2019 Field Trips
We are currently planning our 2020 trip schedule. Check back soon.
We welcome your input and help. If you would like to suggest a trip, help organize a trip, know of a special place or person or assist in other way please contact us at . These great trips only happen because of great volunteers - like you.
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 learn about the plants, 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 .
Trips change. Always check this page after 7 PM the evening before a trip for updates. Rain cancels.
Santiago Oaks Regional Parks Fall Trip – Sun, Nov 17
UPDATE 11-6: Change of plans! This trip was originally planned for Falls Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains, However, the Cleveland National Forest has extended the forest closure following the 2018 Holy Fire through October, 2020. That's OK, we will move our trip to beautiful Santiago Oaks Regionasl Park in Orange. See below.
We will hope for clear fall skies and brisk fall temperatures as we celebrate the colors, fragrances and seasonal changes, right here in Orange County.
This will be a leisurely walk among the beautiful oaks and sycamores and then across a couple of fall-flavored hillsides. We will enjoy the plants and pause often to talk about their interesting lives at this time of year: the various fruits and seeds that feed our wildlife and propage their future generations. We will visit the historal stone dam as we venture along Santiago Creek and beyong. Then, we will turn back, but follow a different path, as we wander through the coastal sage scrub, also stopping to share stories of these plants' adaptations and interesting ecologies. Maybe we will even play a couple of nature games.
Fall is always a special time in Southern California, with its warm light, falling leaves, interesting fragrances, morning chill and gentle moods. A new season of growth lies just ahead and the plants can almost sense it. This will be a relaxing trip. over a fairly short distance and at a meandering pace, suitable for almost all ages and abilities. Plan on a couple of miles, maybe three, but if you tire it is an easy walk back.
Meet at 8 AM in the main parking lot at Santiago Oaks Regional Park, 2145 Windes Drive, Orange. This is about 10 minutes from the 55 Freeway at the Katella offramp. Free and open to all, but there is a $5 per vehicle entrance fee at the park (or an OC Parks Annual Pass). Bring trail shoes or good sneakers, hat, sunscreen, water and a camera. Restrooms at beginning and end only. Leader: Ron Vanderhoff.
Physical Difficulty: Easy to moderate. Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, wildflower book/notepad, water and good walking shoes of boots. Time: Approx. 3 hours..
San Jacinto Mountains – Sun, July 21 Tentative
UPDATE 7-16: We are sad to report that this trip has been cancelled. We will try to do it again next year. Complications with permits and access forced this decision.
More details soon.
The general idea is to head up the aerial tram on the East side of the San Jacinto Mountains to the 8,000 foot area and spend the day botanizing the montane forests, meadows and ponds. Once there, we are working with State Parks biologist to gain special access to specific rare plant locations.
We believe we will have a CA State Park biologist leading the trip and discussing the habitats, restoration and plants. Stay tuned for more details.
Santiago Oaks Regional Park – Sun, June 16
UPDATE 6-14: Unfortunately, Jonathan Frank, our trip leader, has developed a cold,and is unable to lead this trip. This trip is cancelled.Santiago Oaks is a regional park within the city of Orange in the foothills of the northern Santa Ana mountains. Consisting of riparian, oak woodland, and coastal sage scrub plant communities, this park has a wealth of botanical wonders. In 2017 the park was nearly completely burned in the Canyon 2 fire and is still in active recovery. Most of the trails are now open and we will explore a series of these that loop around the park, exploring the changing topography and geology. Wildflowers should be abundant with vast showings of the stunning Weed’s intermediate mariposa lily (Calochortus weedii var. intermedius), golden stars (Bloomeria crocea var. crocea), and morning glory (Calystegia spp.) among others. We should also be able to carefully check out the population of the uncommon succulent Dudleya multicaulus scattered among the rocky outcrops. With gorgeous views every which way, this wildflower hike is one not be missed. Meet 8 AM in the parking lot. Parking is at the paid ($5 admission) lot at the end of Wendes Dr. as you turn right from E. Santiago Canyon Rd. Leader: Jonathan Frank.
Physical Difficulty: Moderate. Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, wildflower book/notepad, water and hiking shoes/boots. Water and restrooms near the parking/start areas only. Plant Intensity: moderate. Time: Approx. 3-4 hours depending on the group.
Temple Hill and Hobo Ridge from Moulton Meadows Park – Sun, June 2
UPDATE 6-1, 7PM: The weather should be perfect and the recent rain and cool spring should make for a great trip.
A great walk with great views along a portion of the Southern Ridge of Aliso Canyon. Experience a unique but rapidly diminishing coastal chaparral plant community with lots of specialties like Comarostaphylos (summer holly), Ceanothus megacarpus (big pod manzanita), Adenostoma fasciculatum var. obtusifoloium (San Diego Chamise) and a rare population of Verbesina dissita (big-leaf crown beard). We will begin at Moulton Meadows Park and proceed south along the ridge trail towards Temple hill.
Meet 9 AM Moulton Meadows Park in south Laguna Beach. Take South Coast Hwy to Nyes Pl., turning left on Balboa Ave until you reach the park. Street parking is free along Balboa Drive (Map). Bring comfortable shoes, water, camera, hat, notepad and enthusiasm. The new book Wildflowers of Orange County and the Santa Ana Mountains is a great field guide for this trip, bring it along. Leader: Jonathan Frank.
Physical Difficulty: Moderate, but steep, rocky sections. The total trip is only about 2.5 miles, but there are two or three areas that are steep, uneven, rocky and easy to slip - more of a rut than a trail. If you have trouble going up or down 200 meter inclines you will have trouble. Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, wildflower book/notepad, water and hiking shoes/boots. Water and restrooms at the parking/start area only. Plant Intensity: moderate to high. Time: Approx. 3 hours or more depending on the group.
O'Neill Regional Park – Sun, May 26
UPDATE 5-25 3:30 PM: Cancelled. Unfortunately, the probability of rain has been increasing over the past 24-48 hours. Sorry, but enjoy your holiday weekend!
Join us for an invigorating morning exploring one of Orange County’s most stunning regional parks nestled in the foothills of the Santa Ana mountains. Encompassing 4,500 acres of extensive oak woodland and coastal sage scrub habitats, the park hosts a wide diversity of plant life including the whimsical chaparral beargrass (Nolina cismontana) and amazing wildflower displays in the spring.
Meet 8 AM at the trailhead. After entering the park at the main entrance kiosks off Live Oak Canyon Rd, stay on the right on the paved road to the end of the parking area where we will meet at the beginning of the Live Oak Trail. We will then follow a series of trails including the Live Oak, Coyote Canyon and Vista trails as they loop back towards the Hoffmann Homestead Trail. The highlight of this path is the abandoned home site of the Hoffmann family and the numerous ornamentals and succulents still surviving and sometimes thriving here. Leader: Jonathan Frank.
Physical Difficulty: Moderate. This trip does require a $5 entrance fee to the Park or an OC Parks Annual Pass. Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, wildflower book/notepad, water and hiking shoes/boots. Bring an optional sack lunch and have a picnic on the nearby tables and benches following the trip. Water and restrooms near the parking/start area only. Plant Intensity: moderate. Time: Approx. 3 hours or more depending on the group.
Crystal Cove State Park, the Coast with Dave Pryor – Sun, May 12
UPDATE 5-10: We should miss any rain on Sunday. In fact, the weather should be nice. See you Sunday!
The exact route will be a last minute decision, based upon where the best plants are, but may include a bit of the beach, some blufftop and even a quick visit to the inland side of the park. From the parking area we may do a beach loop to look for springtime bluff face and beach color and other plants like Aphanisma, Lycium, Abronia, Physalis and the only OC occurence of Pholistoma racemosum - San Diego fiesta flower. Or maybe we head North instead on a similar beach and blufftop loop. Lots of possibilities
Trip details: Dave Pryor, retired CA State Parks biologist, has intimate knowledge of Crystal Cove State Park, having managed the land for many years. Dave is now Senior Scientist with the Bolsa Chica Conservancy and is also an OC CNPS Director.
Meet at 9 AM at the Pelican Point Parking area. Entrance to this lot is at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Newport Coast Drive. Enter the park on the ocean side of PCH and proceed to the Southermost of the four lots (all the way to the left as you go past the pay station). The trip is open to all, no registration required. Leader: David Pryor. This trip does require a parking fee or an Annual State Parks Pass!
Physical Difficulty: Moderate. Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, wildflower book/notepad, water and hiking shoes/boots. Include a sack lunch or swim clothes to enjoy after the trip, if desired. Btw, low tide is at 11:05 on this day, so tidepooling is an option. Water and restrooms near the parking and cottage areas only. Plant Intensity: moderate. Time: Approx. 3 hours or more depending on the group.
Christianitos Creek and the San Clemente Burn Site – Sat, May 18
Come explore the little-used “back country” of San Clemente. Located just east of the Talega development in San Clemente at the end of La Pata road (next to the dog park), these series of trails extend all the way to San Mateo campground and lie at the edge of Orange County before it meets the border of Camp Pendleton. We will explore a variety of trails and dirt roads that lie within an area burned in 2017. A variety of post-fire following annuals and herbaceous perennials are to be found here including species of Sanicle, Mirabilis, Acmispon and an usually large population of a white-flowered California thistle (Cirsium occidentale var. californicum).
Free and open to all. Meet at 9 AM at the San Clemente Dog Park. Parking free at the SE end of Avenida La Pata near the entrance to the San Clemente Dog Park. From I-5 go East two miles, turn right on Avenida La Pata and go to the end (about 1 mile). Leader: Jonathan Frank.
Physical Difficulty: Moderate. Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, wildflower book/notepad, water and hiking shoes/boots. Water and restrooms near the parking/start area only. Plant Intensity: moderate to high. Time: Approx. 3 hours, depending on the group.
Soquel Canyon, Chino Hills State Park – Sun, May 19
UPDATE 5-10: Cancelled. Unfortunately access issues have forced a cancellation of this trip.
A first-time trip; another of our recent forays into the more scenic and remote parts of Chino Hills State Park. With assistance of Park personnel, we will venture into Soquel Canyon, which runs east/west between Carbon and Telegraph Canyons at the western end of the park, and is one of its more underdeveloped areas. The trail is neither marked nor maintained, so we may be doing a bit of bushwhacking as we work our way up this gently rising canyon. We are more likely to encounter stray cows than fellow hikers on this trip!
Soquel is one of the wetter canyons in the park. One or two pools often manage to remain year-round, and support a community of aquatic life. There are also some interesting exposed geological features at the mouth of the canyon. Since we are visiting in the spring it is possible we may encounter some muddy or soft ground on the floor of the canyon, so equip your feet accordingly. We will seek special permission to use the closed North Ridge trail, or if that is not possible, will enter via carpool from a nearby parking lot. Stay tuned for additional details.
This trip will be strictly limited to the first 20 people. RSVP details will be posted here approximately 30 days prior to the trip. Leader: Robin Huber and Ron Vanderhoff
Physical Difficulty: Moderate. Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, wildflower book/notepad, water and hiking shoes/boots. No water or restrooms. Plant Intensity: moderate. Time: Approx. 3-4 hours or more depending on the group.
Joshua Tree National Park – Sun, May 5
UPDATE 5-4: We are all set for tomorrow. Either meet at 7 AM in Orange or 9:30 AM at Joshua Tree.
Joshua Tree National Park is another gem of natural beauty in Southern California. Its nearly 800,000 acres include three desert ecosystems. We will be visiting the higher and cooler Mojave Desert, which is the special habitat of the Joshua tree. At our starting location, Black Rock Canyon, expect to see many spectacular cactus blooms along with numerous "belly plants" like Wallace's Daisy and Cushion Cryptantha. The diversity can be astounding. A second destination is along the road toward Hidden Valley after passing through the Western Entrance, which will require an entrance fee or a National Parks pass. There may be dense patches of Desert Bluebells, Common Phacelia, and Desert Sand Verbena. On our return, an optional stop will be Big Morongo Preserve, where we may see Giant Stream Orchid and much more.
Meet at 7:00 AM at the Lincoln Park & Ride just off Hwy-55 in Orange (Tustin Avenue at Lincoln Avenue) to carpool, or at the Black Rock campground at 9:30 AM. To get there, take Hwy 62 to the town of Joshua Tree, turn right on Joshua Lane, continue on Quail Spring Dr., right on San Marino Dr., left on Black Rock Canyon Rd.. Park near the visitor center.
Leader: Diane Etchison.
Physical difficulty: moderate. Plant intensity: moderate: Time : about 4-5 hours.
Wildflower Showcase, Irvine Ranch Conservancy Seed Farm Open House – April 20 RSVP through IRC website
More details to come, but tentatively . . .
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 and habitats in Orange County. The 8-acre native seed farm currently grows 45 local plant species, each providing seed used to support local ecological restoration. Expect many of them to be in full bloom for this event, which will begin with 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.
If you enjoy native wildflowers, good people, and outdoor fun, this event is for you! Parking is very limited and carpooling is recommended. Attendance is limited. RSVP at www.letsgooutside.org. approx. one month before the event. Directions and additional details will be forwarded upon confirmation.
Physical difficulty: Easy to moderate. Bring good walking/hiking shoes, hat, sunscreen, camera, wildflower book/notepad, and perhaps water. Water and restrooms are available near the parking area. Approx. 3 hours. Leader: Matt Garrabone.
OC CNPS Native Plant Garden Tour – Sat, Apr 13
Our annual and very popular open garden tour of some of the best native plant gardens in the county. More details to come soon.
April 13 is the date for the Orange County chapter tour of gardens featuring California native plants. Interesting landscape and hardscape design, unique plant collections, attractive habitat plantings, problem solving designs - we are on the prowl now for gardens with ideas to share. Contact us at ; we will be delighted to visit your garden and discuss what is involved in being on the tour. Past garden tour participants have all found it a tiring but enjoyable experience.
Audubon Starr Ranch – Sun, Apr 14. Limited Attendance. CNPS Members Only.
UPDATE 4/13: We just had a cancellation of two spaces for tommorrow's trip. First come, first serve gets them. Email .
Starr Ranch Sanctuary is a 4,000 acre preserve nestled in the foothills between Casper’s Park, the Cleveland National Forest and the developments of Dove Canyon and Coto de Caza, and operated by the National Audubon Society. For this very special visit we will board sanctuary vehicles and travel with ranch staff to various areas of the property in search of interesting plants of the grassland, coastal sage scrub, chaparral and oak woodland plant communities within the sanctuary. This trip is limited to 15 CNPS members.
Starr Ranch Sanctuary offers volunteer, educational and research opportunities for all age and experience levels. The natural resources here are well preserved and protected.
Sandy DeSimone lovingly handles all the land management, research and education on the property while Pete DeSimone oversees infrastructure, web cams and administrative work. Sandy’s innovative approaches to wildlands management are extraordinary and will be explained and demonstrated during the visit. For more information about the ranch visit www.starrranch.org/ and for a complete plant list of the property visit www.starrranch.org/flora.html.
Limited restroom and water availability. Picnic tables are available, so bring a picnic lunch to enjoy following the tour.
This trip does require advance registration and is limited to CNPS members. To RSVP for this trip please send an email to . Include the number of people and a phone. Once registered, a confirmation, including driving directions (the Dove Canyon area), a release form and other details will be returned to the first 15 RSVP’s who are CNPS members. This will be an 8 AM start.
Physical Difficulty: Moderate, some uphill walking. May include bouncing around on uneven roads. Plant Intensity: moderate to high. Time: About 3+ hours.
Elsinore Peak and South Main Divide Road (Combined trip with San Diego CNPS) – Sun, Mar 31
UPDATE 3-30: We are all looking forward to tomorrow. See you at 8 AM at the meetup location in San Juan Capistrano.
We are planning two trips in coordination with San Diego CNPS (scroll down to see the San Diego trip later in the season). One will be hosted by San Diego CNPS and other by Orange County CNPS, although everyone is welcome on both trips. These will be exciting opportunities for us to visit new areas and make new native plant friends.
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 always unpredictable bloom. 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). Then, we may visit the site along S. Main Divide Road of the 2013 “Falls” fire, ior another location depending upon the wishes of the group. Following the burn, this was the best wildflower show in the area, with large displays of fire-following plants, including thousands of Fire poppies - Papaver californicum, Chorizanthe, Delphinium, Penstemons, Caulanthus, Emmenanthe, Lupinus and others. 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!
Physical Difficulty: Moderate. Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, wildflower book/notepad, water and hiking shoes/boots. No water or restrooms. Plant Intensity: moderate to high, especially wildflowers. Time: Approx. 3 hours or more depending on the group.
Driving Tour of The Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks – Sun, April 7.
CNPS Members Only. RSVP required.
UPDATE 3/8: This trip is now open for RSVP's.
The Irvine Ranch Conservancy will offer its tenth annual CNPS tour of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks with hosts Matt Garrambone and Ron Vanderhoff, as well as many IRC volunteers. Details of the visit are not yet final. However, we may visit portions of the Canyon 2 fire and make a “post-fire recovery” to areas such as Weir, Blind or even Gypsum Canyons.
Matt Garrambone manages plant and seed resources for the Conservancy. In this capacity he oversees the collection of genetically local seed from the wild, the production of native plant materials using the Conservancy's native seed farm and nursery and works collaboratively with their field and restoration ecologist throughout nearly 40,000 acres managed by the Conservancy in Orange County. Matthew has 15 years' experience working with native plants, in both applied and academic settings. He received his Bachelor's degree from Northern Arizona University in Environmental Communications with a minor in Biology and is currently pursuing a graduate degree from University of California, Irvine in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.
Matt and the incredible IRC docents will once again offer CNPS a rare private trip through the natural areas of The Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. CNPS members will visit some of OC’s most important and best protected natural resources.
This is a driving tour, on conservancy vehicles, along uneven dirt roads and nearly a full day trip. Portable restroom availability at beginning and end only. This trip is strictly limited to the first 20 CNPS members. RSVP's should be made through a non-public page on the IRC Let's Go Outside activities page. Directions to the parking and starting location will be available during the registration process. This will be an 8:30 AM start and approximately a 2:30-3:00 PM finish.
Physical Difficulty: Easy, but includes lots of bouncing around on rough dirt roads. Short to moderate walking distances. Plant Intensity: Moderate to high, especially wildflowers. Time: Approx. 6-7 hours.
slider Casper’s Wilderness Park – Sun, Mar 24|green|active}
Mar 23, 7 PM UPDATE: All set for tomorrow. Should be spectacular. Great weather too. The specific route will be decided tomorrow morning, based on trail conditions and flowers.
Casper’s Wilderness Park is the Jewel of the Orange County Park system, including 8,000 acres and a wide array of habitats. This walk will head up the Loskorn Trail to the West Ridge Trail, then back again by way of the Star Rise and Bell Canyon trails for a distance of 3.5 miles. Warning: the Loskorn Trail is steep and narrow with steep drop-offs in places. There will be an optional side trip up the Quail Run Trail to look for Palmer's Grapplinghook (Harpagonella palmeri) on the West Ridge Trail.
Possible wildflowers at this time of year include Clematis pauciflora (Ropevine), Dodecatheon clevelandii (Padre's Shooting Star), Harpagonella palmeri (Palmer's Grapplinghook), Lasthena gracilis (Slender Goldfields), Paeonia californica (California Peony), Caulanthus heteropyllus (San Diego Jewel Flower), Camissoniopsis strigulosa (Sandysoil Suncup), Pseudognaphalium leucocephalum (Sonora Everlasting), and lots of Lupines. Near the top of the Loskorn trail there should be a variety of ferns, bryophytes and Dudleyas. At this time of year open areas may be covered with Calandrinia ciliata (Red Maids). When these flowers open after noon, they form a carpet of red.
Meet at 8 am at the end of Caspers Park road near the windmill. Directions: From 5 freeway, exit Ortega Highway, and go east 8 miles. The entrance to Casper’s is prominently marked on the left. There is a day use fee of $5 per car or free with an OC Parks Pass. Maps and directions are available at the entrance kiosk as well. Wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen. Bring hiking poles if you use them and plenty of water. Restrooms and water at the trailhead, but not on the trail. Leader: Diane Etchison/Laura Camp.
Physical Difficulty: Moderate, approximately three and a half miles on trails. Bring hat, sunscreen, camera, wildflower book/notepad, water and hiking shoes. Porta-potty at the staging area. Plant Intensity: Moderate. Time: About 3 hours.