Page Revised: 6/6/09


Available Site Reviews

Paramount Ranch

Topanga Canyon State Park

Malibu Creek State Park

Backbone Trail

Nicholas Flat

Newton/Zuma Canyons

Circle X Ranch

Upper Solstice Canyon

Castro Crest

Date of Reviews


6/2 & 5/21 & 5/20.









What's Blooming photo gallery:
What's Blooming archive:
Calendar of Events:


        Late spring in SoCal always reminds me of summer or even fall elsewhere and this year is no exception.  The spring rains ended a bit too early to give a us a great blooming season but most of the flowers we see in any given year have made their appearance, if in smaller numbers and for a shorter period of time than typical. Many of the early spring flowers have been mostly gone for awhile now and are getting hard to find even in the sheltered areas.  On the other hand many of the later spring flowers like the appropriately named “Farewell to Spring” are up and blooming well now.  However, if you look carefully you may still find a few of those earlier species holding on in sheltered nooks and crannies.  Please note that because we are in transition from early spring to late spring many of the flower reports here are more out of date than you might otherwise expect.  This is especially true since some of the reports are getting a bit old as people often stop sending them in once the drama of early spring subsides.  – ed.




Paramount Ranch

Coyote/Hacienda/Backdrop/Bwana Trails Loop

           Date: 6/3



        This was my first time hiking at Paramount Ranch.  We combined these trail segments to make a two mile loop.  There is a nice variety of chaparral, woodland, meadow and riparian habitats.  We left the western town and headed up into the chaparral on the Coyote Trail.  There were elegant clarkia, golden yarrow, sticky monkey flower, chamise, black sage, slender tarweed, flowering yucca, wild morning glory and Indian pinks.  There were also foothill penstemon and common madia, both of which are not commonly seen by me.  At that point the Coyote Trail turns back to the Western Town, we continued on the Hacienda Trail.  There we saw bush sunflowers, heart leaf penstemon, golden stars and bush mallow.  Heading up the hill on the Backdrop Trail we saw white sage, gum plant, Turkish rugging, cliff aster, caterpillar phacelia, chalk live forever and narrow leaf milkweed.  We returned to the western town on the Bwana Trail which goes through the meadow and by Medea Creek.  The flowers weren't fabulous but there was a good variety and I enjoyed finding a few which I haven't seen in a while.  – Dorothy Steinicke.


Topanga Canyon State Park

Dead Horse Trail made into a loop

   Date: 6/2



        This hike is more notable for its fauna than its flora at this time of year, but there are still flowers worth visiting.  Leaving the Trippet Ranch Parking lot up the paved road you turn left on the Dead Horse Trail just past the pond.  There are oaks on one side of the trail and grassland on the other.  Purple clarkia, gum plant and slender tarweed line the trail.  I saw ten deer in the meadow today including four little spotty fawns.  Ground squirrels are zipping around and swallows are swooping down for insects.  There are a few blue eyed grass still in bloom.  Also sticky monkey flower, narrow leaf milkweed, vervain and chamise.  The trail heads into chaparral and there is blooming black sage, deer weed, California live forever and turkish rugging.  The trail splits with one branch going to the Dead Horse parking lot and the other signed for Entrada Rd.  Turn onto the trail heading for Entrada.  The only impressive bloom is a bright stand of woolly blue curls.  When Entrada Rd. is in sight watch for the trail marker to the left signed for Trippet Ranch.  Take that trail which wanders around and ends up at the entry kiosk.  This is an easy 1 mile hike..  – Dorothy Steinicke.


Malibu Creek State Park

Reagan Meadows

           Date: 5/29



        This is the secret (free!) back end of Malibu Creek State Park.  Enter from Lake Vista Dr. just south of Mulholland Hwy.  There is a dirt parking area just inside the park.  Park there and walk up the paved drive to some park maintenance buildings.  On the other side of the buildings Reagan Meadow stretches out in front of you.  The meadow is filled with just about every clarkia that we have; elegant clarkia, speckled clarkia, purple clarkia and farewell-to-spring.  These are interspersed with golden stars, vervain and vetch.  The trail is lined with slender tarweed and gum plant.  There are banks of sticky monkey flower here and there and thickets of wild rose and elderberry.  We passed one blooming mallow bush and saw one lingering Catalina mariposa lily.  We took the 'low trail' on the way out and the 'high trail' or the "Deer Leg Trail" on the way back to make a loop.  The Deer Leg Trail goes under oaks and there we saw golden yarrow, purple sage, deer weed, California buckwheat, cliff aster and chamise.  Best of all on this upper section we saw first one, then two, then a small hillside of yellow mariposas.  – Dorothy Steinicke.


Topanga Canyon State Park

Santa Ynez Trail 

           Date: 5/21



        The beginning of this hike is along a creek in a shady canyon.  A good walk for a hot day.  Just watch out for the plentiful poison oak.  In the creekside area there is canyon sunflower, black sage, bush lupine, sticky monkey flower, California bee plant, California buckwheat, blackberry, California everlasting, wild rose, hedge nettle, purple and white nightshades, elderberry, and large flower and caterpillar phacelia.  Climbing up into the chaparral portion of the trail that leads up to Trippet Ranch there are Turkish rugging, yellow pin cushion, white snapdragon, star lily, golden yarrow, deer weed, chamise and heart leaf penstemon.  – Dorothy Steinicke.


Topanga Canyon State Park

Trippet Ranch Nature Trail

           Date: 5/20



        The Trippet Ranch pond is, surprisingly, full of water.  The water is full of tadpoles.  There are also mallards and a great egret.  The milkweed in the meadow by the old nature center are just about to bloom.  Also in that meadow are lots of purple clarkia.  Continuing into the chaparral portion there are bush lupine, bush sunflowers, black sage, elderberry, California buckwheat and some lovely mallow along with some really stunning flowering yuccas.  – Dorothy Steinicke.


Saddle Peak

Backbone Trail

           Date: 5/16



        Today’s hike was number nine of the NPS sponsored Backbone Trail hikes in the 2008 – 2009 series. We are hiking west to east, one section of the Backbone Trail each month.

        With hot off-shore winds at the top of the range the cool, fog-shrouded coast below us was tempting.  But our route stayed inland and would reward us with over 65 native species in bloom.  From Saddle Peak to the top of Hondo Canyon offered fabulous vistas and late spring bouquets of some of the hardiest species: golden yarrow, bush monkey flower, sugar bush, California buckwheat, deer weed, morning glory, and caterpillar phacelia.

        Once in the cool shade of Hondo’s north-facing slopes we descended from chamise chaparral through California bay woodlands and finally to sheltering oak riparian.  Along the way we encountered a varied array of species in bloom.  The drier, higher environs of slender tarweed and Turkish rugging segued into chaparral understories with 3 clarkia species still in all their glory.  By the time we reached Old Topanga and its pocket grasslands we had glimpsed golden stars, star lily, wooly blue curls, blue eyed grass, Chinese houses, fuchsia flowering gooseberry, buttercups, wild brodiaea, and much more.

        On the climb from Old Topanga to Trippet Ranch we saw only a few species in flower, but appreciated them all the more due to their scarcity.


Rating: Enjoyable.  – R. Waycott (and others).


Nicholas Flat


           Date: 5/15



        We did a quick hike out to the pond at Nicholas Flat and back to check on the water level and the red-winged blackbirds.  It was a nice cool day but the wildflowers are definitely transitioning out of the grand displays of early spring.  This area has a lot of weeds because the many years of ranching still lay heavily upon the land.  Nevertheless the pond is reliable enough to support true aquatic plants and the song of the blackbirds is worth hearing.  The hike to the pond is short, less than half a mile, but there is a lot of additional hiking to be done if you wish.  There is even a trail that goes all the way down to the coast at Leo Carrillo State Beach. Flowering highlights (few as they were) included golden yarrow, Indian paintbrush, deerweed, caterpillar phacelia, morning glory, Chinese houses, bush monkey flower, purple nightshade, a few crimson pitcher sage, canyon sunflower, California chicory, greenbark ceanothus, sugar bush, purple clarkia, sticky madia, mountain dandelion, black sage, blue-eyed grass, and common verbena.  Rating: Fair.  – ed.


Newton/Zuma Canyons

Backbone trail between Latigo and Kanan

           Date: 5/11



        We started at the Latigo trailhead of the backbone trail and hiked west to the Kanan trailhead and then hiked back. This section of the backbone is pretty short so the whole hike was less than five miles.  Of note is the appearance of several of the late spring/early summer flowers.  This particular section has an unusually high amount of tree cover for the Santa Monica Mountains so it is a nice hike on a hot day.  All told we saw a little less than seventy species in bloom which is pretty good this late in the season, especially for a dry year.  We can expect that number to drop soon as it continues to dry out.  There are already much lower quantities of most flowers in evidence.  Parts of this trail, especially near Latigo, have a disappointing number of invasive weedy species which are beginning to supplant the native wildflowers.  Flowering highlights included dense stands of bush monkey flower, chamise, purple sage, black sage, bird’s beak, California buckwheat, golden yarrow, hillside penstemon, three different sunflowers, several different lupines, a couple of early heart-leaved penstemon, caterpillar phacelia, sugar bush, purple nightshade, popcorn flowers, sticky madia, California chicory, morning glory, quite a few crimson pitcher sage still holding on, California figwort, the native western thistle with its beautiful purple flowers, elderberry, yucca, Catalina mariposa lily, globe gilia, miner’s lettuce, fiesta flower, Chinese houses, blue-eyed grass, mountain dandelion, blue larkspur, sticky cinquefoil, common vervain, elegant clarkia, and Indian paintbrush.  Rating: Good.  – ed.


Circle X Ranch

Mishe Mokwa Trail

             Date: 5/4



        We hiked out to split rock and then up the canyon west to the stream crossing and then turned back.  Things are definitely drying out now.  All told we saw about 70 species in bloom but several were on their way out even as the later spring flowers are beginning to show nicely.  Flowering highlights included blue dicks, black sage, wooly blue curls, golden yarrow, Catalina mariposa lily, spotted, purple, and willow-herb clarkias, California chicory, popcorn flowers, chamise, yellow and bush monkey flowers, turkish rugging, tarweed, dwarf flax, golden stars, purple clarkia, star lily, caterpillar, mountain, and Parry’s phacelias, stick-leaf, chia, collarless California poppy, sugar bush, yucca, both yellow and white pin cushions, miner’s lettuce, purple nightshade, chinese houses, canyon sunflower, sticky cinquefoil, angel’s and globe gilias, red-skinned onion, blue larkspur, stinky gilia, fiesta flower, white thorn white pitcher sage, sticky madia, California blackberry, morning glory, yellow cress, an early bird’s beak, and California buckwheat.  Rating: Good.  – ed.


Upper Solstice Canyon

Backbone Trail

             Date: 5/3



        A two-hour round-trip hike netted over 60 species in bloom along the

Backbone Trail through Upper Solstice Canyon -- including Caterpillar

Phacelia, Golden Yarrow, Black Sage, Woolly Blue Curls, Bush

Monkeyflower, Slender Sunflower, California Chicory, Rush Rose, Catalina

Mariposa Lily, Mouse-eared Chickweed, Red-skinned Onion, the native

California Mustard, Fiesta Flower, Globe Gilia, Silver Puffs, Sticky

Cinquefoil, Skullcap, and two kinds of Vetch (American Vetch and

possibly Slim Vetch).

        On the drive up to Castro Crest  the hills along Corral Canyon Rd.,

burned in the most recent Malibu fire, were covered with Morning Glories

plus an occasional Large-flowered Phacelia.   – Jay Sullivan.


Castro Crest

Backbone Trail west of the  Corral Canyon trailhead

             Date: 5/1



        This nice section of the Backbone Trail passes through several different ecosystems and thus affords a diverse array of plant species.  There is quite a bit of shade along some sections but others are very exposed and dry so be sure to bring your hat and sun block. I descended from the Corral Canyon trailhead and passed through the area that burned recently.  Most of the flowers there are you typical fire-followers but many have already passed their prime.  I moved down to the lowers section that parallels the creek and was pleased to see some persistent pools of water in the creek bed.  I had made the trip down to the creek to find a particular flower that I wanted to photograph and add to our flower gallery.  However, the hike was so inviting I spent much of the day down there even after I found my goal.  In all I saw about eighty species in bloom – not bad at all for this time of year.  However, I expect that number to drop fast in the near future – many were clearly finishing up their blooming season.  Flowering highlights include morning glory (they are robust fire-followers), both bush and yellow monkey flowers, California chicory, whispering bells, a couple of different evening primroses, blue dicks, purple nightshade, greenbark ceanothus, chamise, golden yarrow, slender sunflower, wooly blue curls, turkish rugging, star lily, caterpillar phacelia, several different popcorn flowers, several different lupines, red-skinned onion, silver puffs, miner’s lettuce, skullcap, angel’s gilia, globe gilia, fiesta flower, milk maids, sticky cinquefoil, winter cress, western pearlwort, woodland star, Jonny jump-up, blackberry, collarless California poppy, mountain dandelion, blue-eyed grass, Chinese houses, American vetch, scarlet bugler, and fuchsia-flowered gooseberry.  Rating: Good.  – ed.



Contact Information:


Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area


401 West Hillcrest Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360




If you would like to contribute to the wildflower report:




or phone Tony at 310-457-6408