Most field trips are free and open to all, but read the trip outlines for parking/entrance fees or pass requirements and be sure they fit your physical abilities. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, appropriate trail shoes, a camera, a notepad and lots of enthusiasm. These are CA native plant field trips focused on the interpretation, identification and appreciation of our diverse flora and the ecosystems they support. We use botanical terms, discuss plant communities, plant ecology, invasive plants and especially native plant identification. Past trips are at the end of the list. Questions, leadership opportunities and suggestions should be sent to .
The beautiful forest and mountain meadows of Palomar Mountain State Park are in northern San Diego County on the west side of Palomar Mountain; elevation within the park averages 5,000 feet above sea level. Palomar Mountain is known for its historic telescope, but native plant lovers go for the many species of plants. The area has attracted the finest botanists in California since the early 1900’s. Some plants we will be hoping to see: tall green gentians, fragrant western azaleas, giant chain ferns, and Humboldt lilies thriving in the shade of western dogwood trees. We will be exploring Doane Valley via portions of the Doane Valley Nature, French Valley and Weir Trails.
Meet 9:00 am at the Palomar Mountain State Park entry kiosk (more detailed directions to follow) or 6:30 am at the Bravo Burger parking lot in San Juan Capistrano. Trip leader: Rachel Whitt. State Park parking fee ($10 day use) or annual pass required per vehicle.
Free and open to all. Bring trail shoes, hat, water and lunch. Limited water or restrooms. Physical Difficulty: Moderate. Plant intensity: Moderate to high.Time: All day.
This is one of Southern California’s largest remaining coastal estuaries and supports a diverse range of native plants and unique plant communities. We will walk along a portion of Back Bay Drive pointing out and discussing many of the unique salt marsh and coastal bluff plants. Even in summer there are always a diverse assemblage of flowering shrubs to see, many of which are only found in maritime salt marsh areas. Meet 9 am at the large parking lot at the intersection of Back Bay Drive and Big Canyon. Directions: From Jamboree Road, go .25 miles West on San Joaquin Hills Road and turn right on Back Bay Drive. Go exactly .45 miles to the first and only parking area on your left. No restrooms or water. Leader: Jonathan Frank.
Free and open to all. Physical Difficulty: Easy. Plant Intensity: Moderate, with many specialties. Time: Approx. 2-3 hours
Join OC CNPS and Dan Songster for a fall tour and discussion of the extensive native garden at Golden West College. Conceived in the mid 1970’s, the garden really became established in the early 1990’s. The collection is one of Orange County’s best examples of the use of native plants in both ornamental and habitat style landscapes. Dan Songster, OC CNPS Chapter President, and a founder of the Golden West College Native Garden, will be our host and guide showing both the Garden’s successes and failures. The garden features over an acre of native plants and is divided into plant communities based upon soil and water requirements, and despite the predominance of heavy clay soils, thrives.
Examples of juvenile and mature plants are seen side by side (most fairly common and some rare), arranged in eight different habitats from throughout the state. The space also includes a greenhouse, a 30-seat amphitheater, and a water settling area. For more information about the garden including directions, check out http://www.goldenwestcollege.edu/garden/visiting/.
Leader: Dan Songster. We will meet at the garden entrance at 9AM. Due to the weekend swap meet in the parking lot nearest the garden, we will be parking at the north end of the Gothard Street Parking lot. Volunteers will walk you across the campus to the Garden itself.
Free and open to all. Physical difficulty: Easy. Plant Intensity: Moderate. Time: Approx. 2-3 hours.
O’Neill Regional Park in Trabuco Canyon has grown to nearly 4,000 acres in the last few years. This is a fun, family-oriented, casual field trip; the time of year to enjoy fall color, nature, plant seeds, and camaraderie of great people enjoying the outdoors. We will be walking out and back about 1.2 miles each way along the relatively flat Arroyo Trabuco Trail. Many birds and other creatures can be spotted in the Sycamores, Oaks and other plants along the way. Possibility for the group to explore a little farther. Meet 8:00 AM at Oak Grove parking lot by the Interpretive Center. There are restrooms at the west end of the parking lot. OC Parks Annual Pass or $5 Entry Fee required. Field trip free and open to all. Bring trail shoes, hat, sunscreen, camera, binoculars, water and lunch if desired (many picnic tables available.) Water and restrooms at Oak Grove parking lot. Leader: Rachel Whitt.
Free and open to all. This trip does require payment of an entrance fee to O'Neill Park or an OC Parks Pass. (more info.) Physical Difficulty: Easy plus. Plant Intensity: Low to moderate. Time: Approx. 3 hours.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: This trip has changed location.
Hwy 74 is currently closed to all traffic in both directions. We will be visiting Harding Canyon instead. The start time remains at 9 AM.
We will head UP the Harding Truck Trail/Road, then drop down into Harding Canyon. The climb up is about .5 miles and the trail down is about 300-400 meters. There ARE wet spots. Hiking boots are best, but tennis shoes are possible. The trail in the canyon is rocky and rutted, so be prepared. You WILL get your feet wet, esp. if you decide to cross the creek, which is flowing strong. The scenery is great!
Meet at 9 AM at the trailhead, which is off the Ortega Highway (SR 74), 19.5 miles from the San Diego Freeway. Once in the parking lot we will meet on the east (right side), just across the road from the famous Candy Store. Parking here does require a USFS Adventure Pass! (more info.) We recommend that you purchase the pass in advance from Big 5, Sport Chalet, REI, or most large sports retailers, since the Candy Store will not be open when we arrive. Leader: Paul Wilson.
Free and open to all. Physical difficulty: Easy to Moderate. Limited water or restrooms. Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, notepad and water. A magnifying glass is highly recommended. Trip time: approximately three hours. Plant intensity: Medium to high.
FEB 11 FINAL UPDATE:
Directions were a bit confusing. We will meet at the end of Park Avenue, which is the street directly in front of Aliso-Viejo Middle School, which abuts Aliso-Viejo Community Park. The address is 111 Park Avenue, Aliso Viejo.
From Aliso Viejo Parkway, take Cedarbrook Road to the South and follow it about .75 miles until it deads ends in front of the school.
See you tomorrow! The ground will be wet from the rain, but the plants and area will be spectacular, although still rather "green" this early in the season. Tennis shows OK, but expect wet feet.
Fossil Reef is a very unique 17 million year old preserved portion of a formerly submerged tropical reef. It is a tropical shell reef associated with fossil rich beach sand. 48 species of fossil marine vertebrates have been recorded from here. Extending for six miles across the Saddleback Valley, this unusual limestone deposit is also found on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, San Clemente Island, Santa Catalina Island, and in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. The exposures here represent the ocean floor, as it existed 17 million years ago. The reef is unique, as it is part of an ancient sea floor that has been exposed by tectonic uplift and weathering processes. This uplift also formed the Santa Ana Mountains and the San Joaquin Hills. The marine muds, that later covered the limestone, contain plankton fossils, shark teeth, fish bones, marine mammal bones, and seaweed imprints – and a large baleen whale was collected nearby in 1981. Botanically, the unique geology and limestone soil supports Orange County’s only small colony of Astragalus pomonensis. We will search for plants in the unique area and see what we can turn up. Meet 9 AM on the street in front of Aliso Viejo Middle School, which is adjacent to Aliso Viejo Community Park. Google Maps works best as 1111 Park Avenue, Aliso Viejo. From there we will walk a short distance to the field trip/reef area. Leaders: Jonathan Frank and Ron Vanderhoff.
Free and open to all. Physical difficulty: Easy, with relatively short walking distances and easy terrain. Plant Intensity: Light. Time: Approx. 2 hours.
2-16 UPDATE: Due to weather, this trip has been cancelled.
For this trip we will hike the Harding truck trail, passing multiple plant communities including coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and oak/ash dominated woodland. Early wildflowers should be plentiful along with extensive colonies of blooming Ceanothus spinosus (greenbark ceanothus) and Ceanothus crassifolius (hoaryleaf ceanothus) as well as the beautiful deep rose pink flower of Ribes malvaceum var. viridifolium. Bonus, if we could find the elusive black sage x chia sage hybrid, three of which have been found in this area in the past year. Leader: Jonathan Frank.
Free and open to all. Physical Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous. Meet 8 AM at the parking lot area adjacent to The Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, 29322 Modjeska Canyon Road. Water and restrooms at beginning only. Plant Intensity: moderate to high. Time: 3-4 hours or more depending on the group. Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, wildflower book/notepad, water and lug-soled hiking shoes/boots.
2-25 UPDATE: The weather is expected to be a mix of sunshine and clouds with mild temperatures (highs in mid 60's) and light winds. A shower is possible, but no significant rain is likely. We are a bit early for heavy bloom, but we do have reports from several people of flowers at scatterred locations. We will follow those reports and decide on the specific stops in the morning. See you tomorrow! Bring snacks, water, a sack lunch and your enthusiasm.
Anza-Borrego is California’s largest State Park and is rich in botanical treasures, especially spring wildflowers. Desert bloom is always a very unpredictable thing, with blooms varying in timing, location and intensity every year and even from week to week. Please visit this site regularly for any date changes on this trip. Meet promptly at 6:30 am at Bravo Burger parking lot or meet at the Anza-Borrego Visitors Center at 9 am. The Visitor’s Center is located at 200 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs. $10 donation to OC CNPS requested. This will be a caravan-type trip, as we follow the bloom around the park. We will drive from location-to-location, usually parking along the shoulders of the road, according to where we get reports of the best bloom and plants. Each stop will provide ample time to explore, identify and photograph the flora.
Leaders: Diane Etchison and Rachel Whitt.
Free and open to all. Physical difficulty: Easy to moderate. Plant Intensity: Uncertain, depending upon the year. Time: All day.
The Orange County Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, and the Irvine Ranch Conservancy invite you to join them from 10am-2pm as they celebrate Orange County native wildflowers at the Conservancy’s native seed farm. This event is a great way to learn more about OC CNPS, IRC, and the work each organization is doing to conserve, protect, and restore native wildflowers in Orange County. The 8-acre native seed farm currently grows 45 local plant species, each providing seed used to support ecological restoration locally. Expect many of them to be in full bloom for this event, which will be opened by brief presentations from OC CNPS and Conservancy staff, followed by a picnic lunch. After lunch, guests are invited to stroll the grounds at their own pace, or join a guided walking tour, on which they’ll learn about some of the amazing local flora being grown on the farm. OC CNPS will also be presenting on various local engagement opportunities, including information about field trips and their upcoming native garden tour. If you enjoy native wildflowers, good people, and outdoor fun, this event is for you! Parking is limited and carpooling is recommended. Please RSVP at www.letsgooutside.org.
UPDATE: The forest service gate will likely be closed, due to road conditions further down the way. However, it is a short walk to the edge of the former burn area. The weather looks great. See you Sunday.
Most everyone who enjoys the outdoors in Orange County also knows Silverado Canyon, one of the deepest and longest canyons in the Santa Ana Mountains. On this trip we will explore much of the area that was burned in a 1,600 acre fire during Sept. of 2014. Annuals wildflowers have been abundant here over the past two springs, but are now giving way to successional herbs and shrubs. From the base in Silverado Canyon, we will hike up the switchbacks of the old fire road as far as the group decides, perhaps all the way to Bedford Peak (3,800 feet) at about 3.5 miles with a 1,900 foot elevation gain. Along the way, expect to see early spring wildflowers such as Phacelia, Eucrypta, Lupinus, etc. Also expect an abundance of showy Penstemon and bush poppy (Dendromecon rigida) towards the end of our hike.
Meet 8 am at the large Forest Service gate at the far end of Silverado Canyon Road. (5.75 miles off Santiago Cyn. Rd.). Leader: Jonathan Frank.
Free and open to all. This trip does require a USFS Adventure Pass! (more info.) Physical Difficulty: Strenuous. Plant Intensity: Medium. Time: 3-5 hours.
A Friday trip! Between Silverado Canyon and Black Star Canyon, Baker Canyon is a very special place, well insulated and protected from much of the outside world. A part of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmark, it is off limits to most public access, except for a few days each year, so this is a special opportunity to explore an excellent natural area with other like-minded people. Enjoy views of the Santa Ana Mountains, as well the wildflowers and plants of oak-shaded Baker Canyon and the ridges above as you learn why so many different plants and animals call this place home. Plants that may be blooming at this time of year include 3 types of Ceanothus, Fritillaria biflora (Chocolate Lily) and Harpagonella palmeri (Palmer's Grapplinghook). This will be a 3-4 mile loop hike beginning with a gradual climb to a final elevation of 1370 ft. (elevation gain about 460 ft.), with beautiful views at the top. This event requires reservations made through the IRC website: http://letsgooutside.org/. Check the website 1-2 months prior to the event to book your reservation. There is a cap on the number of participants, first come-first serve. Leader: Diane Etchison.
Free and open to all, but RSVP is required (see above). Physical Difficulty: Moderate. Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, wildflower book/notepad, water and hiking shoes/boots.Trip time: approximately three hours. No water or restrooms. Plant intensity: Medium.
3-18 UPDATE: With the good rainfall this winter, this trip should be a good one.
Elsinore Peak is the southern most of the Santa Ana Mountain peaks and offers an unusual habitat of grasslands with some coastal sage scrub and chaparral. The area near the peak is further unique due to its volcanic history and unusual foundation of basalt rock. The specific stops for our visit will depend upon current conditions and the season’s unpredictable bloom, but we may explore the area just below the peak for spring wildflowers (Fritillaria biflora, Ranunculus, Goldfields, Alliums, Calochortus, Clarkia, Collinsia, Popcorn Flowers, Monkeyflowers, Lupines, Peonies, Sanicula and more). For a list of species seen in the Elsinore Peak vicinity, click here.
Afterward, we will almost certainly visit a site or two along S. Main Divide Road of the 2013 “Falls” fire. A couple of years ago, this was a highlight of Spring, with large displays of fire-following plants, including thousands of Fire poppies - Papaver californicum, Chorizanthe, Delphinium, Penstemons, Caulanthus, Emmenanthe, Lupinus and many others. It is interesting to see the succession of plants following this fire. Meet 8 AM at the parking lot at Bravo Burgers, 31722 Rancho Viejo Rd., San Juan Capistrano (just off Hwy 74 near Int. 5). Free and open to all. Bring trail shoes, hat, sunscreen, water and lunch if desired. Leader: Ron Vanderhoff. This trip does require a USFS Adventure Pass!
Free and open to all. Physical Difficulty: Moderate. No water or restrooms. Plant Intensity: Moderate to high, especially wildflowers. Time: Approx. 3 hours or more depending on the group.
3-25 UPDATE: This trip is "go" for tomorrow.
The trip is now filled. Additional RSVP's will be placed on a waiting list and will be notified in the event of a cancellation. Please be reminded that this trip DOES include hiking on sometimes rough and rocky terrain. Expect about four trail miles. During a visit on 3-9 we found that the last mile of the trail is nearly washed away and includes navigating the rocky, gravelly creekbed. Please be sure this meets your abilities and expectations.
A very special trip into one of the most biologically rich areas of The Santa Ana Mountains and Chino Hills State Park. With assistance from Chino Hills State Park our group will be given special access to the Coal Canyon Trailhead. This will remove the two mile walk along the bike trail that is usually required for this visit. Once we enter the locked gate at the Coal Canyon trailhead we will provide the group some orientation and an overview of the area. Then we will hike up the canyon on Big Mo Trail, discussing the canyon and its special biology as we go, pointing out some of the interesting plants. Coal Canyon is a special place and is host to several rare plants, including Braunton’s milkvetch (Astragalus brauntonii), Tecate cypress (Hesperocyparis forbesii), Catalina mariposa lily (Calochortus catalinae) and chaparral beargrass (Nolina cismontana). We will be accompanied by a CA State Parks staff member and an interpretive docent.
Expect to see a large variety of plants. At least 147 species have been recorded in the canyon and adjoining ridges. For a PDF list of the species click here.
This trip is strictly limited to the first 20 people. RSVP to . Details to the 8 AM meeting location will be sent to the RSVP’s. Free and open to all. Bring trail shoes, hat, sunscreen, water and lunch if desired. Leader: Ron Vanderhoff.
Free and open to all, but RSVP required and space is limited. Physical Difficulty: Moderate, but with lots of rocky, sandy and boulder strewn areas. Expect about four to five miles on the trail. No water or restrooms. Plant Intensity: Moderate to high. Time: Approx. 3 hours or more depending on the group.
3-11 UPDATE: This trip is full. Additional RSVP's will be placed on a waiting list and will be notified in the order taken in the event of a cancellation.
Zach Principe, ecologist with The Nature Conservancy, will lead this amazing trip to this restricted-entry area of the Santa Rosa Plateau, an area managed as a reserve by The Nature Conservancy. Zach refers us to Tom Chester's website - Field Guide To the Santa Rosa Plateau, as a good information source for the field trip, including for a list of plant species. Zachary Principe is an ecologist with The Nature Conservancy. He earned an M.S. in Ecology at San Diego State University. For the past 18 years, he has worked for The Nature Conservancy. For seven years he worked as an ecologist at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve. More recently, he assisted with the establishment and management of the Ramona Grasslands Preserve in San Diego County. Currently, his work is focused in Kern and Orange Counties. In Kern County his work focuses on conservation and land management in the Tehachapi and southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. In Orange County his work is focused on ecological monitoring and management of open space lands at the urban interface to ensure they are able to function for the native plants and animals they are designed to protect.
With luck (and rain willing), this trip will include visits to two or three protected vernal pools, which hold an assembledge of rare, beautiful and specialized plants, including two species of Downingia, Blennosperma nanum, Brodiaeas, Eryngium aristulatum var. parishii, Euphorbia spathulata, Isoetes howellii, Muilla maritima, Myosurus minimus, Orcuttia californica and Pilularia Americana. We will walk a portion of the very healthy and diverse grasslands and discuss the ecology of the area and the plants present.
This trip is strictly limited to no more than the first 20 CNPS members. We are limited to a maximum of three 4-wheel drive vehicles. CNPS members RSVP to . Send names of attendees, contact information and whether you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle and are willing to shuttle other members when at the Reserve. Details to the 9 AM meeting location will be sent to the RSVP’s. Bring trail shoes, hat, sunscreen, water and lunch. Leader: Zach Principe, The Nature Conservancy.
Physical Difficulty: Moderate. No water or restrooms. Plant Intensity: High. Time: Approx. 4-5 hours, depending on the group.
Free and open to all. Physical Difficulty: Easy. Water and restroom available. Plant Intensity: Moderate to high. Time: Approx. 2 hours.
4-8 UPDATE: We are all set for tomorrow. The weather should be excellent. Plan on a finish at about 2:30 PM. Remember, lunch is provided, but bring a snack if you wish.
Dr. Jutta Burger, Senior Field Ecologist from the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, will once again offer CNPS a special trip through the natural areas of The Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. CNPS members will receive a rare glimpse of the plants and spring bloom on these lands – including some of OC’s most important and best protected natural resources. This is a driving tour, on conservancy vehicles, along uneven dirt roads. This year’s visit will begin with a drive up Agua Chinon and a visit to Box Springs, where we will also allow those interested to do the one mile loop trail. Then, we will drive on to the beautiful “sinks”, and from there on to Hangman's Road and towards Santiago Creek, before returning to our starting point. Wildflowers should be well represented (rain permitting) and docents from the Conservancy will be on hand to discuss some of the interesting geology, fauna and other features.
This is an all-day trip. Portable restroom availability at beginning and end only. CNPS members RSVP to .; first 20 will be confirmed. This trip is available to CNPS members only, is a limited attendance and does require registration.
Physical Difficulty: Easy, but includes lots of bouncing around on rough dirt roads. Short to moderate walking distances. Includes lunch. Plant Intensity: Moderate to high, especially wildflowers. Time: Approx. 6-7 hours.
4-12 UPDATE: There is still time to RSVP and join us for this private botanical tour of one of California's most incredible natural areas. Email .
Assisted by Nick Jensen, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont. Encompassing an area of 270,000 acres or 420 square miles, the Tejon Ranch occupies one of the most interesting and complex ecological areas in California. As a result of its unique position at the confluence of four floristic regions, Tejon Ranch is an area of ecological transitions, interesting assemblages of plants from seemingly disparate regions, and quite possibly a whole host of undescribed species, new to science.
As a private, working cattle ranch since the 1840s, Tejon Ranch was almost entirely closed to scientific research until 2008 when the Tejon Ranch Conservancy was created. Under this landmark deal, approximately 100,000 acres of the ranch were placed under conservation easements, and an additional 140,000 acres were reserved from the potential of future development. This amounts to approximately 90% of the ranch being conserved for future generations. As a result of the creation of the Tejon Ranch Conservancy, the ranch is now effectively “open” for scientific research.
Nick Jensen, of The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, will be our guide for this amazing botanical trip. The goal of Nick’s research at the ranch is to perform a floristic survey leading to a better understanding of the plants on the property and the adjacent ecological regions.
We will meet on the mornings of April 15 at 9 AM at the Tejon Ranch Conservancy offices at 1037 Bear Trap Rd. in Lebec (map to follow for registered attendees). We will then head out to the field for the day, focusing on whichever areas of the ranch Nick thinks are of interest at that time. On Sunday, we will finish up at approximately 2:30 PM.
There are many hotels/motels and restaurants in the Lebec area for those staying overnight. There is also a grassy area to car camp on the San Joaquin side of the ranch, with water and porta-potties available. No campfires. Please let us know if you intend to camp and we will provide additional details. Finally, there are no pets permitted on the ranch.
Physical Difficulty: moderate. Plant Intensity: High. Additional details will be sent to those that RSVP.
Trip will be limited to the first 19 people to RSVP to field. Please let us know if your plans change so we can add other people from the wait list. $40 fee collected will be used to support the Tejon Ranch Conservancy.
4-22 UPDATE: This trip is final for tommorrow morning. The weather is expected to cool slightly, so it should be ideal conditions. This is a walking/hiking trip and the scenary and vistas are exceptional. We will be walking through a combination of open rolling grasslands and beautiful oak woodlands. Expect about 3-4 miles of trail.
Oak Flat (actually a series of several flats) is at the Western edge of The San Mateo Canyon Wilderness and accessed by a locked/private gate off Hwy 74. This seldom visited area is a spectacular oasis of grasslands surrounded by beautiful, mature live oak woodlands. A very picturesque area of beautiful, mostly rolling hills that few people ever have an opportunity to experience. Special access to the area will be granted for this group of CNPS members and their guests. We will walk the grasslands and a portion of the oak woodlands, probably in a loop, as we search for Spring wildflowers and other interesting plants. Meet 8 AM in the parking lot at Bravo Burgers, 31722 Rancho Viejo Rd., San Juan Capistrano (just off Hwy 74 near I-5). Free and open to all. Bring trail shoes, hat, sunscreen, water and lunch if desired. No water or restrooms. Leader: Ron Vanderhoff.
Free and open to all. Physical Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous, depending upon how far we go. Plant Intensity: Moderate. Approx. 3 hours.
O’Neill Park in Trabuco Canyon has grown to nearly 4,000 acres in the last few years. We will begin with the Edna Spaulding Trail – an almost 1 mile single track loop with a couple of steeper, uneven areas. Heading back we intersect the Live Oak Trail hiking up some strenuous sections with steps. This meets up with Coyote Canyon Trail roughly .5 mile easy downhill then Coyote Trail another .5 mile of moderate, uneven trail and back to the parking lot for a total of about 4-5 miles. We will likely see Bloomerias, SIlenes, Prickly Phlox, possibly Calochortus, and many other Chaparral, Coastal Sage Scrub and Oak Woodland blooming plants. Meet 8 AM at the Oak Grove parking lot by the Interpretive Center. There are restrooms at the west end of the parking lot. OC Parks Annual Pass (more info.) or $5 Entry Fee required. Field trip free and open to all. Bring hiking poles, camera, trail shoes, hat, sunscreen, water and lunch if desired (many picnic tables around parking lots). Water and restrooms at Oak Grove parking lot. Leader: Rachel Whitt.
Free and open to all. Physical Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous. Plant Intensity: Moderate to high. The trip does require payment of an entrance fee to O'Neill Park or an OC Park Pass. (more info.) Approx. 3 hours.
5-13 UPDATE: We are all set for tomorrow. Meeting locations and times are below.
The Ramona Grasslands Preserve is a 3,490-acre area near the city of Ramona in San Diego County that was opened to the public in 2011. It is home to 409 plant species (16 special status), and 217 wildlife species (40 special status). The area includes a significant section of the remaining undeveloped portion of the Santa Maria Creek watershed, and contains unique vernal pools, vernal swales, and alkali playas. We will meet at 9 AM in the parking lot. We will do a 3.5-mile loop hike on easy terrain, with additional options toward the end. Physical difficulty: moderate. Plant intensity: moderate: Time : about 4 hours. Leaders: Diane Etchison and Rachel Whitt.
Directions - Take I-5 south to Hwy 78 (Exit 51B). Turn right towards Escondido. Travel about 16 miles, and merge onto I-15 (Exit 17A) going south toward San Diego. After traveling about 6 miles, take Exit 26 for W Bernardo Dr./Pomerado Rd. Turn right, cross back over I-15, and follow Pomerado Rd about 0.4 miles. Turn left onto Highland Valley Road. Continue on this winding road about 10 miles until you see the sign for the entrance to the Ramona Grasslands Preserve on the left (about 1 mile past Archie Moore Rd. on the right).
Alternatively, you may meet 7:30 AM at the parking lot at Bravo Burgers, 31722 Rancho Viejo Rd., San Juan Capistrano (just off Hwy 74 near Int. 5). Free and open to all. Bring trail shoes, hat, sunscreen, water and lunch if desired.
For any that might be interested, we will do an optional post-field trip visit to a section of the San Dieguito River, just west of Lake Hodges. It is just below the dam and about 15 miles due west of the Ramona Grasslands, so sort of on the way home. This is an area of very rich and diverse plants; a blend of coastal sage scrub and chaparral with a riparian corridor. Several San Diego specialties grow here and the scenery is nice too.
Free and open to all. Plant intensity: High. Physical Difficulty: Moderate. Approx. 4 hours.
5-26 UPDATE: The weather should be great! See you Sunday morning.
Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park is a popular hiking and biking destination with its mix of riparian and oak woodland canyons, rolling grassland hills and steep slopes of coastal sage scrub and chaparral. The park is highlighted by scenic rock formations, intermittent streams and in spring, beautiful wildflowers. We will begin on the Borrego trail, walking through a riparian and oak corridor to the red rock trail. From there we will hike up the Billy Goat trail to witness the colorful display of Calochortus weedii var. intermedius before looping back towards the entrance. Meet 8 AM at the parking lot next to Ralphs ($3.00 parking fee) off Portola Pkwy. Leaders: Jonathan Frank and Ron Vanderhoff.
Free and open to all. Physical Difficulty: moderate; we will decide upon the final distance and route as a group, but plan on up to four or five miles. Limited water or restrooms. Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, wildflower book/notepad, water and hiking shoes/boots. This trip does require payment of a day use fee to Or an OC Parks Pass. (more info.) Trip time: approximately four hours. Plant intensity: Medium.
6-10 FINAL UPDATE: We are all set for tomorrow. We will see you either at the Park-and-Ride in Orange at 6:30 AM or at the Bluff Lake parking lot at 9:00 AM. It is likely to be a bit cool tomorrow and maybe a little breezy too, so dress warmly.
The Big Bear area has a wealth of interesting plants that are unique to high elevations. This is a great area to visit in the summer after wildflowers in Orange County have faded from the heat. Bluff Lake, located at 7,600 ft, is a 20-acre lake and meadow, with majestic outcrops of quartz monzonite. The reserve includes an intact mountain marsh and meadow complex that contains federally threatened Bear Valley bluegrass (Poa atropurpurea), the federally endangered Big Bear Checkerbloom (Sidalcea pedata) and California dandelion (Taraxacum californicum). Botanically the meadow is remarkable, with 16 species of sedges (Carex), 8 species of wire grass (Juncus) and 14 species of native grass. Mature forests of lodgepole pine, Jeffrey pine, and white fir surround the meadow. This will be a full day and following Bluff Lake we plan to visit the remarkable Baldwin Lake pebble plains area, home of the Federaly listed Ashy grey paintbrush (Castilleja cinerea), Southern mountain buckwheat (Eriogonum kennedyi var. austromontanum) and many others. Time depending, we may make another stop in Cushenbury Canyon.
Please note that we will be joined on this trip by several other CNPS members from around the state who are attending a statewide Chapter Council meeting hosted by the Riverside/San Bernardino Chapter.
Leader: Diane Etchison. Meet at 6:30 at the Caltrans Park-and-Ride Lot at 2555 Tustin Avenue, Orange (SE corner of Lincoln Ave. and Tustin Ave.). Do not be late - we will be leaving promptly at 6:30 AM. Or meet at the Bluff Lake parking lot at 9 AM (directions below). Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, notepad, water and hiking shoes/boots.. The drive time is approximately 2 to 2.5 hours one-way. Plant intensity: High. Physical Difficulty: Moderate
Directions to Bluff Lake
Take Hwy 91 to I-215N/Riverside Fwy. After 6.7 miles, merge onto Hwy 210 toward Highland/Hwy-330. After 4.6 miles, take Hwy 330 toward Big Bear. Shortly after passing Running Springs, merge onto Hwy 18 toward Big Bear. At the west end of Big Bear Lake, Hwy 18 becomes Big Bear Blvd. After passing Boulder Bay begin to look for Mill Creek Rd on the right, and turn right. When you see Aspen Glen Picnic Area on the left, stop here briefly -- this will be your last chance for a restroom break. There are no porta-potties at Bluff Lake. Continue south on Mill Creek Rd. At Oak Knoll Lodge, turn south on Forest Service Road 2N10. After 1.2 miles the pavement ends and becomes an improved dirt road (passenger car-accessible, but very rutty). Follow the 2N10 another 2.6 miles to the junction with 2N86 and bear left, following the sign that says: "<---Bluff Lake Reserve." In approximately 1/2 mile, look for the sign on the right" "Bluff Lake Reserve 1/2" and turn right on the access road and proceed 1.2 miles to the main parking area. Be aware that although the road is suitable for passenger cars, it is quite rutted.
Free and open to all. Plant intensity: High. Physical Difficulty: Moderate. All day.
6-17 UPDATE: We are all set for tomorrow. Remember, we are meeting in the free parking lot on the INLAND side of PCH, about midway between Seapoint Street and Warner Avenue.
Bolsa Chica is one of Orange County’s most significant open spaces, with a unique collection of habitats including sand dunes, salt marsh, coastal sage scrub, freshwater wetlands, riparian woodlands and native grasslands. The reserve is a dynamic ecosystem supporting not only a variety of interesting and highly adapted plants, but a large assortment of invertebrates, fish, birds (321 species) and other wildlife. Of course, non-native plants have been introduced into the ecology here and they will also be pointed out and discussed during our visit.
David Pryor, Senior Scientist with The Bolsa Chica Conservancy and retired CA State Parks biologist will lead this trip, which will preceed the publication of a new booklet, The Plants of Bolsa Chica.
We will walk the Loop Trail, which crosses a wooden bridge, passes two overlooks, and returns to the parking lot via a sand-dune trail paralleling PCH. However, at the half-way point we will divert a little and visit the edge of a riparian community and maybe the upper mesa area. Meet 9 am at the South Lot. This parking area is our starting point and is located on Pacific Coast Highway on the inland side almost directly across PCH from the Bolsa Chica State Beach entrance. There is no charge for parking. Leaders: David Pryor and Ron Vanderhoff
Free and open to all. Physical Difficulty: Easy. We will be walking on level, mostly paved trails during the trip. Porta-potties are only at the beginning and end. Bring your own water, hat, comfortable shoes and possibly binoculars. Time: About 3 hours. Plant intensity: Moderate.