Page Revised: 1/3/05


Available Sites

Circle X Ranch
Rancho Sierra Vista
Solstice Canyon
Point Mugu State Park

Date of Review

1/1/05 & 12/11/04 & 12/10/04 & 12/02/04

See the photo gallery of What’s Blooming at:

The rains of the last week have many of the creeks and falls running with great energy. As an example, Circle X Ranch has received over thirteen inches of rain in the last week creating quite a spectacle of the dozen or so falls visible from the park’s contact station on Yerba Buena road.



Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa and Sandstone Peak Trails

 Date: 1/1/05



        This hike is an annual New Year’s Day event with the Conejo Group of the Sierra Club. The hike consists of a counterclockwise loop, beginning up the Mishe Mokwa Trail and coming back down the Sandstone Peak Trail, using the connector trail to get back to the starting point; a distance of about 6 miles.
        This year the emergence of the usual flowers is much later due to colder fall weather. Today a thick overcast barely cleared Sandstone Peak. There are still a lot of Big Pod Ceanothus blooming, but many are now forming seedpods. Without the sun, the Red Stem Filaree flowers refused to open. The Chaparral Current is still quite beautiful, in shades of red to light pink. A single Pearly Everlasting was just beginning to bloom and Bay Laurel is budding. There is a fair amount of mud in places on the trail. A few hours of sunshine would probably dry it out. The sound of running water is everywhere. The stream crossing at Split Rock is 8 to 10 feet wide. Side streams cross the trail on the way down from the hillsides. About a tenth of a mile beyond Split Rock, on the right, is a huge Chalk Live-Forever. I expected to find Silk Tassel in bloom in the area of Split Rock, as in years past, but could only find dried tassels from last season. There are Shooting Stars and Black Mustard coloring some of the grassy areas. Many Bigberry Manzanita are blooming. After checking the flower book I have come up with a good way to remember the difference between the Bigberry and the Eastwood Manzanita:  the Eastwood variety is hairy, the Bigberry is not. Clint Eastwood played Dirty Harry in the movies. (BE)


Naturalist's rating: Fair


Rancho Sierra Vista

Satwiwa Loop Trail

 Date: 12/20/04



       Only 12 species are blooming (so far) on this 1.5 mile easy trail, but more then half of the trail is covered with blooms of big pod ceanothus and wild cucumber. Other notable flowers were shooting stars (earliest we have ever seen them), mulefat, deerweed and everlasting. Greenbark ceanothus is covered with buds and the buds on the California peony should be open within the week if this warm weather continues. (SB)


Naturalist's rating: Good


Solstice Canyon

Solstice Canyon Trail

 Date: 12/12/04



       Along the easy trail to Tropical Terrace, beautiful fall colors are everywhere. The most amazing thing, however, is the number of spring flowers already blooming. Standouts among the 20 species seen were milkmaids, wild cucumber, both purple and white nightshades, black sage, beggar ticks, bay trees and slopes covered with big pod ceanothus. Be sure to smell the flowers on the bay trees which smell like mild gardenias and so different from the spicy smell of the bay leaves. The alders have already produced both catkins and cones. Fall holdovers (mostly bristly seeds, but some flowers) included brickle bush, cliff asters, California fuchsia, coyote brush, bush mallow and ashy-leaf buckwheat. This is definitely a promising beginning to our flower season. (SB)


Naturalist's rating: Good


Circle X Ranch /

Point Mugu State Park

Backbone Trail

 Date: 12/11/04



        This hike was the second of the 2004-2005 NPS Backbone Trail Series. We will be hiking the entire Backbone Trail, one part each month and reporting on the flowers seen. This hike was from the Sandstone Peak Trailhead in Circle X Ranch to Danielson Ranch, a distance of 9 miles. This included the Sandstone Peak Trail, Chamberlain Trail, Old Boney Road and Blue Canyon Trail. The weather was unseasonably warm, cloudless, and visibility unlimited.
        It is still early in the growing season and with our hike starting at an altitude of 2,100 feet we were effectively yet earlier in the season compared to lower elevations. Even here the Big Pod Ceanothus is blooming profusely. We could see a variation of color from white to pale lavender or blue among the different plants. The Bush Senecio that have been blooming the along the ascent to Sandstone Peak the last few months still had a few blossoms for us. The scarcity of flowers leads us to be delighted in seeing even Black Mustard and Common Groundsel. There were quite a few Chaparral Current in the early stages of blooming. Eastwood Manzanita is dominant along the trail but the only Manzanita blooms seen were on the Bigberry Manzanitas. As we descended below Chamberlain Rock we saw the tiny white flowers of Rattlesnake Weed (Spurge) on decomposing shale hillsides. Some California Fuchsia and Mule Fat are still to be seen in low places in Blue Canyon. (BE and TV)


Naturalist's rating: Fair


Circle X Ranch

Grotto Trail

 Date: 12/10/04



       Very few flowers on this two mile round trip to the Grotto and back. New in the last week or so we see quite a few Big-pod Ceanothus beginning to bloom nicely. Otherwise, the only plants in bloom on this trail in any quantity are California Fuchsia and California Sagebrush. Isolated stragglers left from last year's blooming season include Woolly Aster, Wand Buckwheat, California Buckwheat, Felt-leaf Everlasting, and Cliff Aster. Telegraph Weed deserves its own note as it has been quite exuberant in it's blooming over the last few weeks, however, it is only visible at the very top of this trail. (TV)


Naturalist's rating: Poor


Circle X Ranch

 Backbone Trail below Triunfo Peak

 Date: 12/02/04



       This relatively new section of the backbone starts in the South parking lot of the Mishe Mokwa trailhead and proceeds four miles South-East of Yerba Buena before intersecting Yerba Buena again. A good portion of this trail is spent looping around Triunfo Peak. The trail provides grand views of the ocean and the day we did the hike we could see both San Nicolas and San Clemente as well as the much closer Santa Catalina and the Islands of Channel Islands National Park. Evidence of deer is plentiful including many tracks and plants growing in unusual shapes and sizes because of the heavy browsing. This hike included a side trip to Triunfo Peak.
       We are beginning to see a few examples of the first flowers of the new blooming season including Chaparral Currant, Bigberry Manzanita, Bigpod Ceanothus, Golden Yarrow, Two-tone Everlasting, and Sugar Bush. Still blooming in a few places from the last season are Rock Rose, Bleeding Heart, Twiggy Wreath Plant, Cliff Aster, Woolly Aster, California Fuchsia and California Sagebrush. (TV)


Naturalist's rating: Poor




Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360


Ph. 805-370-2301




Thank you


for your contributions:


Burt Elliott
Sheila Braden
Tony Valois

If you would like to contribute to the wildflower report:




or phone him at 310-457-6408