Spring is in the air. That means some of us are sneezing like crazy, but it also means wildflowers are popping up throughout San Diego County. It’s a great time to take a hike! So where can you see wildflowers in San Diego?
The short answer? Everywhere.
In the desert you may see desert sand-verbena, dune evening-primrose, and desert sunflower. Inland areas may have golden yarrows, San Diego sweet pea, and, of course, California poppies. Closer to the coast, there’s wild heliotrope and California encelia (a.k.a. brittlebrush). But whatever you may see, timing is everything.
This time of year, we also get questions about a “super bloom”—an outbreak of flowers that exceeds the norm. A lot of factors must align for a super bloom to happen, so they typically occur about once a decade. However, with changes in climate, they are less predictable. But even when there’s not a bonafide “super bloom,” wildflowers are everywhere in southern California. You just need to know where to look.
There are four trails our Canyoneers particularly love to hike when on the lookout for wildflowers, especially native ones. And while we called them our favorite wildflower walks, some are definitely hikes. Of course, before heading out, check to see if the trail is open to the public, and be sure you’re prepared. We hope you find a new trail to love or an old favorite to appreciate with new friends.
Bow Willow to Mountain Palm Springs – Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Explore desert blooms along this loop. If yellow is your favorite color, you’ll love to see lots of creosote shrubs with their deep green leaves and tiny sunshine flowers. Enjoy the weather before summer hits, and take a breather in the palm grove found on this trail. Learn more.
Eagle Rock – Cleveland National Forest
This is a little taste of the Pacific Crest Trail. At the peak of the season, whole hillsides may be painted blue, yellow, red, or golden with wildflowers. You’ll also see what may be San Diego’s oldest and largest sugar bush, and can take a great photo at the rock formation that gives this hike its name. Learn more.
Plum Canyon – Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
No plums here, but there are desert apricot trees! The special location of this canyon has allowed it to develop a beautiful diversity of desert flora. From California juniper to desert-lavender, ocotillo to desert-willow, you’ll get a crash course in desert plant life. Learn more.
Volcan Mountain - Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve
Cream cups galore! Head to the summit or go halfway, either one will give you beautiful views. In spring, the climb is filled with blossoms. But bring binoculars if you have them—with eight different kinds of oaks on this trail, there are plenty of birds bustling about. Learn more.
And for even more stunning spring trails, check out 10 Great Hikes for Spring. Our Canyoneers also offer in-person, guided hikes most of the year, taking a break in the hottest summer months. There’s a lot more than wildflowers out there, and our incredible volunteers are excited to share it all with you.
Want to know what’s happening outdoors? Sign up for our newsletter. Want even more wildflowers? Watch Nat Talk Climate Series: A 27-Year Wildflower Journey and join internationally acclaimed conservation photographers Rob Badger and Nita Winter through years photographing wildflowers and super blooms throughout California.
The Canyoneer program is made possible with support from dedicated volunteers and proud partner Subaru of America.
Photo credits: Plum Canyon, Wieslaw Wierzbickl. Creosote, Gregory Larrea. Eagle Rock, James Deaver. Volcan Mountain cream cups, Brendan K.
Posted by Stephania Villar, Digital Communications Manager .
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