Page Revised: 04/21/2011


Available Site Reviews

Cold Creek Canyon

Malibu Creek State Park

Circle X Ranch

Upper Zuma/Trancas Canyons

Topanga Canyon State Park

Corral Canyon

Zuma/Trancas Canyons

Date of Reviews



04/04 & 03/30 & 03/19 & 02/22.

03/12 & 02/26.




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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. I’ve heard many comments like “... but we’ve had so much rain!” I must remind people that plants are not very interested in quantity, but much more dependent on consistency, and we’ve had very little of that this year. Things are very lush right now so hopefully some of the annuals can bounce back. I’ve noticed that a few of the annuals that had pretty much dried up and gone to seed are flowering again.

        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.




Cold Creek Preserve


 Date: 04/19/2011



        We hiked in the creek bed and along the upper trail.  We also saw several California frogs in the creek. The plants that we saw in bloom:  Caterpillar phacelia, popcorn flower, storksbill filaree, canyon sunflower, sweet yellow clover, horsetail, morning glory, sticky monkey flower, sugar bush, purple nightshade, bedstraw, blackberry, poison oak, mule fat, pitcher/hummingbird sage, miner's lettuce, bush lupine, black sage, California buckwheat, Indian pink, greenbark ceanothus. – Fred and Nellie 


Cold Creek Canyon


 Date: 04/19/2011



        We hiked mainly along the creek but saw a lot of flowers on the path down to the creek and on another path returning from the creek.  There was a lovely grove of white thorn ceanothus, which is an unusual sight.  Most of the blooms on the white thorns were gone but we spotted a few.  We saw a lot of single stemmed yellow aster-like flowers in the meadow areas.  I couldn't find their name.  They had grasslike stems and leaves.  These are the plants we saw in bloom: elderberry, blue dick, purple nightshade, filaree, wild cucumber, California buckwheat, deerweed, sweet pea, sticky monkey flower, canyon sunflower, wild dandelion, gooseberry fuschia, yellow sweet clover, bajada lupine, greenbark ceanothus, pimpernel, black sage, cotton plant, sugar bush, yarrow, bedstraw, pitcher/hummingbird sage, windmill pink, blackberry, spring vetch, bur-weed, coastal live oak, shiny lomatium, poison oak, milk maids, white thorn ceanothus, sow thistle, prickly phlox, pin cushion, fiesta flower, two tone everlasting, mountain mahogany, chia, yucca, arroyo willow, scarlet buglar, notable penstemon. – Fred and Nellie 



Headwaters Corner

 Date: 04/12/2011



        We hiked around the visitor's center and up the hill a little ways from the visitor's center. Then we ventured across the street and up the hill. The plants we saw in bloom: yarrow, arroyo willow, purple nightshade, black sage, mint leaf verbena, black walnut, bush sunflower, popcorn flower, white nightshade (this was up the hill behind the visitor's center, under a large oak tree. The oak tree was surrounded by brush that was difficult to get through) fiddleneck, mule fat, blackberry, milk thistle, interior locoweed, yellow sweet clover, black mustard, annual bedstraw, elderberry, shiny lomatium, hummingbird sage, blue dicks, mariposa lily, verbena, lupine, purple sage (just one plant in bloom,) strigose lotus and owl's clover.  – Fred and Nellie 


Thousand Oaks

Oakbrook Overlook Trail

 Date: 04/10/2011



        This was a short hike located off Westlake Blvd. near Lang Ranch. It was a lovely day. The hike has a slight uphill grade that levels out when you reach the ridge. Nice view. We saw these plants in bloom: Blue eyed grass, popcorn flower, purple nightshade, gooseberry fuschia, shiny lomatium, fiesta flower, elderberry, miner's lettuce, black sage, blue dicks, bush sunflower, tall bedstraw and annual bedstraw, Indian pink, black mustard, sticky monkey flower, wild cucumber, horehound, scrub oak, slender sunflower, woolly blue curls, deerweed, California buckwheat, Southern California interior locoweed, peninsular nolina.  – Fred and Nellie 


Malibu Creek State Park

Backbone Trail

 Date: 04/09/2011



        Today’s hike was the seventh leg of the 2011 Backbone Trail series co-sponsored by the National Park Service and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council.  We are hiking sections west to east covering one segment every two weeks. Today's hike direction was reversed as we ascended and then descended from Saddle Peak down into Dark Canyon and crossing Piuma Road on to Malibu Canyon.  

        The following native species were noted in bloom: scrub oak, golden yarrow, deerweed, buckwheat, purple nightshade, chamise, prickly phlox, silver lotus, dove lupine, yellow sweet clover, bull clover, blue dicks, arroyo lupine, black sage, purple sage, popcorn flower, vetch, sticky monkey flower, everlasting, sugar bush, bush lupine, greenbark ceanothus, virgin's bower, canyon sunflower, eucrypta, baby blue eyes, mountain mahogany, fuchsia flowering gooseberry, chaparral currant, poison oak, bush poppy, big berry manzanita, miner's lettuce, wild cucumber, coast live oak, white thorn ceanothus, truncated lupine, crimson pitcher sage, twinning snapdragon, wooly blue curls, morning glory, caterpillar phacelia, chia sage, mariposa lily, big pod ceanothus, blue eyed grass, chinese houses, California poppy, wishbone bush, fiesta flower, lomatium, woolly blue curls, hollyleaf cherry, peony, tomcat clover, stinging lupine, woodland star, coastal wallflower, pincushion, gilia, owl's clover, blackberry, winter cress, black walnut, skullcap, summer holly, large flowered lotus, arroyo willow, blue larkspur, annual or common bedstraw, mule fat, canyon sweet pea, hedge nettle. Lots of non-native grasses but very good nonetheless. Our best flower day of the series so far.  – G. Sweel, R. Waycott (and others)


Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa to Split Rock

 Date: 04/03/2011



        Though 45 species were sighted over this 2-mile trail, many were quite sparse compared with most other years – apparently in response to this year’s “wacky weather.” With early and late rain, a false spring in between, and scattered freezes, the flowers have been hard-pressed to gain any momentum. The most prominent of the profuse were: deerweed near the trailhead, beds of popcorn flowers, lomatium, virgin’s bower, and goldfields. Other notables included blue larkspur, chia, wooly blue curls, small-flowered primrose, turkey pea, bajada lupine, and just a few chocolate lilies. The day’s bloom rates a “Fair” with hopes for improvement in coming weeks. However, the day’s clouds, cool conditions, and wealth of green rate a “Good” to very.  – Jack Gillooly.


Circle X Ranch

Grotto Trail

 Date: 03/30/2011



        While there is a rather good selection of flowers nothing seems to be dominating this year. In particular the annuals seem to be rather sparse. All the regulars can be found but you have to work at it this year to find some of them. Things to watch for on this trail include three different kinds of monkey flower, masses of lush deerweed, California buckwheat, both bush and canyon sunflowers, chia, both of the common vetches, some early black sage, greenback ceanothus, several members of the carrot family with their tiny yellow flowers, purple nightshade, Chinese houses, blue larkspur, California saxifrage, a couple of our dainty native mustards, blue-eyed grass, blue dicks, a few early chamise, golden yarrow, morning glory, one star lily but a lot of nearby rosettes, wishbone bush looking way better than it did a month ago, Parry’s phacelia, popcorn flowers, a couple of different everlastings, oxalis, virgin’s bower and one chocolate lily. At fifty different species in bloom it was a decent variety even if the flowers are a bit sparse. For reference, in a good year I might expect to see seventy species on this trail this time of year.  – ed.


Circle X Ranch

Sandstone Peak Trail

 Date: 03/19/2011



        Though some blooms were profuse, others are just getting started or still unseen, for this time of year. There was lots of Deerweed and California buckwheat early on, with more showy Prickly phlox among 3 species of Ceanothus: Hoary-leaved (white), Greenbark (pale blue), and Hairy-leaved (dark blue). It was quite a show in the “Ceanothus Tunnel,” just before the Sandstone Peak spur trail, but overall species were quite low (just 10). Give it a few more weeks and some extra rain, hopefully it’ll all come out at once.  – Jack Gillooly


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



Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360



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