Page Revised: 3/31/06


Available Sites

Circle X Ranch
Topanga State Park
Malibu Creek State Park
Cold Creek Preserve
Solstice Canyon
Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Cyns

Date of Review

3/31/06 & 3/17/06 & 3/13/06 & 2/19/06.
3/30/06 & 3/22/06.


After a long period of down-time the Park’s web site is again accepting new content. Please feel free to contact us if you have a wild flower report you would like to share with the public.

What's Blooming photo gallery:
What's Blooming archive:
Events in the Santa Monica Mountains:


Circle X Ranch

Sandstone Peak Trail

  Date: 3/31/06



        At the lower elevations near the trailhead things look similar to a few weeks ago: few flowers, both in term of species count and quantity of individuals. However, moving up to higher elevations we begin to encounter large numbers of very heavily laden hairy-leaved ceanothus and a good number of prickly phlox. The deep blue and hot pink of these two flowers provide the perfect counterpoint. There was one short section of the trail which also included an abundance of the white blossoms of the hoary-leaved ceanothus that struck me as being as beautiful as any wildflower display I have ever seen. It wasn't just the unusually heavy blossom load, but rather the whole aspect taken together. It felt almost as if a skilled artist had arranged the dramatic colors to produce a work of art. Last year was a banner year for flowers in general, but only average for the ceanothus. This year the ceanothus have been spectacular and worth a hike in their own right (perhaps some compensation for the otherwise poor flower showing we’ve had so far this year.)

        Other notable sightings included purple nightshade, several black sage bushes beginning to bloom, golden yarrow, and good numbers of another favorite, the Eastwood manzanita, near the top of the trail. Don't forget to look for the smaller flowers like the delicate California saxifrage along the talus slopes just below the highpoint of the ascending trail. A few weeks ago it looked like the wild cucumbers were beginning to dry up but they are in full bloom again, thanks perhaps to the recent rains. There are still some shooting stars about and even a few chaparral currents. So don't let the rather poor flower condition near the bottom of the trail stop you, its much better farther up out of sight.

        So how to rate this trail? It doesn’t seem quite fair to rate it too high based on the presence of just a few of really stand-out species, but then, flower watching has always been a rather subjective sport. If you love the “California Lilac” as much as I do, then perhaps even “Excellent” is justified. However, cooler heads would point out that on the basis of the variety of flowers in bloom this is still a rather poor showing. You’ll have to decide for yourself.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair to Very Good


Topanga State Park

Los Liones Trail

  Date: 3/30/06



        Trailhead at the end of Los Liones St. off Sunset Blvd., just in from PCH.

        This trail is just starting to come into bloom.  Elderberry flowers, deerweed and California everlasting are visible from the trailhead.  Hiking a little ways brings you to canyon sunflower, morning glory, purple and white nightshade, wild cucumber, sticky monkey flower, bush sunflower and cliff aster.  This is a trail that is known for phacelia.  Not much yet but we did see some parry's and big flower phacelia..  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Malibu Creek State Park

Reagan Meadows

  Date: 3/23/06



        This is a lovely hike and one where you are not likely to encounter many other people.  Park in the gravel lot at the southeast corner of Mulholland and Cornell and walk up the paved driveway to the   park buildings.  Beyond the buildings the trail is obvious.  Soon the trail forks and you can choose the left and the meadow first or right and the woods, you can loop back the other way.  Either choice is perfumed with the scent of ceanothus.  I took the meadow trail first.  There are brambles of golden current and little yellow violets peeping out at the edge of the trail.  There is common fiddleneck, miner's lettuce, chaparral current, and, of course the ceanothus.  Curving uphill to the right at the end of the meadow you can return through the woods.  Here you find western wallflower, baby blue eyes, fiesta flower, larkspur and Chinese houses.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Topanga State Park

Dead Horse & Musch trails

  Date: 3/22/06



        Dead Horse Trail to Musch trail and return to Dead Horse on the fire road.

        The recent rains are paying off in flowers.  Things are really starting to bloom.  The Dead Horse Trail is riparian at the beginning and then goes to chaparral.  In the riparian area there is blooming chamise, greenbark ceanothus, canyon sunflower, hummingbird sage and manzanita.  Above the footbridge there are several dozen peonies in bloom, they must have waited for the rain.  In the chaparral area there are fuchsia flowering gooseberry and vervain.  In the meadow before the trail meets the Musch Trail there are buttercups and blue eyed grass.  Going up the Musch Trail there is sticky monkey flower, purple nightshade, California buckwheat, California everlasting, wild morning glory and golden yarrow.  The most notable plant in bloom is notable penstemon which is just gorgeous and there is quite a bit of it.  There are also some lovely tree poppies.  Coming down the fire road to the Trippet Ranch parking lot there are still some prickly phlox hanging on.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Good


Circle X Ranch

Canyon View Trail

  Date: 3/17/06



        Still very few flowers making an appearance, both in terms of quantity and variety. One of the few plants that are having a good blooming season this year are the ceanothus. I was debating giving this trail a poor rating, but the fine display of greenbark ceanothus easily bumped it up to a fair rating (as a side note, we are still getting a great displays of the similar, but deeper blue, hairy-leaved ceanothus on the higher elevations at CXR.) Other highlights include, deerweed, California buckwheat, popcorn flower, wild cucumber, chamise, purple nightshade, blue larkspur, wishbone bush, common fiddleneck, shooting star, mustard evening primrose, wooly blue curls, annual paintbrush, golden yarrow, bush monkey flower, canyon sunflower, wild morning glory, blue dick, and California blackberry. (TV).


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Cold Creek Preserve

Stunt High Trail

  Date: 3/16/06



        This canyon is a wonderful hike in any season but especially nice in the spring.  The creek is full of water and the deep shade of the canyon bottom is refreshing.  Right at the trail head is some mustard evening primrose.  There are a lot of deep blue ceanothus throughout the canyon.  By the creek there are purple nightshade, California everlasting, wild cucumbers, miner's lettuce, milkmaids and fuchsia flowering gooseberry.  There are bunches of baby blue eyes in every sunlit patch. 

        Going up the hill into the meadow there are golden yarrow, lupine, popcorn flower, common fiddleneck, sweet peas, fiesta flowers, blue dicks and blue eyed grass. 

        Continuing into the chaparral there is Eastwood manzanita and the beautiful flowering ash trees dripping with creamy yellow blossoms.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Circle X Ranch

Grotto Trail

  Date: 3/13/06



        Highlights include deerweed, California buckwheat, popcorn flower, bush sunflower, canyon sunflower, two-tone everlasting, California everlasting, greenbark ceanothus, morning glory, purple nightshade, blue larkspur, chinese houses, wild cucumber, chamise, bush monkey flower, wishbone bush, fuchsia flowered gooseberry. About three dozen different species encountered but for most a very light turnout. The great display of greenbark ceanothus helps bump the rating up to "fair."  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Solstice Canyon

Sostomo trail

  Date: 3/7/06



        This beautiful canyon with a year round creek is always a good place for a hike.  We took the Sostomo Trail and added the Deer Canyon loop and didn't encounter another person for the entire hike.  We did see Sara Orange tip and California Sister butterflies.  There were blackberries, California everlasting, morning glory, canyon sunflower and purple and white nightshade in bloom.  There were beautiful patches of hummingbird sage which each seemed to have a hummingbird in attendance.  The greenbark and big pod ceanothus are both in bloom.  There was parry's phacelia, fuchsia flowering gooseberry and wishbone flower in bloom.  Sitting by the creek we saw newts.  On the way back we were serenaded by frogs.  (DS)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa Loop Trail

  Date: 3/6/06



        We are still seeing mostly light turnouts of many flowers, the notable exception being the several species of ceanothus which have all had a banner year. Highlights include bigpod, greenbark, hairy-leaved, and hoary-leaved ceanothus, California buckwheat, deerweed, two-tone everlasting, popcorn flower, morning glory, wild cucumber, a good number of prickly phlox, golden yarrow, the largely finished chaparral current, eastwood manzanita, shooting stars, purple nightshade, yellow cress, miner's lettuce, milkmaids, hillside gooseberry, California peony, and blue larkspur.

        I am frequently told by people that they particularly enjoy seeing the greenbark ceanothus blooming on this trail. In fact there is very little greenbark ceanothus on the Mishi Mokwa loop trail. The confusion arises because the much more plentiful hairy-leaved ceanothus can also have green bark and blue flowers.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair


Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons

Palo Comado Cyn Trail & a portion of China Flat Trail

  Date: 2/23/06



        A good portion of this trip was a quick survey done in a vehicle so this list must be considered incomplete (for example, a hike of the same area a few weeks earlier netted over twice as many species in bloom.) Ignoring the common weedy species the highlights included fiddleneck, Parry's phacelia, Indian paintbrush, woolly blue curls, purple nightshade, popcorn flower, wild cucumber, bigpod ceanothus, greenbark ceanothus, deerweed, two-tone everlasting, canyon sunflower, prickly phlox, stinging lupine, bajada lupine, chia, mustard evening primrose, sun-cup, wishbone bush, golden yarrow, yellow pincushion, peony, star lily, California poppy, windmill pink, morning glory, twining snapdragon, white snapdragon, blue toadflax, yellow monkey flower, Brewer's red maids, eucrypta, and miner's lettuce.  (TV)


Naturalist's rating:  Fair



Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360




Thank you


for your contributions:


Burt Elliot
Dorothy Steinicke
Jack Gillooly
Kathy Jonokuchi
Ken Low
Lynne Haigh
Michael Charters
Matt Friedman
Robert W. Maughmer

Ralph Waycott
Sheila Braden
Tony Valois

If you would like to contribute to the wildflower report:




or phone Tony at 310-457-6408