With this year’s rain, it’s looking like it’ll be a great year for wildflowers! Blankets of poppies and lupine, pockets of monkeyflowers, lilies, and fiesta flowers, rare stream orchids and Humboldt lilies, and more can be found all throughout the Central Coast - but the question is, where?
There are the big, well-known destinations that draw tens of thousands of visitors each year - the Carrizo Plain, Figueroa Mountain, Antelope Valley, Death Valley, Anza Borrego, and even far north at the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve. But what if you want to get off the beaten path and see wildflowers on your local trails? Well look no further - here are the top recommended local wildflower hikes from the CIR team!
Santa Barbara & Santa Ynez
Aliso Canyon Trail: 3.78 mile loop, Easy
Just off Paradise Road is the Aliso Canyon trail. This relatively easy loop moves from shaded creeks to vast open grasslands that can host thousands of spectacular wildflowers. You can expect to see a large variety of wildflowers as you transition between different the plant communities seen around the trail.
Grass Mountain: 4.5 mile out-and-back, Strenuous
At the foothills of Figueroa Mountain is Green Mountain. Though not as tall, it can still have just as impressive of a display of wildflowers. It can be moderately busy at times, especially in the spring, but the last mile of this out-and-back trail is - with only slight hyperbole - nearly vertical. If you can pull yourself up that slope, you should be able to leave behind most of the crowds. It can’t be overstated how steep that hill is though. Make sure you bring lots of water.
Ventura & Ojai
Ventura River Preserve: Variable mileage, Variable difficulty
The Ventura River Preserve is a nearly 1600 acre preserve located in western Ojai Valley. It offers everything from shaded creeks to chaparral ridges, and of course - meadows of wildflowers. Hike through Wills Canyon up to the Chaparral Crest trail to see a great diversity of plant communities!
Camarillo & Thousand Oaks
Ray Miller Trail: 5.1 miles out-and-back, Moderate
Off PCH in Point Mugu State Park is the Ray Miller trail - one of the best trails for spring wildflowers in the area. It affords sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands as it gently climbs 1000 feet through fields of wildflowers. Within that 2.5 mile stretch you can easily find 30 or more species of wildflowers.
Backbone Trail: 70 miles of connected segments, Variable difficulty
The Backbone trail is a 70 mile trail that spans from Point Mugu to Will Rogers State Historic Park, is a great trail to hike in segments as it is very long. Each year in May the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Council hosts a seven day trek through the segments of the Backbone trail, in which they typically identify between 140 and 160 species of flowering plants. .
Anacapa Island, Inspiration Point: 0.7 mile loop, Easy
Take a stroll through fields of giant coreopsis along your way to one of the Channel Islands’ most iconic views. Be sure to bring a hat though, because East Anacapa Island is also home to the largest protected breeding colony of western gulls in the world.