Southern California Wildflowers
Updated April 2017
Heavy winter rains have created a SUPER BLOOM of wild flowers all over Southern California. Below are some of the best spots to see from the places I've been. With temperatures warming up quickly, watch out for rattle snakes, bring plenty of water and please stay on the trails! Keep in mind that these places are popular, so plan on extra traffic and people unless you go during the week.
Carrizo Plain National Monument (Santa Margarita): This one should be at the very top of your list! Rolling hills w/the largest variety of wildflowers you'll find and huge patches of purple and yellow wildflowers - this place is nothing short of amazing and who knows when it'll look like this again. You can find a map of the area HERE. I would recommend starting at the south entrance from Hwy 166 and make your way up through the National Monument driving along Soda Lake Road. You'll see huge flower patches as you drive and some dirt roads you can follow to get closer to them, so plan on making many stops. When you finally reach Soda Lake (also cool to see), take a right onto Simmler Road. Hang another right when you reach Elkhorn Road and continue until you reach Hurricane Road. Take a left onto Hurricane Road and prepare to stop many times to take little hikes and a ton of photos. This road will eventually turn into Crocker Springs Road and will bring you to the small town of Fellows where you can exit the National Monument and make your way home. One big tip here - bring a vehicle that has good ground clearance, good tires, is in good condition and is fully fueled. Just about all of the roads here are dirt roads and some can be pretty rough at times. Also, there are no gas stations within this entire area and cell phone reception is spotty at best. Approximate hiking distance (roundtrip): barely any at all.
Abalone Cove Shoreline Park (Rancho Palos Verdes): Park at the Abalone Cove Shoreline Park parking lot and walk south along the road until you pass a house on your right that has what looks like the huge wooden doors of a castle. Continue a bit further down the road, past the house and you'll see a metal gate on your right. The Olmstead Trail starts at that gate and will bring you to the first and second view below if you continue up and around the dirt road. To see the third view below, take the first trail on your left off of the Olmstead Trail - it's no more than 20 feet down the Olmstead Trail and when you reach the end of that trail, you'll see a log to sit on and a dead tree for some shade. For the fourth view, head back to the road and continue south, you'll see it on your right. For the fifth, continue further and take the Inspiration Point Trail. Click HERE for a map of the park and note that the Olmstead Trail starts near the Smuggler's Trail. Approximate hiking distance (roundtrip): 1.5 miles.
Wildwood Regional Park (Thousand Oaks): Park at the main entrance and walk along the Mesa Trail which starts at the posted trail map. About 10 minutes down this trail, take a right onto the Santa Rosa Trail and head up the hill. You'll be walking through the wildflowers seen below until finally you the reach the ridge above. Click HERE for a map of the park. Approximate hiking distance (roundtrip): 1.5 miles.
Chino Hills State Park (Chino Hills): Park on the street just outside of the entrance on Sapphire Road. Hike up the road until you reach a yellow gate on your right (before the big white water tank). Continue onto the dirt road that is beyond the yellow gate. It will veer left and turn into the Bane Ridge Trail. You can find a map of the park HERE. About 10 minutes into the Bane Ridge Trail you'll reach the first fork in the trail and you'll see the flower field in the distance on your right. This is where I can only describe where to go as I saw no other signs. You'll take a right at the fork in the trail which leads to another trail heading down the hill. Continue down this trail until you can take another right to cross the small stream. Then continue on this trail and it will circle around and up a hill and eventually bring you to the same ridge with the flower field you saw earlier (pictured below). Approximate hiking distance (roundtrip): 6 miles.
Walker Canyon (Lake Elsinore): Unlike Chino Hills, this is one is simple. GPS it there, park and start walking up the trail. The flowers are in plain sight. Just remember, the further you go, the less people there will be. Approximate hiking distance (roundtrip): 1 mile.
Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve (Lancaster): Another easy one to get to - GPS it there, park and you'll see exactly where to go. The flowers here are in plain sight as well. Approximate hiking distance (roundtrip): 2 miles.
Wind Wolves Preserve (Bakersfield): On your drive in, you'll get great views of the rolling hills in the distance and the first view below. To see the spot in the other photos, you'll have to park at the main dirt lot and head out onto the San Emigdio Canyon Trail until it reaches the end and intersects with the Reflection Pond Trail. You'll see the flowers on your left when you reach the Reflection Pond Trail and you can head straight up the trail to get a better look. There's not much shade - so make sure to bring sunblock, a hat, plenty of water and some snacks. The San Emigdio Canyon Trail is pretty much flat the entire way and it's only the Reflection Pond Trail that has a bit of an elevation gain. You can find a map of the preserve HERE. Approximate hiking distance (roundtrip): 6 miles.