UPDATE: It’s possible the Lake St. freeway offramp will be closed in the afternoon due to overcrowding at the Walker Canyon Trailhead.
Orange swaths of California poppies are covering the hillsides due to an unusually wet winter. It’s called super bloom for a reason because of the spectacular bounty of blooms from poppies to lupine to bluebells this season. Here’s how to plan your wildflower-viewing this spring:
1. Plan to arrive early in the morning before it gets too crowded and the heat of the day sets in. For the best showing, poppies need full sun so plan accordingly.
2. Be prepared by dressing appropriately for walking and hiking on dirt trails, bring a hat or umbrella or use sunscreen to protect your skin.
3. Follow the “Leave No Trace” principles: don’t pick the flowers, stay on the official trails, don’t bring a drone, and keep your dogs on a leash except in designated off-leash areas.
Where to go see the floral explosion:
1. Walker Canyon, Lake Elsinore: The most reliable spot to see waves and waves of poppies. Park along Walker Canyon Road closer to Hill Top Drive, which is at the southern end. It’s a lesser known trail, but the poppies are just as abundant with less foot traffic and easier to find parking. To have the best experience, visit Monday through Friday, as record crowds are packing Walker Canyon on the weekends, which has led to trail closures.
2. Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, Lancaster: This area is known for orange poppies, yellow poppies, sunflowers, lacy Phacelia, purple chia sage, purple and blue lupine and more.
3. Carrizo Plain National Monument, San Luis Obispo County: When the wildflowers start fading in the south, venture north to the Central Valley. The peak is usually in April with the hillsides covered in predominantly yellow and purple flowers. Most of the purple is Phacelia, with some occasional lupine and the yellow is a combination of hillside daisies, California goldfields, and fiddlenecks.