Don’t be scared if, on your next hike through Point Reyes, you come across fleece- and wool-cap–clad folks armed with knives and woven baskets wandering about aimlessly and staring at the ground. They’re mushroom hunters; winter’s wet conditions along the North Coast draw them in droves. But before you start popping these organic beauties straight into your mouth, know that it can be tricky, even for an expert, to discern between poisonous and nonpoisonous ’shrooms. (You’ve seen Into the Wild, right?) Plus, most state parks require permits before you can go picking. So, if you’re interested in seeking your own chanterelles, black trumpets, candy caps and yellow feet, the best and safest way is to tag along with the specialists on one of these guided foraging adventures.
Bay Area Mycological Society
Armed with microscopes and mushroom experts, this society leads foraging events and tours around the Bay Area. Monthly meetings discuss topics like "What are Mushrooms Doing in My Forest?" and "Fungal Fun in New Zealand." Annual membership $10.
Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz
An informal group since the 1970s and officially a nonprofit since 1984, the Fungus Federation conducts local forays, weeklong trips and workshops through some of the finest mushroom habitats on the West Coast. Members can party with other fungi enthusiasts at the annual Suds ’n ’Shrooms potluck, featuring local home brews, or the Wine and Mushroom Fest with pairings from local winemakers. Serious about mushr