By Doña Uhrig
Sunday Signal Editor
It won’t be a super bloom like what we saw in 1998, 2005, 2016 or 2019, but the wildflowers are starting to bloom and they still paint the desert with the beautiful colors of nature.
According to the National Park Service, there wasn’t enough rain early in the year for a large bloom. However, the rain in December was good news.
AV Poppy Reserve
It still may be a bit early, but The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is starting to come alive. The duration and intensity of colors varies year to year, says the California Department of Parks and Recreation. But the season typically lasts from mid-February to May.
The reserve has eight miles of trails that wander through the rolling hills. There also is wheelchair access so the whole family can enjoy the show.
The Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Cnter is open March 1 through Mother’s Day with its wildflower and wildlife exhibits. There are also shaded picnic tables available to just relax and enjoy.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset, year round. Parking fees are $10/vehicle, $9/vehicle if there is a senior (62+) on board and $5/vehicle if you have a disabled discount card.
The reserve is located 15 miles west of Highway 14 near the city of Lancaster. The visitor center is located 1/2 mile north of the intersection of 150th St W & Lancaster Road. For more information, visit www. parks.ca.gov/?page_id=627 or call (661) 724-1180.
Joshua Tree National Park
Wildflowers should begin blooming in the lower elevations of the Pinto Basin and along the park’s south boroundary in February, accounding to the park service.
One of the best ways to experience Joshua Tree is to join in one of their 3-hour naturalists guided walks. You will learn about the wildflowers, native plants and wildlife on these morning or afternoon walks, which range from easy to moderate depending on your ability or interests. The walks are under four miles roundtrip. For more information, email [email protected]
Visit www.inaturalist.org/projects/joshuatree-national-park-wildflower-watch to see what flowers others have spotted recently at the park.
Ed Davis Park in Towsley Canyon
A lot closer to home is Towsley Canyon where you can see wildflowers and butterflies.
The Towsley Loop Trail is recommended by local hikers for the best wildflower viewing. Towsley Canyon is located at 24335 The Old Road, Newhall, 91381. For more information, visit mrca.ca.gov/ parks/park-listing/ed-davis-park-in-towsleycanyon. Parking is $7, however there is also a nofee lot if you want to walk farther to the park.
Placerita Canyon Natural Area
Placerita Canyon is another local area where you can see wildflowers, butterflies and wildlife. The Nature Center has several programs that give you the opportuniy to explore the local area. Every fourth Saturday of the month is a “Blooms of the Season” wildflower walk is held 9:30-10:30 a.m. And, the first and second Saturdays of the month are bird walks that start at 8 a.m. Family nature walks are held Saturdays at 11 a.m.
The Placerita Canyon Nature Center is located at 19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall, 91321. For more information, visit www.placerita.org.
This hidden gem is a great spot to hike away from the crowds and get a great workout.
The first half-mile is pretty steep, but the scenery is worth the efforts and the wildflowers. You’ll see young oaks, lush vegetation and a beautiful view of Aliso Canyon when you reach the top of the mountain.
The Weldon Canyon Motorway Trailhead is located at 22925 Coltrane Ave, Newhall, CA 91321.
For more information, visit www.alltrails.com/ trail/us/california/newhall-pass-weldon-canyontrail. �
When Wildflowers Typically Bloom
Mid February to Mid April
Where Lower elevations on alluvial fans and foothills.
Wildflowers Desert Gold (Geraea canescens), Notch-leaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata), Caltha-leaf Phacelia (Phacelia calthifolia), Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes), Gravel Ghost (Atrichoseris platyphylla), Bigelow Monkeyflower (Mimulus bigelovii), Desert Five-spot (Eremalche rotundifolia)
Early April to Early May
Where 3,000 to 5,000 feet elevations, upper desert slopes, canyons and higher valleys.
Wildflowers Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), Princesplume (Stanleya pinnata), Desert Paintbrush (Castilleja chromosa), Fremont Phacelia (Phacelia fremontii), Mojave Aster (Xyloriza tortifolia), Bigelow’s Coreopsis (Coreopsis bigelovii), Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus arborescens), Desert Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)
Early May to Mid July
Where 5,000 to 11,000 feet elevation on mountain slopes, pinyon pine and juniper woodlands.
Wildflowers Desert Mariposa (Calochortus kennedyi), Purple Sage (Salvia dorrii), Rose Sage (Salvia pachyphylla), Panamint Penstemon (Penstemon floridus austinii), Magnificent Lupine (Lupinus magnificus), Inyo Lupine (Lupinus excubitus)
— Courtesy National Park Service