The Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve (SRPER) encompasses approximately 9000 acres of Southern California's most floristically and geologically diverse and unique areas. It is home to 49 endangered, threatened or rare species including Engelmann Oaks, Badgers and Western Pond Turtles. On this sunny, hot yet breezy day, about 30 native plant and hiking enthusiasts eventually met up at the (SRPER) Visitor’s Center. We then headed up to the Vernal Pool parking area. From there began the five miles plus field trip after co-leaders Ron Vanderhoff and Rachel Whitt gave a brief orientation.
We paused for a while on the boardwalk of the Main Vernal Pool (one of 13 on the SRPER) while a Hammond's two-striped garter snake posed on a rock for photo opportunities. From here we also enjoyed panoramic views of Mt. Palomar, Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio while contemplating the unique ecology of vernal pools and geology of the area.
We continued on the trail down to the Historic Adobes and took a side trip to see Dodecatheon clevelandii ssp. clevelandii (Shooting Stars.) After returning to the Historic Adobes for a relaxing lunch in the shade, we navigated our way back to the parking lot via the Trans-Preserve Trail; enjoying picturesque views and intermittent shade of Engelmann Oaks. A good time was had by all; what a wonderful way to spend Valentine’s Day.