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Indian Nature Trail, The Pomo Indian Natural Resources

Clear Lake SP: A Self Guided discovery trail walk featuring the Pomo Indians natural resources.

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Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 0.4 miles
Duration: Less than 1 hour
Family Friendly

Overview :  The Indian Nature Trail is a short, half-mile self-guided educational excursion displaying some of the local vegetation that was... more »

Tips:  Poison oak is found throughout the park. Stay on trails and in designated areas.

The entrance to the park is 3.5 miles... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trail Head

Start at the trail head on the main road. It's just inside the park's entrance booth. Use the parking area located here orwalk in from your camp site.

Grab a copy of the Discovery Guide at the trail headwhich describes the POI's to be visited on this short walk.

The initial portion of this quick walk is uphill.

2. Poison Oak

(Toxicodendron diversilobum)

Stems: The Pomo wove the stems for basketry.

Juices: were used as a black dye in basketry, tattooing, and on other items.

Medicinal: the oils were used to cure ringworm and warts.

Constant handling of poison oak by the Indians allowed them to become largely immune to the irritants. When they did get the poison... More

3. Grasses

The Pomo gathered a wide variety of grass seeds that included beard grass, bromes, wild oats, and fescues.

Uses included:
Grains for flour and as flavorings.

Preparation began with parching over live coals in baskets to dry the seed, followed by grinding.

The word Pinole translates to meal made of grass.

4. Redbud

(Cercis occidentalis)

This plant was commonly used to provide material for the colored patterns in basketry. The stems were colored to a dark red by exposing them to smoke or blackened by soaking in water with oak ash or bark.

5. Sweathouse

The remains of a village sweathouse lie near this position. Similar in construction to a dance house, they differed by not having a smoke hole or center support hole. The basic construction was that of a pit, sometimes with vertical walls, topped by a conical roof.

They were primarily used by the men who sat on the floor around a fire in the pit,... More

6. Mortar

The Pomo women used stone pestles to crush seed and nuts they had gathered in this mortar. A "hopper" basket with a hole in the bottom was placed over this indentation to keep the flour from scattering. Pestles were generally cylindrical stones with rounded ends.

The soils in this area are blackened and darkened with shell fragments and obsidian ... More

7. Elderberry

(Sambucus Mexicana)

Elderberries were eaten fresh and could also be dyed for winter use. They could also be made into a drink.

Branches of the elderberry were made into flutes and other musical instruments for dance and ceremonies.

The "clapper" was a percussion instrument made by partially splitting and then drying a 2' long elderberry stick.

8. Valley Oak and 8-Blue Oak

(Quercus lobata)
The Valley Oak. According to Pomo legend, the acorn was plentiful because in ancient times, during the days of the "Bird People", the blue jay lived on acorns. As he knew where the oaks would grow he planted an acorn at each spot.

Acorns were an important part of the food supply and diet.-so much that individual oaks frequently... More

9. Trail Junction

Continue straight along the hills slope.

10. Basket Brush

Basket Brush or Red-Fruited Sumac

(Rhus trilobata)

The leaves closely resemble poison oak but the berries are red, not white.

The berries were dried and powdered to make a drink and were an excellent source of vitamin C.

11. Redberry

(Rhamnus crocea, var. illicifolia)

One of the many berry producing plants eaten.

12. Virgin's Bower

Virgin's Bower, also known as Clematis.
(Clematis ligustifolia)

This summer growing plant is a high climbing vine that features large clusters of white spidery flowers. The stems and leaves have a peppery taste that were chewed to treat colds and sore throats.

13. Foothill Pine

(Pinus sabiniana)

These pines are found throughout the coastal ranges and in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Pine nuts: The cones were heated to release the pine nuts which added the well known flavor to meals.

Pitch: The pitch was used to protect burns and sores and was highly useful as an adhesive.

Roots: The roots were another material... More

14. Junction

Trail Intersection. Take the right hand trail (uphill) to the southeast.

15. California Buckeye

(Aesculus californica)

The Buckeye's fruit is poisonous but can be eaten when properly prepared.

During years when acorns were scarce, the buckeye fruit was ground to flour and rinsed in water for several days to leach out the bitter toxins. The prepared flour was then baked in a pit lined with hot rocks.

16. Sticky Monkey Flower

(Mimulus aurantiacus)

Found primarily on rocky, dry chaparral-dominated slopes. The orange flowered plant blooms from late spring and into the summer.

The flowers, leaves, and stems were boiled and then strained and were useful as an eye wash.

17. Scenic View and Toyon

This point has both POI 17-Toyon/California Holly
(Heteromeles arbutifolia)

Toyon fruit were periodically eaten raw but more often cooked by boiling or parching.

Additional common plants to the region are adjacent. They are small foothill pines and manzanita.

The view overlooks "Big Valley", likely to be old lake bottom. The highly fertile soil... More

18. Soap Plant

Soap Plant
(Chlorogalum pomeridianum)

This plant has a bulbous root that when pounded provides a soapy juice. The Pomo also threw the pounded bulbs into the water. The juices tended to stupefy the fish, making them easier to catch.

The fibers covering the bulbs could also be tied into bundles for handy scrub brushes and even hair brushes.

The... More

19. Junction

Return to the intersection and take the uphill trail northerly.

20. Golden-Back Fern

(Pentagramma triangularis)

This is a small- to medium-sized fern that prefers dry banks and rocky areas. The leaf undersides are covered with whitish or yellowish spores.

The leaves were useful in basketry.

21. Bigberry Manzanita

(Arctostaphylos glauca)

A berry producing manzanita. The berries can be dried and ground to a fine meal suitable for breads and biscuits. They were also used in ciders.

A favorite food for bears.

22. Obsidian

Volcanic glass. A prized material for stone tools requiring a sharp edge such as arrow heads, knives, scrapers, and other critical items.

A local major source was a quarry near Sulfer Bank in this region.

High quality obsidians were a valued trade item. The highest quality could be traded hundreds of miles from its source.

23. Junction

Trail Junction. Take the trail heading to the bottom of the hill.

24. End

End of the trail.

Please return the Indian Nature Trail Guides for reuse.