Page Revised: 03/17/2011


Available Site Reviews

Upper Zuma/Trancas Canyons

Topanga Canyon State Park

Corral Canyon

Circle X Ranch

Zuma/Trancas Canyons

Date of Reviews

03/12 & 02/26



02/22 & 02/12

02/21 & 02/06

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        We had a great start this year with many of our winter flowers appearing as early as December. The warm, dry weather we had early in the season made for pleasant hiking but appears to have shortened the season for some of our early flowers. I can’t remember a shorter Bigpod Ceanothus bloom up here at Circle X Ranch. In addition, that extended dry spell was hard on a lot of the plants. Many of the typical annual species are pretty scarce. Hopefully the rains have not returned too late and will keep the flower season alive. The hairy-leaved ceanothus with the deep blue flowers have recently started blooming but I notice some have already begun to drop their flowers.

        As always, if you want to contact me or submit a flower report my email address is at the at the bottom of this page.  See you on the trails.

        – ed.




Zuma/Trancas Canyons

Backbone Trail

 Date: 03/12/2011



        Today’s hike was the fifth leg of the 2011 Backbone Trail series cosponsored by the National Park Service and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council.  We are hiking west to east covering one segment every two weeks. Descending into Trancas Canyon through dense riparian cover and ascending to Zuma ridge we did the same through upper Zuma and Newton canyons.  

        The following native species were noted in bloom: Big pod ceanothus, wild cucumber, deerweed, fuchsia gooseberry, yarrow, purple nightshade, greenbark ceanothus, milkmaids, coastal live oak, bindweed - morning glory, wishbone, black sage, Parry's Phacelia, California buckwheat, mustard evening primrose, sugarbush, sticky monkey flower, dandelion, tone-tone everlasting, California poppy, chamise, mountain mahagony, Indian warrior, lomatium, wooley blue curls, fiddleneck, tall popcorn flower, elderberry, blue dicks, truncated lupin, meadow rue, interior live oak, canyon sunflower, hollyleaf redberry, peony, prickly pholox, chaparral currant, arroyo willow, blue larkspur, hoary leaf ceanothus, cliff aster(?), prickly sow thistle, bush lupine, annual or common bedstraw, mule fat, sweet pea, chaparral virgin's bower, hedge nettle, saxifrage, lacepod, narrow leaf bedstraw, figwort, arroyo lupin, Indian paintbrush, hummingbird sage, tree poppy, blue eyed grass, groundsel, poison oak, slender sunflower, bush sunflower, California everlasting, bay laurel, sticky phacelia.  A good flower day.  – N. Cusworth (and others)


Topanga Canyon State Park

Topanga Canyon nature trail

 Date: 03/02/2011



        I was here early on an overcast day.  Perhaps that is why this hike seemed to be more about the fauna than the flora.  I stopped counting after seeing more than twenty deer.  I also saw a pocket gopher, mallards, towhees and ground squirrels.  The hills hold a lot of promise for great flowers but the display is just beginning.  There are white and blue ceanothus, bush lupine, chaparral current, wishbone flower, sticky monkey flower, wild cucumber, wild morning glory and fuchsia flowering gooseberry in bloom.  It looks like it will be a great flower season.  – Dorothy Steinicke


Upper Zuma/Trancas Canyons

Backbone Trail

 Date: 02/26/2011



        Today’s hikes were the third and fourth legs of the 2011 Backbone Trail series cosponsored by the National Park Service and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council.  We are hiking west to east normally covering one segment every two weeks. Because today's segments are so short, we hiked one segment in the morning, drove to another trailhead, had lunch, and then hiked the second segment, for a total of almost 12 miles. Today's first leg began at Mishe Mokwa Parking in Circle X Ranch, circumnavigated Triunfo Peak and ended at Yerba Buena Road. The second leg began at the crossing of Encinal Canyon Road in Upper Trancas Canyon and headed west to an overlook above the Etz Meloy Motorway, and return on the same trail. Private property along the Etz Meloy Motorway precludes using that road. The plant communities along this hike varied between Southern Oak Woodland and Chaparral, with occasions of Cliffside communities.

        The following species, including NATIVE and non-native, were noted in bloom in order of occurrence: Blue Dicks, Black Sage, a Woolly Blue-curl,  Deerweed, filaree,  chamise, Minute-flowered Popcorn Flower, Golden Yarrow, Shooting Stars beside a waterfall, Black Mustard, Wild Cucumber, Hairy-leaf Ceanothus, Purple Nightshade, Two-tone Everlasting, Sugar Bush, Canyon Sunflower, Greenbark Ceanothus, Miner's Lettuce, Chaparral Currant, Shiny Lomatium, Bigpod Ceanothus, Hedge-nettle, Eastwood Manzanita, Prickly Phlox, California Buckwheat, Wild Morning Glory, Mountain Mahogany, California Everlasting, Holly-leaf Redberry, Wishbone Bush, Fuchsia-flowered Gooseberry, Parry's Phacelia, Prickly Phlox, Rock Rose, Chamise, Mule Fat, Elderberry, Bush Monkey Flower, Popcorn Flower, common groundsel, prickly sow thistle, tree tobacco, Common Fiddleneck, terracina spurge.  – Burt Elliot and Ralph Waycott


Corral Canyon

Sara Wan Trailhead

 Date: 02/26/2011



        Today was the first time I walked this trail.  The entrance is just south of Corral Canyon Rd. and has a parking lot adjacent to Malibu Seafood.  There is a creek crossing just after leaving the parking lot.  I imagine that one can normally cross easily.  Today, a day after a heavy rain the creek was very full and we got our feet wet.  The trail is a 2 1/2 mile loop with some spectacular views of the ocean and down into the creek bed.  Once away from the creek, and the trail leaves the creek as soon as it is crossed, the habitat is almost entirely chaparral.  So I imagine it would not be a pleasant hike on a hot sunny day.  But this was a perfect day.  There was not a tremendous quantity or variety of flowers in bloom.  There were some glorious patches of caterpillar phacelia and a lot of bush sunflowers.  There were wishbone flowers, Indian paintbrush, purple nightshade, wild morning glory, blue dicks, vervain, wild cucumber, California everlasting and hedge nettle.  The only less common flower was Southern California loco weed which was in bloom in places and with the inflated seed pods in other places.  – Dorothy Steinicke


Circle X Ranch

Canyon View Trail

 Date: 02/22/2011



        I always have high hopes for the Canyon View early in the season. Its southern exposure, multiple habitats, and sheltered nooks and crannies often allow it to be one of the best flower trails in the Santa Monica Mountains, especially early in the season. Part of the problem is that the flowers had a good start this year and we have had a lot of unseasonably fine weather early on as well. However this weather may have been a bit hard on some of our flowers, especially the part were we had almost no precipitation for the better part of five weeks. This all leads up to my reporting that I was a bit disappointed in this trail, or, for that matter, any of the others I've looked at recently. All told I saw well over 50 different species in bloom but almost none of them were in any significant quantity and many could easily be missed unless you took your time and bent down to check every possibility. One thing I noticed was the disappearance of several of the fragile annuals that I saw earlier on this trail and usually expect to keep seeing for a while yet. The extended dry spell may have been too much for them. That said the day was beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed the hike. This trail drains well and has very little mud even right after a rain. Some of the flowers we ran into included deerweed, a couple of different everlastings, wild cucumber, couple of different sunflowers, some little clovers, a few morning glories just getting going for the season, greenbark ceanothus, the orange strands of the California dodder but with no flowers on it yet, purple nightshade, poison oak (yes, it is a flowering plant, and yes, we have it on many of our trails) wild sweet pea, blue larkspur, a few early Chinese houses, one California saxifrage (these last few on the Grotto portion of the trail just beyond the waterfalls) wishbone bush, a few different popcorn flowers, lace pod, globe gilia, blue dicks, a couple of the members of the celery family with their tiny green flowers, one early woolly blue curls, shooting stars (several plants but you have to know where to look) a few individuals of owls clover where I usually expect to see more, and some California peony. Then, walking back to the contact station on Yerba Buena Road, both stinging and succulent lupines (looking pretty dried up for so early in the season,) a few out-of-season bush monkey flowers, elderberry, virgins bower, Parry's phacelia, and finally, mustard evening primrose. I would rate the showing as "Fair" but the season is still quite early. Please note that even at this Fair rating this trail is doing better than some other trails do even when things are really popping. Hopefully this trail will approach its more typically productive self as the season matures.   – ed.


Zuma/Trancas Canyons


 Date: 02/21/2011



        The recent rains have encouraged a lot of early blooming.  The trail is muddy in places but overall not bad.  The highlight of this hike was the profusion of scarlet red Indian paintbrush growing alongside the much of the trail.  Other treats were patches of padres shooting stars, parry's phacelia, milkwort, scarlet bugler, fuchsia flowering gooseberry, virgin's bower and blue dicks.  There are lots of bush sunflowers in bloom along with cucumber, big pod and greenbark ceanothus.  A truly lovely hike.  – Dorothy Steinicke


Circle X Ranch  –

Point Mugu State Park

Backbone Trail

 Date: 02/12/2011



        Today’s hike was the second leg of the 2011 Backbone Trail series cosponsored by the National Park Service and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council.  We are hiking west to east covering one segment every two weeks. This time descending from Sandstone Peak (3,111’) through dense chaparral and riparian environments to the Danielson Multi-use Area (300’)

        The following native species were noted in bloom: deerweed, chamise, buckwheat, black sage, wild cucumber, big pod ceanothus, two tone everlasting, sugar bush, purple nightshade, shiny lomatium, chaparral current, prickly phlox, hairy-leaf ceanothus, hoary-leaf ceanothus, eastwood manzanita, saxifrage, popcorn, shooting star, lace pod, gold fields, peony, greenbark ceanothus, blue dicks, morning glory, rock rose, lotus (species ?), canyon sunflower, gooseberry fuchsia, miner's lettuce, hedge nettle, woodland star, bedstraw - prostrate, bush sunflower, skull caps, golden yarrow, common yellow monkey, wishbone, lupine - stinging, rattlesnake weed - spurge, wooly aster, wild sweet pea, poison oak, Indian paintbrush, oxalis, virgin's bower, blackberry, mule fat.  A good flower day.  – N. Cusworth (and others)


Zuma/Trancas Canyons

Zuma Loop Trail    

 Date: 02/06/2011



        With a few weeks of warm weather to hasten the bloom, 30 species were sighted on this easy 2-mile hike. Though many were just starting to bloom, a few species had numerous flowers, such as wild cucumber, bush sunflower, coast paintbrush, bigpod ceanothus, fuschia-flowered gooseberry, willow, and black walnut. Other notables were foothill lupine, chaparral pea, canyon sunflower, both white and purple nightshades, California everlasting, coffeeberry, mountain mahogany, blackberry, and holly-leaf redberry – many of them unexpectedly early. The non-native grasses were thick and green, giving an overall lush appearance, but much of it is already going to seed. The trail earned a “Fair” rating, with good portents of things to come – and hopes for rain to prolong the season.  Jack Gillooly



Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360



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