.

About Exploring Hidden California

Halfway between the equator and arctic ice, along a buckled North American coastline, you’ll find one of this planet’s 36 rare ‘biological hotspots’ – patches teeming with extraordinarily rich collections of unique life and habitats. This particular hotspot sits roughly inside what today we call California. Those lucky enough to walk out beyond where the pavement ends can still experience some of its living riches and awe inspiring landscapes. They are unlike any other on Earth.

Alpine lake under stormy skies reflecting white granite, with lush green island in the center and shifting light, in the Sierra Nevada mountains near Yosemite.
Storm passing alpine Ellery Lake in the high Sierras near Yosemite National Park.

Around 23,000 years ago when humans first found this hotspot it was so diverse and abundant that in time they thrived in greater number here than anywhere on the continent, and without agriculture – the only indigenous peoples in the Americas not to farm.  Instead, over centuries Native Californians forged an elaborate and intimately detailed knowledge of their wild world. They recognized, individually named and interacted skillfully with it’s habitats and inhabitants: several thousand species of birds, mammals, fish, mollusks, plants, insects and other life. 

Some of that incredible natural world is still here today. Much of what remains is being fiercely protected by government and private employees and volunteers inside Parks, Preserves, Land Trusts and Conservation properties. Many of them are open to the public to wander into and explore. For those willing and able to do so on foot, these ‘islands’ of nature in California hold abundant worlds, and unique hidden treasures, waiting to be found. Even in our backyards and cities, along our roadways and waterways, in the earth beneath us and the air above, the wild nature of California remains.

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