After years of crippling drought, the 2017 rainy season has brought much-needed relief to California. Reservoirs are full, snow pack is high, and our rolling hills are vibrantly green once again. One of the most pleasant side effects of an ample rainy season is the explosion of wildflowers that is currently taking place in and around Orange County. Now is the time to hit the trails and appreciate Orange County area parks wilderness areas at their absolute finest.
One of the best place places to see a diverse array of wildflowers is Irvine's Bommer Canyon. Here hikers will discover lupine, goldfields, fiddlenecks, chia, thistle, storksbill, blue dicks, prickly pear, poppies, and more.
Beyond Bommer Canyon, expect to spot wildflowers in Hidden Canyon, Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, Santiago Oaks Regional Park, Caspers Wilderness Park, and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Special guided wildflower-focused hikes will take place in various locations at the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Advanced signup is necessary.
East of Irvine, a massive wildflower explosion in occurring in Chino Hills State Park. Carpets of poppies, lupine, and various other wildflowers are blanketing the vibrantly green hillsides, making it one of the prime wildflower viewing locations in the entire state. The drive from Irvine to the State Park along the 241 Toll Road is incredibly scenic with all sorts of wildflowers to gaze at along the way.
One other location not to be missed is Walker Canyon, located about an hour from Irvine off I15 near Lake Elsinore. This location has caused traffic jams because gawkers gazing at the fields of poppies that can be spotted from the freeway. A short walk uphill from the parking area off of the Lake Blvd exit will allow you to be up close and personal with California's official state flower.
Want more wildflower fun? Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks is hosting 24 Hours of Wildflowers on all their social media platforms in celebration of wildflower season! Every hour for 24 hours on March 21, 2017, they will be featuring a different native wildflower and sharing where you can find it out on the park land. The fun will start at 9 a.m. Follow the hashtags #24HoursofWildflowers and #OCMountaintoSea.
All photos by Sharlene Earnshaw