By Michele E. Buttelman
Wildflower season in Southern California is here. It normally starts mid-February and lasts through April. Because of the recent heavy rains everyone is hoping for a colorful spring.
The Santa Clarita Valley is lush with a velvet carpet of green and wildflowers, especially poppies, have been spotted peeking through the grass.
Will there be a “superbloom” this year?
Experts say “time will tell.”
DesertUSA.com is predicting an excellent wildflower season with substantial rainfall across the best wildflower viewing areas.
In the Santa Clarita Valley, Dianne Hellrigel, president of the Santa Clarita Community Hiking Club, said she has spotted a few poppies on local hillsides and along Soledad Canyon Road.
“We have received a ton of rain, so I expect we will have a great wildflower season,” she said.
Hellrigel also reports that Ceanothus is “blooming everywhere, there’s a great display on the Elder trail. White Thorn Ceanothus and Blue Dicks are blooming on the Taylor Trail.”
Those trails can be found in Towsley Canyon.
For information visit https://www.hikingproject.com/trail/7053412/taylor-trail and https://www.hikingproject.com/trail/7098639/elder-loop
One of the best places to view wildflowers in the SCV is the Placerita Canyon Natural Area and Placerita Canyon State Park. Other SCV locations include Pico Canyon Park and Towsley Canyon.
Placerita Nature Center
19152 Placerita Canyon Road,
Newhall, CA 91321
The Placerita Nature Center Loop is a an easy 1.4-mile stroll with wildflowers and historic sites, such as the old Walker cabin and the Oak of the Golden Dream, where California’s first gold rush started in 1842.
There are a variety of trails that start at the Nature Center. Visit placerita.org /maps-brochure/ for downloadable trail maps of the area and informational brochures.
The Nature Center recently debuted a trio of educational films for visitors, including one on wildflowers. Nature Center hours are Tuesday-Sunday 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.
During wildflower season be sure to take advantage of the “Blooms of the Season” program with RuthAnne Murthy. Learn about the native plants of the SCV. Meet in the patio at 9.30 a.m. for a one-hour stroll on the fourth Saturday of every month. Bring your camera and questions. For more information about this free program call (661) 259-7721 or (661) 259-7832.
Pico Canyon Park
25600 Pico Canyon Road,
Stevenson Ranch, CA 91381
One of the attractions of Pico Canyon Park, run by the Los Angeles County Dept. of Parks and Rec. are the Pico Canyon stairs.
The park features 163 paved stairs and another 340 steps carved in the dirt of different heights with short hikes in between.
You will also find an array of wildflowers and plants. A recent visitor to the park found numerous poppies on the high ridges along the road to the park as well as poppies, lavender, larkspur and maidenhair ferns during her hike in the park.
The 21-acre park is also home to the magnificent transplanted oak tree popularly known as “Old Glory.”
Ed Davis Park in Towsley Canyon
24335 The Old Road,
Newhall, CA 91321
Miles of trails, beautiful views and abundant wildflowers can be found at this park run by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. There is a $7 parking fee at the trailhead.
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
15101 Lancaster Road,
Lancaster, CA 93536
The wildflower bloom generally occurs from mid-March through April, but varies widely each year. The peak viewing period is usually late March or early April.
The reserve features eight miles of trails through the gentle rolling hills. The reserve is also home to a variety of wildflowers, not just poppies. During the spring bloom you can experience a daily change in the palette as different wildflowers show their colors.
The Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center is open March 1 through Mother’s Day, with wildflower and wildlife exhibits, an orientation video and a gift shop. Parking is $10 per car.
Visitors must stay on the trails; dogs are not permitted and wildflower gathering is not permitted.
An interesting fact about poppies is that the flowers will close at night and on overcast and windy days.
To download a map of the reserve visit: https://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/627/files/p%20r%20trail%20map.pdf
To see the status of the current bloom, view the live poppy cam: www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=31189
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
200 Palm Canyon Drive,
Borrego Springs, CA 92004
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has had two superblooms in the last decade. They occurred in 2017 and 2019. Having two superblooms so close together is a rare occurrence. Exceptional displays of wildflowers typically occur on an average of every 10 to 15 years. However, DesertUSA.com expects the wildflower bloom to be “phenomenal” this year. Visit the website for a map to the wildflowers.
Death Valley National Park
West Entrance Furnace Creek Visitor Center
Furnace Creek, CA 92328
It’s still too early to tell what the bloom will look like in the Mojave and Death Valley National Park.
Generally, superblooms in the park are preceded by fall/winter rains. The heavy rainfall in January should ensure an above-average bloom this spring. The most recent superblooms in Death Valley occurred in 2005 and 2016.
The bad news for lovers of the California Poppy is that city of Lake Elsinore will enforce a “keep out” ban of visitors to Walker Canyon.
The canyon is known for its rich poppy fields will be closed to the public in 2023 to prevent a repeat of the chaotic scenario that played out during the last “superbloom” in 2019.
Lake Elsinore Mayor Natasha Johnson and Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco recently announced that Lake Elsinore’s Walker Canyon trailhead and the adjacent wildflower fields will be closed to all visitors this spring.
The city will implement a zero tolerance, “keep out” policy.