California’s Wonderful Wildflower Trails

Widespread superblooms do not occur annually, they are a rare phenomenon that usually happen only once every 10 to 15 years.
Widespread superblooms do not occur annually, they are a rare phenomenon that usually happen only once every 10 to 15 years.
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A combination of several atmospheric rivers and Hurricane Hilary made 2023 one of the wettest winters in California’s recorded history receiving 141% of its average annual rainfall. With the rain comes an expectation of a spring superbloom of wildflowers. 

Widespread superblooms do not occur annually, they are a rare phenomenon that usually happen only once every 10 to 15 years. However, the past three superblooms in California blossomed in 2017, 2019 and 2023.

 

Will 2024 also bring a superbloom? 

Some experts say superblooms are possible this spring in Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve.  

If a superbloom fails to materialize this year it is interesting to note that wildflower seeds can lie dormant for years before they germinate. 

To find out where the wildflowers are blooming the best resource is the Theodore Payne Foundation Wild Flower Hotline which resumed on March 8, and updates every Friday into June.  

You can access the info by dialing (818) 768-1802 ext. 7 or by reading the online blog at theodorepayne.org/learn/blog.

 

Santa Clarita Valley Wildflowers 

There are many places to view wildflowers in the SCV. Just about any open space you spy around the SCV will be dotted with wildflowers when the time is right and you look closely.  

Placerita Canyon Nature Center 

19152 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall 91321 

Info www.placerita.org 

Docent naturalist at Placerita Canyon RuthAnne Murthy said no super bloom has been spotted in the Santa Clarita Valley, yet.  

“Things are going very slowly so far this spring,” Murthy said. “I’ve kept track the wildflowers for years and it seems this year they are behind, probably because it has been so cold. The ground needs to warm up.” 

Murthy, who leads a monthly wildflower walk that meets the fourth Saturday of the month at 9:30 a.m. at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center, said her Blooms of the Season wildflower walk was canceled at the end of March because of heavy rains.  

“That’s the first time that has happened in 10 years,” she said. 

Murthy said Placerita Canyon, boosted by heavy rains last August from Tropical Storm Hilary, had a beautiful unexpected fall bloom.  

“We had a lot of our annuals flower in September and October,” she said. “It will be interesting to see if we have a second bloom, I don’t know what is going to happen. For example, the woolly bluecurl, which normally blooms in April bloomed in October. It will be interesting to see if these flowers bloom again this spring.” 

Murthy said Placerita Canyon has more than 300 species of plants with always something to see year-round. Currently, the shrubs are on schedule with hoary leaf ceanothus and sugarbushes visible. California peonies are also in bloom. 

“The Ecology Trail at Placerita has an amazing number of wildflowers that bloom on that short trail,” Murthy said.  

Murthy recommends that SCV residents get out and explore many of the open spaces and trails in the SCV. “You’ll see something different at each place,” she said.  

To explore Santa Clarita’s trails check out hikesantaclarita.com. According to Murthy, “Golden Valley is often overlooked, there are a lot of annuals there.” Another place to check out is the Wildwood Canyon Open Space area where you can find chocolate lilies and soap plants,” she said.  

Towsley Canyon is another popular area to visit. It is “always beautiful, there is so much to see.” 

According to Murthy, two places to keep an eye out for are Taylor Canyon at Rivendale and Whitney Canyon. She said he was recently at Taylor Canyon and it was “slow for the season.” And, Whitney Canyon “is so shaded that the blooms come later there.” Hopefully, blooms will perk up.

 

California Wildflower Trails 

If you are wild about wildflowers there are many other trails and hikes throughout California to enjoy this spring.  

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve 

15101 Lancaster Road, Lancaster 93536 

Info www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=627 

Probably one of the more popular places for Santa Clarita locals is the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, which is famous for its vibrant orange-covered hills. The main wildflower blooms generally take place in the Antelope Valley from March through May with peak viewing generally around mid-April. Reports are also that the poppies may be late bloomers. 

But, in addition to California poppies, you can also spot filaree, fiddleneck, silver puff, forget-me-nots, fringe pod, red maids, sun cups and goldfields. 

Peak viewing period is usually mid-April, but like the SCV this year, reports indicate the poppies may also be late bloomers. To keep tabs on the poppies, check in on the Poppy Cam www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=31189. 

One of the best trails for wildflower viewing at the reserve is the Antelope Loop Trail, an easy 5-plus mile trail.

  

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park 

200 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs 92004 

Info www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=638 

The Anza Borrego Foundation is posting loads of photos of vast wildflower blooms on its Instagram and Facebook pages. 

With 92 different plant families and hundreds of flowering species Anza-Borrego is a “must see” wildflower destination. 

The Pictograph Trail at Anza-Borrego is highly recommended for those looking for an easy, 2.6-mile trail for wildflower viewing. Frequently trekked from March through October, this wildflower hike also offers pictographs on the boulders along the trail.  

For the most recent wildflower update, call the Wildflower Hotline at (760) 767-4684.

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