Spring is a time for rebirth in the California High Sierra. The snow begins to recede to the higher elevations and the sun angle becomes more pronounced. The foothills transition from earthy brown tones to the bright cheery crayons of spring. It also means wildflower season is upon us! Here are just a few of the best wildflower hiking opportunities coming up in April and beyond. Don’t wait… because if you do, you’ll miss seeing some of the greatest natural tapestries in the world.
Red Hills Recreation Area
The vegetation and landscape in the Red Hills Recreation Area is one-of-a kind. How rare? Well, the assemblage of plant species found here include seven rare specimens that occur nowhere else on the planet. You can expect to see a rich variety of annual wildflowers with a spectrum of yellow, white and lavender. You may even get a sighting of the endangered Bald Eagle!
Mokelumne River Canyon
Granite scenery, high country and big water at high elevations… what more could you want on a hike? Inside the deep Mokelumne River Canyon, you’ll see beautiful Sierra Nevada vistas, aspens and wildflowers all on display just for you. If you’re really serious about wildflower sightings, download a checklist so you don’t miss anything from California poppies to brilliant lupines.
Hite Cove Trail
Beaming with a spectacular display of wildflowers in early Spring, February to April is the perfect time to visit the Hite Cove Trail. Hikers are welcomed to a beautiful palette of colors with over 60 varieties of wildflowers blanketing the hillsides along the South Fork of the Merced river. Follow the guidelines of “Leave No Trace” and take pictures instead of wildflowers home so that future generations can enjoy them as well.
Closure Alert: The Hite Cove trail is currently closed due to damage from the 2018 Ferguson Fire.
A riparian wetland, it contains one of the richest wetland floras in the entire Great Basin. Only minutes from Bishop and Highway 395, there is a beautiful driving loop in addition to multiple easy hikes with over 125 plant species to spot, including eight rare varieties, Fish Slough is an extravagant find for flower enthusiasts. The diversity of species will deliver a vast assortment of color and size. Here you’ll see blossoms of cream, yellow and magenta carpeting the slopes that border the slough. For some additional options and historical treasures, stop by the Bishop Visitor Center.
Little Lakes Valley Trail
For those planning a trip this summer to the High Sierra, the Little Lakes Valley trail, located at the end of Rock Creek Road, is one of the most scenic and relatively gentle hikes found in the Eastern Sierra. After the winter snow has melted, you’ll be surrounded by subalpine flowers such as purple lupine, paint brush, crimson columbine and bull elephant’s head, sprouting around mid- to late July.
After a Febru-buried, it’s “high-time” to plan a trip to the High Sierra and see the explosive color of wildflowers that few other places can compete with.
Author: Alex Silgalis
Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at https://localfreshies.com
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